Nova's muted, somewhat bleak novel, set in a Vermont mill town, hints at disaster from its first pages. The product of a catastrophic childhood, Frank Kohler is a loner who "knew he was running out of time." The reader knows it, too, and can feel Frank moving toward some unknown, perhaps lethal cataclysm. Likable state cop Russell Boyd spends most nights on traffic duty, which he rather enjoys, and has a promising new girlfriend in Zofia. Nova (Wetware , etc.) alternates between these two men as Frank, in a misguided search for love, gets a Russian mail-order bride, Katryna, and Russell lives "the malice and danger of his hour-to-hour" job. The two men cross paths briefly several times, ricocheting off one another before their final confrontation. The reader, lulled by the soporific grace of Nova's prose, watches transfixed as his four players travel inexorably down the paths to their awaiting fates. Nova again demonstrates his control of character, sense of place and ability to create grim worlds that readers might be reluctant to experience at first, but then find hard to resist. Agent, Peter Matson . (July)
Forecast: Nova is one of those novelists who deserve greater readership, but whose subject matter and tone can chase away readers who look to fiction for fun rather than existential edification. Fans of Pete Dexter, Richard Price and William Kennedy are likely cus tomers, though.
Release date: 07/01/2004