cover image Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

Howard Owen, . . Permanent, $26 (238pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-128-5

Set in the bleak blue sandhills of North Carolina's "Scots" (read Scotland) County, Owen's atmospheric eighth novel continues the story of Littlejohn McCain's willful prodigal daughter, Georgia, a character from his acclaimed debut, Littlejohn (1992). After the devastating death of her third husband, Georgia McCain, a 51-year-old English professor who teaches in Montclair, N.J., takes sabbatical leave to return to her rural birthplace of East Geddie, N.C. There, 11 years after the death of her father—whose ghost still haunts her—she and her 27-year-old son, Justin (accompanied by his pregnant young girlfriend), hope to sell Littlejohn's house. But Georgia's homecoming is complicated by the drowning of her elderly cousin, Jenny McLaurin. Suspecting foul play, Georgia questions Jenny's dubious property bequest—and provokes the wrath of the redneck whom she is sure stole her cousin's land. Rich in character and place, this murder mystery is also a haunting odyssey toward redemption and repatriation. (July)