cover image The Lola Quartet

The Lola Quartet

Emily St. John Mandel. Unbridled, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60953-079-2

Mandel (The Singer’s Gun) strikes a confident chord in her third novel. Ten years after graduating from a performing arts high school in Florida, the members of the Lola Quartet are far from the futures they imagined during their final jazz concert in school. Gavin, who fled south Florida’s stifling heat for New York, returns after losing his journalism job in disgrace to learn that he may be the father of a 10-year-old girl named Chloe. As he investigates Chloe and her mother’s whereabouts, he attempts to reconnect with his Lola friends, all coping with disillusion: Daniel has divorced twice; Jack and Sasha have succumbed to addiction. Gavin’s sentiment that “real people are so goddamn disappointing” not only explains his penchant for plagiarizing his articles but also applies to the adult lives of Mandel’s characters. The author again melds mystery plotting with literary techniques like shifting points-of-view, resulting in both sophistication and suspense; the mystery doesn’t quite pay off, but Mandel’s novel excels as a character study that considers the slow degradation of hopes, dreams, and expectations of people who are only in their late 20s but already feel ancient. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (May)