cover image MIRROR LAKE


Thomas Christopher Greene, . . Simon & Schuster, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4427-5

Greene tells a predictable story of infidelity, love, loss and male bonding in this well-crafted but somewhat stale first novel. Nathan Carter is the 30-something protagonist who finds himself emotionally bereft after the death of his father, so much so that he drives north from Boston to Vermont and ends up starting a new life as a rural mailman. After a weather-related accident on his delivery route, Carter befriends 79-year-old widower Wallace Fiske, who helps Carter sort out his troubled love life while slowly revealing the story of his marriage to a woman named Nora. The farmer describes the pivotal crisis in his marriage, when a farmhand became attracted to his wife, a fierce attachment that led inexorably to violence. Greene is a reasonably engaging storyteller; the relationship between the two men develops in intimate, minimalist scenes that capture the flavor of smalltown life. The female characters aren't as well developed as their male counterparts, however, and on the whole readers may feel that Greene paints his characters in familiar, bland strokes: "We were each running from something. I was running from my father's death and from the shallowness of a life incomplete without shiny, new love. Wallace was running from something far more profound: a past that haunted him, a past he could not escape, and a story he had never told to anyone." Agent, Nicholas Ellison. (Aug.)