cover image Serena

Serena

Ron Rash, Author . Ecco $24.95 (371p) ISBN 978-0-06-147085-1

Depression-era lumber baron George Pemberton and his callous new wife, Serena, are venality incarnate in Rash's gothic fourth novel (after The World Made Straight ), set, like the other three, in Appalachia. George—who coolly kills the furious father of Rachel Harmon, the teenage girl pregnant with George's bastard son—is an imperious entrepreneur laying waste to North Carolina timberland without regard for the well-being of his workers. His evil pales beside that of Serena, however. Rash's depictions of lumber camp camaraderie (despite deadly working conditions) are a welcome respite from Serena's unrelenting thirst for blood and wealth; a subplot about government efforts to buy back swaths of privately owned land to establish national parks injects real history into this implacably grim tale of greed and corruption gone wild—and of eventual, well-deserved revenge. (Oct.)