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Monday, 23 April 2018

‘Grist Mill Road’ by Christopher J. Yates


Published by Picador,
9 January 2018.
ISBN 978-1-2501-5028-8 (HB)

From the publisher:  1982:  In an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City, among craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three teenage friends - - Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah - - are bound together by a terrible crime.  2008:   In New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again - - with even more devastating results.  What really happened in those woods twenty-six years ago?

The answer to that question is not made clear to the reader until very near the end of this novel, in what Patrick calls “the final part of a letter I’ll never send,” followed by the words “August 18, 1982.  The clearing. The truth.”

This is a novel that displays varying emotions, including love, anger, and jealousy, and abusive relationships, in a very affecting manner.    Part I begins from the p.o.v. of Patrick, whose nicknames includes Patch, the name he is most frequently called in these pages.  He is twelve years old as the tale begins, which it does in a forest area, where his friend, Matthew, whose nickname for Patrick is “Tricky,” who on the opening pages is shooting Patrick’s Red Ryder BB gun into a tied-up Hannah, their friend, 49 times, the forty-ninth and final time into and through her eye, leaving her of course blind in that eye but, almost miraculously, alive, her left eye socket looking “like it was housing a dark smashed plum.”  Years later, he thinks back and muses “How did that make me feel, having watched a girl tied to a tree and shot forty-nine times?  Flesh, blood, death.”  Further thinking that “at the time, Matthew just felt like an older brother to me - - even more so than my actual older brother.  I feared him and loved him in equal measure.”

The next chapter takes place in New York, in the year 2008.  Patrick is 38 years old and suddenly jobless.  He is now married to Hannah, who tends to have nightmares from which Patrick calms and soothes her.  They have been married for four years, and Hannah is a crime reporter.  Patrick is a food blogger and a gourmet chef.  The story has twists and turns, with varying chapters told from the p.o.v. of each of our protagonists, whose relationships are complex, to say the least.  This is a tale and characters the reader won’t soon forget, and the novel is recommended.
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Reviewer:  Gloria Feit

Christopher J. Yates was born and raised in Kent and studied law at Oxford University before working as a puzzle editor in London. He now lives in New York City with his wife and dog. Black Chalk was his debut novel.





Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.





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