cover image After the Fall

After the Fall

Judith Kelman / Author Putnam Adult $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-3

Jess and Charles MagillConnecticut residents, Ivy League, professionally secure physicianshave a happy marriage, three healthy kids, satisfying careers and a lovely home. But when their teenaged honor student/athlete son is arrested and accused of brutally assaulting a female classmate, their comfortable lives are plunged into chaos. Kelman, veteran author of 11 novels (including Fly Away Home), provides a smooth and suspenseful contemporary tale of suburban trauma, setting the scene with harmonious, sweetly domestic tableaux that are succeeded by episodes of a family coming apart. Jess is torn by her younger sons temper tantrums, teenaged daughters hostility, her mothers depressed antagonism and the towns vicious gossip about the family; Charlie emotionally withdraws from the escalating tension; and Jesss psychotherapy practice is stressed by a psychotic patient. A nicely integrated subplot centers around the detective in charge of the case, Sergeant Tucci, Charlies former high school classmate. Tuccis stress level is also high, with a belligerent boss, a 17-year-old daughter whos mysteriously ill and a traumatized, dysfunctional partner. Kelman keeps the action moving swiftly, giving equal time to the accusers, the authorities and the Magill family. Auxiliary characters ring consistently true, from the Magills dog (named Prozac) to Jesss frosty father-in-law, and including neighbors, local psychics and corrupt doctors. In stylish, energetic prose, Kelman reveals surprising new twists whenever the narrative reaches a tense plateau. (June)