Grist Mill Road
by Yates, Christopher J.

Years after three friends from an idyllic hamlet ninety miles north of New York City are bound and then separated by a devastating, seemingly senseless crime, the trio revisits their painful pasts in even more traumatizing ways.

CHRISTOPHER J. YATES was born and raised in Kent and studied law at Oxford University before working as a puzzle editor in London. He lives in New York City with his wife and dog. His first book, Black Chalk, was an NPR "Best of the Year" selection.

*Starred Review* An antihero in an Albert Camus novel ignored a dying child's plea for help and spent the rest of his days pounded by guilt. Toward the end, he cried out to the little girl to come back "and give me a chance to save both of us." That's the entire point of this haunting, beautiful, and demanding novel. Patrick, barely into adolescence, stands by while his friend Matthew tortures young Hannah, eventually putting out her eye with BB pellets. Her eye socket, Patrick observes, "looked like it was housing a dark smashed plum." The rest of the novel is about the aftereffects of these grim few pages. Matthew becomes a wealthy investor, and Hannah becomes a newspaper reporter. Patrick, still trying to explain away why he did nothing to help Hannah, lives in a half-world of jobs that don't quite happen. Inevitably, the three reconnect almost three decades later, and the unfinished business has its final-and bloody-working out. And Patrick finally has a chance to save both of them. The intensity of the storytelling is exhilarating and unsettling. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

A defining moment of violence inextricably links the lives of three young adults in Yates' (Black Chalk, 2015) psychological thriller."I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh, and each time he hit her she screamed. Do the math and the whole thing probably went on for as long as 10 minutes. I just stood there and watched." Yates' novel begins with this visceral description that immediately establishes a complex relationship not only between Patrick, the narrator of these lines, and Matthew, his friend and the perpetrator, but also between memory and the truth. The novel cuts between a first-person narrative of Patrick at 12, documenting the events that led up to this shocking BB gun attack, and a third-person narrative of Patrick and his wife, Hannah, in 2008. As newlyweds, they are trying to find their way through the economic collapse and Patrick's loss of his job; Hannah is a reporter interested in writing a true-crime book. She is also the victi m of the earlier crime, and while she knows about Patrick's connection to Matthew, she has no idea that he actually witnessed what happened and failed to stop it. Much of the book explores the ways in which they individually struggle to come to terms with and exorcise guilt before the past can destroy their present and future happiness. If this sounds complicated, it is—humanly complicated and narratively complicated—but successfully and movingly so. Yates manages to take a brutal incident and, by the end, create understanding for all three major characters involved: the victim, the perpetrator, and the witness. By doing so, he drives home the messages that truth is always subjective and that true, compassionate love is always redemptive. It's the compassion part, he argues, at which most of us tend to fail. Mesmerizing and impossible to put down, this novel demands full attention, full empathy, and full responsibility; in return it offers poignant insight into h u man fragility and resilience. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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