Some called it "rich and evocative"; some thought it "odd, dark and often creepy", but all the reviewers seemed to agree that Lori Roy's Bent Road * * ( * * * * ) is an exceptionally well-written debut, and a captivating, and suspenseful tale of a dysfunctional family and community.
Young Arthur Scott fled a small Kansas town, moved to Detroit and raised a family. Unnerved by the 1967 riots, he packs up his family and moves back home where the mysterious death of his older sister Eve still haunts him after 20 years.
While Arthur and the oldest daughter slip easily into rural life, others in the family struggle with loneliness and displacement, especially his only son, Daniel. Then a battered red truck is seen cruising ominously along on Bent Road and a young girl disappears without a trace.
Family secrets, small town dynamics, coerced silence, and ruined lives drive the plot towards its shattering revelation and conclusion, "reminding us that simplicity of landscape does not necessarily mean simplicity of life".
Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she worked for years as a tax accountant before turning her focus to writing. Her work has appeared in the Chattahoochee Review, and she is the recipient of the Ed Hirschberg Award for Excellence in Florida Writing.
A readalike for Nancy Pickard's The Scent of Rain and Lightning; No Mercy by Lori Armstrong; and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.
* * = starred reviews. (Read the NPR review).
* * * * = 4-star review in an upcoming issue of People Magazine.