MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewEphron’s mystery is surprisingly gentle, considering the potentially disturbing subject matter at its core ... The setting promises some Southern gothic atmosphere — Ephron describes the odor along the Bonsecours River, 'thick with the pungent, slick, gooey pluff mud that was exposed by a receding tide' — but there’s little sense of menace or imminent danger. Fans of zingier thrillers might wish the big moments in this one popped with more drama ... Ephron aims for readers who favor milder entertainment, leaning toward novels in which the writing is straightforward and the plot spools out at measured pace. The appeal here lies in her portraits of the women, who rely on their doggedness and emotional bonds on a mission to restore the family peace.
The Lying GameRuth Ware
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWare sets her psychological puzzle in a crumbling old mill on the Reach, where a marshy river meets the glimmering sea. It’s the home of Kate, who summons her old friends Isa, Thea and Fatima when the discovery of a human bone in the shifting sand threatens to reveal misdeeds from their boarding-school days 17 years earlier ... Ware further complicates the guessing game with the disclosure that the teenagers once played a game of their own invention, awarding points for telling convincing lies to taunt their classmates ... Capable as she is, Ware hasn’t worked out all the kinks of believability ...for the most part, The Lying Game makes good on its premise that tall tales have consequences, especially when they’re exposed to the glare of truth.
A Piece of the WorldChristina Baker Kline
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewMeticulously, Kline documents the sheer physical toil required to survive in a home without electricity or running water, knocking the sheen off the nostalgic myth of an idyllic rural past ... The novel evokes the somber grace of those paintings in language as earnest and straightforward as Wyeth’s brush strokes, laying out a story as uncomplicated as his composition. Both painter and writer have a fine-grained feel for the setting, and both would seem to reject the irony, humor and abstraction of modernity ... Yet in expanding on Christina’s story, Kline defies what some might see as the strength of Wyeth’s work, its undercurrent of mystery ... In contrast, Kline sometimes over-explains, spelling out thoughts and feelings already apparent from the action and dialogue. This approach serves readers who want to fill in the blanks, to experience the daily grind of a way of life that often has been burnished by the passage of time, to honor the rectitude of people who stoically shoulder their burdens and get on with their chores. A Piece of the World is a story for those who want the mysterious made real.