A cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon
by J. Robert Lennon
Greywolf Press, May 2017
Agent: Sterling Lord Literistic
“[An] inventive, darkly comic novel…Broken River is a riveting psychological thriller which is as absurd as it is wonderful.” ―The Chicago Review of Books
“Imagine a sentence that has the slow-burn intensity you feel when reading your favorite mystery novels and the nuance and music of your icons of prose style. Now imagine a whole book of them…A perfect union of breezy and deep, Broken River has something for everyone.” ―Indie Next List
“‘All of the stories we tell ourselves are wrong,’ says a character in Lennon’s novel, a family drama and murder mystery whose metafictional flourishes bear out the truth of that observation…a finely tuned tragedy whose well-developed characters are all the more sympathetic for the inexorability of their fates.” ― Publishers Weekly
A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people―a couple and their child―hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.
Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.
Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger.
J. Robert Lennon is the author of two story collections, « Pieces For The Left Hand » and « See You in Paradise », and eight novels, including « Mailman », « Castle », « Familiar », and « Broken River ». He holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Playboy, Granta, The Paris Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, and The London Review of Books, and he lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.