LOST NATION

Jeffrey Lent, Author . Grove/Atlantic $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-87113-843-9

While the classic western naturally concentrates on the West, there were pockets in the East that were as wild as Dodge City, and Lent has found one in his second novel. Northern New Hampshire in 1838 was a long way from Nathaniel Hawthorne's civilized Boston. The ominously self-named Mr. Blood trails a mysterious past into the area, bringing "twin hogsheads of black Barbados rum," some casks of gunpowder and a 16-year-old whore named Sally whom he purchased in Portland, Maine. When Blood opens his tavern, he warns Sally to be wary of the clientele, which is good advice. Trappers, outlaws and Indians wreak havoc on each other in the cold wilderness. When the high sheriff of Coos County decides to bring a little law and order to the region, he and his men are ambushed. While Blood tries to mediate a truce, his past catches up with him in the person of two boys who have come from down south, Fletcher and Cooper. Unbeknownst to Blood, these are his sons. Fletcher falls for Sally, and when Blood is arrested by a Canadian force for complicity in the murder of a French-Canadian trader, Sally goes to Fletcher for help. Lent's novel strains under the stylistic influence of Cormac McCarthy, making its way in long sentences with a paucity of commas and a surfeit of gore: "Crane had been bound hand and foot, his arms tight to his sides, and buried up to his neck in a small beaver bog that was boiling with mosquitoes and deerflies. Very precisely his eyelids had been cut away." However, it tells a rousing tale that will surely please the readers of his first, bestselling novel, In the Fall. Agent, Kim Witherspoon, Witherspoon Associates. (May)

Forecast:The success of In the Fall—which has sold over 150,000 copies to date—proved that readers had not yet tired of Cold Mountain–style historical fiction. Lost Nation will be yet another test of the grueling subgenre, which has found a skilled practitioner in Lent.

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 720 pages - 978-0-7862-4981-7
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-330-49380-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-8021-3985-6
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-55584-677-0
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