Bent Road Audio CD – Audiobook, 31 Mar 2011
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"Even the simplest scenes crackle with suspense."
"Lori Roy masterfully mixes a noir approach with gothic undertones for an engrossing story about family secrets and tragedies. . . . "Bent Road" is one of the best debuts of 2011."---Oline Cogdill, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"Even the simplest scenes crackle with suspense."---Beth Perry, "People"
"Even the simplest scenes crackle with suspense." Beth Perry, "People"
"Lori Roy masterfully mixes a noir approach with gothic undertones for an engrossing story about family secrets and tragedies. . . . "Bent Road" is one of the best debuts of 2011." Oline Cogdill, McClatchy-Tribune News Service" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Lori Roy was born and raised in the Midwest, where she was a tax accountant before turning her focus to writing. Roy lives with her family in west central Florida. This is her first novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I didn't really know what to expect picking up 'Bent Road' but I certainly didn't think I had found a hidden gem. It is hard to categorise this novel. Throughout I could say it was a family drama. A coming of age tale. A murder mystery. A gothic horror novel. It had the best of all elements and provided a genuinely suspenseful read.
I won't give the plot away as you can readily read and access it here in other reviews. The characters are well developed and deep to the point you feel like you know them, which is rare in my opinion. Things like that are very hit and miss with a book you pick up. There was a point towards the end, at 1.30 in the morning, I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know if the characters were going to come out alright. The environment and sense of place is strong and brilliantly brought to the page giving you a sense of brooding atmosphere, which underpins the entire novel.
I tip my hat to an author who has the ability to move me in some way. Tear, laughter, disgust, horror. If it evokes some emotion then they've succeeded in my opinion. I was genuinely angry, wound up even, at the character of Father Flannery throughout the book, a disgusting man who deserves some old testament style punishment himself.
Lori Roy has a beautiful way with words. The prose isn't flowery or gushing but she seems to hit the spot with every line, reminiscent in my mind of reading Tom Franklin, another wonderful author.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Indeed, it begins with the Scott family --- husband Arthur, wife Celia, daughters Elaine and Evie, and son Daniel --- returning in 1967 to Arthur's home in rural Kansas, the home he fled some 20 years before. The riots in their hometown of Detroit have prompted the move, but the Scotts discover they are trading one set of problems for another.
Little has changed since Arthur left his home on Bent Road following the mysterious and unsolved death of his sister, Eve. Her passing occurred shortly before she was married to Ray, and the locals have cast a suspicious eye on him, even after he married Ruth, Eve and Arthur's sister, in Eve's place. Ray nonetheless has been sinking into an alcoholic moroseness in the intervening period, interrupted only by explosive incidents where his temper has manifested itself with increasingly violent beatings visited upon Ruth. Almost immediately after the Scotts return, however, an incident involving another young girl --- this one gone missing --- awakens the memory of the prior tragedy, and suspicion is cast upon Ray once again. While that is the primary plot that runs through BENT ROAD, there is a great deal of tension percolating under the surfaces of the lives of the family members.
Evie is unable to make friends. Daniel, on the cusp of adulthood, feels himself overshadowed by his father and by Jonathon, Elaine's boyfriend. It is Celia, though, who feels most out of place, who feels a loss of self somewhere between the cosmopolitan setting of Detroit and the uneasy claustrophobia of the country people and their worldview. And, of course, there is her mother-in-law to deal with, who is constantly judging and finding her wanting in the most subtle of ways. Things come to a head when Ray beats Ruth so badly that Arthur intervenes, taking her into the family's home and offering her protection. Arthur's involvement and Ruth's exile is ill-regarded by the townspeople and the local priest, who believe that a woman's place is with her husband even under the worst of circumstances.
Ruth's --- and particularly Arthur's --- defiance brings matters to a head, and more significantly lead to the revelation of secrets that have laid quietly (if not restfully) on the conscience of instigators and victims alike for almost two decades. This uncovering results in a cataclysmic conclusion that demonstrates no one is entirely blameless or guilty for what has occurred in either the past or the present.
Roy travels some of the same terrain that Tana French has explored, but does so from a much different perspective and with her own unique set of characters. The prose reads with the authority of a diary, and one cannot walk away from BENT ROAD without feeling almost certain that the events detailed here occurred somewhere out in the Midwest, at an all-but-invisible crossroads far from the nearest interstate, where people keep to themselves and settle their own problems. Nevertheless, you will want to visit.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
The writing paints a vivid picture. I could see everything happen so clearly, playing like a movie in my head. Stick Kate Winslet in there, and you have an Oscar winner. It's gritty. It's real. Yet despite all the tragedy and heartache, there still lies a real sense of hope in the end. There's just the whisper of a chance that maybe this family will get past this, break the cycle, and make a better life for themselves and their community.
I highly recommend this book. Lori Roy was able to find the beauty in the stark reality of this family. I was left wanting to know more about their future and past. I will definitely look for more from this author.
Copy of this book won in a First Reads contest.
room and playing with with the elder Eve's beautiful dresses, which still hang in her closet. Eve's death, an apparent murder, still haunts the town, and when a young girl disappears, folks believe that the same man who killed Eve has struck again. That man is Ray, Eve's former fiance. Now married to Eve's sister Ruth, "everyone knows" he's guilty, and living under that suspicion has ruined his life, turning him into a drunken wife beater. But now Ruth has her brother Arthur to defend her.
Bent Road is the story of a buried family secret, and the powers of destruction that such secrets hold. From the opening pages, a sense ofgrim foreboding takes hold and never lifts. Life on the farm is ordinary, filled with pies and casseroles, visits from the priest, and snowstorms. But death and violence are major themes, and the feeling that something is not right hangs like a pall; when the truth emerges, the repercussions are enormous, and not just for the Scotts. Atmospheric and haunting, Bent Road is an outstanding first novel, written with skill and subtlety.
The rural scene that the Scott's are suddenly thrust into is dark and foreboding: huge, wind-blown tumbleweeds racing beside a car at night seeming to appear as monsters, blind spots on unpaved roads, wild plants that can poison, chickens having their necks wrung as a matter of course, and snows capable of collapsing a residence. But most dramatic is the disappearance of a young girl, who eerily resembles Evie, which unleashes comparisons with the mysterious death of Arthur's older sister Eve, another Evie lookalike, some twenty-five years prior.
Typical rural claustrophobia is certainly evident: outsiders are resented, secrets don't last long, and unacceptable behaviors, like skipping church services, are sure to be rebuked. In the author's telling, in times of difficulty, even within families, exchanges are fraught with abruptness, misunderstanding, criticism, insensitivity, and can quickly turn violent. Her characters are unwilling or incapable of relieving pressures that have built among them.
Any efforts to resolve the mysteries are waylaid by the overall awkwardness and cluelessness of scenario after scenario. The writing is rather plain, often concerned with the banalities of everyday life: baking strawberry pies or Celia botching another country recipe. The characters are poorly developed: what makes them tick; are they educated; what are they thinking. A few compelling moments involving some of them can only go part way in rescuing this minimally conceived novel. In so far as the novel has legitimacy, it is an especially disheartening few of rural life.
Someone wrote, "The book just wanders around launching into a family drama without mentioning first who is related..." I was going to say, defensively, that when I read the book I knew exactly who was related to whom right off. Admittedly, I had help: it was the word "Mama" on the first page that gave it away for me. I also knew the book didn't wander around launching into anything because that's ontologically impossible, but this engrossing story did wander into these troubled characters' pasts, eerily so, convincingly so. I was going to say that. The same critic said, "The most revolting is a pastor wiping lipstick off a battered and pregnant woman's mouth during a mass," adding that Lori Roy seemed to stereotype Kansas. I was going to agree that that was a revolting scene, and so realistically drawn I felt actual loathing for the pastor. That's good writing, making a reader emote. I was also going to say, defensively, that I found nothing stereotypical about these rural Kansas farmers and churchgoers, but I didn't have to because the editors of the Kansas City Star named BENT ROAD one of their favorite books of the year.
I was going to say all this and more in Lori Roy's defense, but then I learned today that BENT ROAD was named a nominee for a 2012 Edgar Award, Best First Novel by an American writer. Only five first novels were nominated.
How do you defend against that?