cover image Those Across the River

Those Across the River

Christopher Buehlman. Ace, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-441-02067-6

Buehlman packs suspense and secrets into his debut novel, set in the deceptively quiet fictional town of Whitbrow, Ga., just after the Great Depression. When unemployed soldier Frank Nichols inherits a house from his last living relative, he ignores the disjointed note from his deceased aunt warning him away and moves in along with his girlfriend, Dora. At first, everything is idyllic, but as Frank uncovers strange superstitions concerning the woods across the river%E2%80%94the site of his great-grandfather's plantation%E2%80%94the mysterious inhabitants of those woods are starting to take notice of him. The era is vividly rendered, complete with Jim Crow laws, vigilante justice, and racial tensions. The elegant prose and heavy foreshadowing keep readers on their toes right up until the big reveal, but once the monster is out of the bag, the novel clumsily muscles its way to a formulaic finale. (Sept.)