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Stone's latest novel takes place on the campus of an elite college in Connecticut. The dark-haired girl of the title is Maud Stack-beautiful, talented, and hopelessly in love with her married professor, Steven Brookman, with whom she has been having an affair. His newly pregnant wife and daughter are returning from an extended trip, and Steven is looking to extricate himself from the affair and renew his connection with his family. As their relationship crumbles, Maud begins drinking heavily, makes a scene in the street, and is killed by a hit-and-run driver. The question of whether her death was accidental leads to the police becoming involved, even as Maud's father, Eddie Stack, a retired police officer in New York City, begins an unofficial investigation. The novel builds to a confrontation between the father, in failing health, and the professor, who feels remorse but is prepared to defend himself and his family. -VERDICT Stone (Dog Soldiers; Damascus Gate) is a major literary figure, and this novel is readable, tense, and stimulating. Vivid scenes with razor-sharp dialog are plentiful; a powerful work. [See Prepub Alert, 5/13/13.]-James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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In Stone's latest bulletin from the dark side of the human condition, brilliant college student Maud Stack is having an affair with her English advisor, Steve Brookman, whose wife, Ellie, is expecting their second child. When Steve tries to distance himself from Maud, it leads to tragedy. The book is not so much a whodunit as an expressionistic collage of how others in this New England college town deal with the tragic event. They include college counselor Jo Carr, a former nun in South America who is haunted by clashes between people stuck in a "struggle toward mutual extermination"; Maud's widower father, Eddie, a Queens detective; Lou Salmone, the local cop who has to make sense of the senseless; and Shell Magoffin, Maud's roommate, who is being stalked by her ex. A "thuggish" academic, Steve may not be the most believable character, and Ellie's response to his infidelity might not be the most credible. But Stone (Damascus Gate) imbues his characters with a rare depth that makes each one worthy of his or her own novel. With its atmosphere of dread starting on page one, this story will haunt readers for some time. Agent: Neil Olson, Donadio & Olson. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Set on campus, Stone's novel features Maud, smart, beautiful, and full of passion for her convictions and her married professor. Professor Brookman, in turn, has ill-advisedly returned her affections. Unsure if it's love or obsession, Brookman is already aware that this affair will not end well. Maud, after passing antiabortion demonstrators outside a women's clinic, rashly writes a diatribe against small-mindedness and hypocrisy for the Gazette, unleashing much fury among groups on campus and elsewhere. And when the tragic, sudden, and inevitable death of the black-haired girl does finally strike, it is shocking. Although Stone (Dog Soldiers, 1974; Damascus Gate, 1998) introduces a cast of menacing and motivated characters, he is interested less in whodunit than in questions of fate and of faith. Old stuff comes back, he writes. Poor judgment and reckless acts have consequences, not just for the lovers but also for those in their orbit, among them, Maud's dad, a retired cop dying of emphysema; her roommate, a B-movie actress with a restraining order on her fanatical ex-husband; Brookman's wife and daughter; and Maud's student counselor, an ex-nun and former revolutionary. Stone's world, full of ominous forebodings, is populated by characters familiar to readers of his novels: the disaffected, the politically naive, and the world weary lost souls who have lost their faith and others with false faith. High-Demand Backstory: The publication of any book by Stone is a literary event; this one is no exception.--Segedin, Ben Copyright 2010 Booklist