cover image Invisible


Carla Buckley. Bantam, $15 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-440-24605-3

Buckley’s disappointing sophomore effort (after The Things That Keep Us Here) tracks the repercussions of familial secrets and corporate negligence, and crumbles under the weight of too many plot lines, an unsurprising twist, and underdeveloped characters. After 17 years, prodigal Dana returns to smalltown Black Bear, Minn., in order to attend her sister’s funeral and care for Peyton, Dana’s ostensible niece. Julie succumbed to kidney disease, and Dana harbors suspicions that the chemical plant where Julie worked, and where her widower husband and Peyton continue to work, might be responsible for her death and the rise in kidney-related ailments among the townsfolk. In alternating chapters, Dana investigates the operations of the Gerkey factory, which refuses to reveal the ingredients being used to develop sunscreen for a military contract, while Peyton reflects on her mother’s death. Interwoven throughout are additional narrative threads addressing the dubious parentage of Peyton, the benefits and drawbacks of nanotechnology, corporate environmental responsibility, and Dana’s career in the demolition business. Ultimately, the story is spread far too thin to sustain interest. Agent: Pam Ahearn. (Dec.)