cover image The Sky Club

The Sky Club

Terry Roberts. Keylight, $19.99 trade paper (420p) ISBN 978-1-68442-852-6

Roberts (My Mistress’ Eyes Are Raven Black) centers his lackluster latest on a woman whose facility with numbers enables her to make a meaningful career for herself. In 1929, 26-year-old Jo Salter’s mother, Mary, dies from measles. Jo, following her mother’s wishes, leaves their insular community of Big Pine Valley, N.C., for Asheville, where she lands a position as a teller at her uncle’s bank. Salter’s diligence and comfort with math makes her a valued asset, able to easily notice discrepancies in banking records and to reconcile them wherever possible. Those attributes catch the notice of her superiors just as the Wall Street crash of 1929 begins to impact her employer and community. As Salter becomes more confident in her work, she hooks up with a flatly drawn handsome bad boy, Levi Arrowood, owner of a speakeasy. That relationship has its predictable vicissitudes before Roberts concludes with an equally predictable resolution. Meanwhile, the author’s odd choice to present some, but not all, of the dialogue in transcript lends the narrative a choppy feel. Readers are likely to be left wanting. Agent: Margaret Sutherland Brown, Folio Literary. (July)