cover image Traveler


Ron McLarty, . . Viking, $24.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03474-1

Struggling actor Jono Riley, the narrator of McLarty's second novel (after The Memory of Running ), is getting older—he's been tending bar for nearly 30 years—but his roles aren't getting any better. After he receives a letter from his childhood friend, Cubby, informing him that Cubby's sister, Marie, (the first girl Jono loved) has died, Jono takes temporary leave of the bar where he works and Renée Levesque, his girlfriend and an 18-year veteran of the New York City fire department. He goes home to East Providence, R.I., where he learns the cause of Marie's death: a bullet that was lodged in her shoulder after a freak, unsolved shooting during her childhood "traveled" and pinched an artery. Jono, with the help of retired cop Kenny Snowden, who was a young police officer when Marie was shot and has never forgotten the case, begins looking into the long-ago shooting. Friends and enemies from Jono's childhood still linger around East Providence, and the petty rivalries and deep bonds of the past take on new significance as the investigation grows in scope and points to an unlikely suspect. Frequent flashbacks add color to Jono's adult insecurities, and McLarty's prose remains convincing without crossing into treacly turf. (Jan.)