Artfully imagined, intricately detailed, eerily poignant: these are the outstanding features of Carol Goodman's literary thrillers. She is part novelist, part craftsman-and The Drowning Tree is her newest masterpiece.Juno McKay intended to avoid the nearby campus of her alma mater during her fifteenth reunion weekend, but she just can't turn down the chance to see her longtime friend, Christine Webb, speak at the Penrose College library. Though Juno cringes at the inevitable talk of the pregnancy that kept her from graduating, and of her husband, Neil Buchwald, who ended up in a mental hospital only two years after their wedding, Juno endures the gossip for her friend's sake. Christine's lecture sends shockwaves through the rapt crowd when she reveals little-known details about the lives of two sisters, Eugenie and Clare-members of the powerful and influential family whose name the college bears.
Goodman (The Lake of Dead Languages) delivers another captivating literary mystery of secrets old and new. After 15 years, Juno McKay returns to Penrose College, her alma mater, to hear her friend Christine give a lecture on a beautiful stained-glass window designed by the college's founder and featuring, it was assumed, his wife, Eugenie Penrose. But Christine's research has led her to other conclusions, and her lecture raises many carefully groomed eyebrows. Juno wonders if her always controversial friend has gone too far, and later, she's puzzled by Christine's odd questions and behavior, particularly regarding Juno's ex-husband, Neil, confined to a mental institution called Briarwood these last 14 years. Christine departs, leaving many unanswered questions, and days later, Juno discovers her body in the Hudson River near the college. With elegant precision, Goodman envelops readers in Juno's life, as well as in the lives of her daughter, Bea, and Eugenie and her institutionalized, lovelorn sister, Clare. As Juno finds herself plunged into the middle of a murder investigation, she begins to retrace the path of Christine's research, uncovering tangled connections among the prestigious college, the Briarwood mental facility and her own family history. This is an artful thriller, with rich, vivid descriptions of works of art, Hudson River Valley scenery and the knotty inner terrain of its characters' hearts. Agent, Loretta Barrett. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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