One Fell Swoop: A Novel in Stories

Virginia Boyd, Author . Thomas Nelson $24.99 (307p) ISBN 978-1-5955-4399-8

In an intriguing debut, Boyd takes on the Herculean task of exploring a murder/suicide from more than 16 points of view and time periods ranging from before the event in 1977 to three decades after. When Regina Clayton shoots her husband, Michael, after discovering his adulterous affair—and then turns the gun on herself—it sets off a chain reaction in the small North Carolina town of Riley, humorously described as “a worn-out 45, just looping around the record player playing the same old scratched-up song too many times to count.” The different points of view include the wife, her murdered husband, another cheating husband who is running scared, various neighbors, the murdered husband's lover, and a young bride who considers the murder/suicide a bad omen for her wedding day. There's also a wonderful reflection from an aging former cheerleader. It's difficult, and perhaps overly ambitious, to get inside the skin of so many characters, and some chapters are more successful than others. Although the book loses steam toward the end, Boyd is especially apt at portraying life's disillusionments. Though it's from a Christian publisher, religion bookstores won't find much spiritual content here; profanity and sexual themes make it likely they'll pass. Still, Boyd's competent writing and unusual format should appeal to general market readers. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-59554-479-7
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