cover image On Turpentine Lane

On Turpentine Lane

Elinor Lipman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-544-80824-9

When Faith Frankel moves from Brooklyn back to her hometown of Everton, Mass., she falls in love with a little house on Turpentine Lane. The house, because of rumors about a death that took place there, is well within her salary as a fund-raiser, so despite the asbestos and a failing roof, she decides to buy it. She’s accustomed to challenging projects, starting with Stuart Levine, her longtime boyfriend who has left on a solo hitchhiking expedition with her credit card. No sooner does she move into the house does she learn that the previous owner’s second and third husbands fell down the basement stairs to their deaths. Stuart is unsupportive, so she finally dumps him, encouraged by Nick Franconi, officemate and soon-to-be roommate. Faith and Nick develop a relationship while she tries to solve the mystery of the deaths at Turpentine Lane, her parents’ faltering marriage, and her eligible-bachelor brother’s lack of a significant other. With a witty cast of characters and her usual delightful dialogue and insightful observations of human behavior, Lipman (The Inn at Lake Devine) captures the complications of modern love. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (Feb.)