Victoria Brown. Woodchuck, $14.95 paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-9854391-1-8
Prohibition-era Akron, Ohio, with its brutal factory conditions, corrupt wealth, and harsh class relations, offers the backdrop for this novel about immigrants attempting to maintain the bonds of childhood friendship as life pull them apart. Albert “Nickels” Jablonski’s family is thrown into chaos when his father, Albo, is framed for a murder at the country club where he works. Then Kurt Becker—Nickels’s pal who lives with his mother and aunt at the boardinghouse they run—gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Russell Cantrell, the rich businessman for whom Kurt caddies, offers to pay for his college education. Over the years, Kurt and Nickels drift apart. Kurt becomes Cantrell’s protégé, while Nickels—now a reporter—and his policeman friend Charlie O’Brien continue to look for the evidence to clear Albo Jablonski. Although Brown has assembled all the right ingredients for a gritty historical novel, he fails to deliver. The book’s characters are underdeveloped—the villains simplistically evil; the heroes straightforward, hardworking, and virtuous—and the narrative is without enough tension to engage readers.
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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