New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer and one bewitching young woman and the secrets that could destroy their lives.Read more...
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New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer and one bewitching young woman and the secrets that could destroy their lives.
While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only bewitch the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures.
Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.
Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic.
When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation . . . or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?"
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A small town confronts its 1960s secrets
Ah, the ’60s. Girls with flowers in their hair. Quaaludes and Dexedrine. Free love and Jefferson Airplane. And finally, of course, murder. Murder by Charles Manson and his minions, the murder of MLK. Or the murder in Ron Rash’s chilling novel, The Risen. The slippery slope from liberty to catastrophe has seldom been so well depicted.
In North Carolina, adolescent brothers Eugene and Bill come across a mermaid-like young woman swimming. Hailing from Florida, Ligeia wants to introduce them to grooviness. Soon she seduces the virginal Eugene and presses him to raid her grandfather’s pill stash. Then she goes missing. Five decades later, local authorities exhume her and rule her death a homicide.
The novel thus becomes the community’s quest to determine the killer. Eugene by now is an alcoholic and a failure. But older brother Bill remains married and has a medical practice. Rash manipulates the reader’s prejudices about the likely culprit. Is it the hapless wastrel or the pillar of the community, trained to cut throats?
“Four things can destroy the world,” wrote Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian. “Three of them are women, whiskey and money.” The Risen attempts to corroborate this. Ligeia gets Eugene started on alcohol, is careless about sex, and presses him for money. The two boys’ vulnerability to this is plausible. Ligeia is less rounded; she seems a throwaway understudy for Eve.
Yet Rash holds your attention and keeps you guessing. By its end, the novel stands as a parable for the freewheeling ’60s and its backlash. In Ligeia’s murder, we see writ small the murders at Kent State and countless others.
On another level, the novel is a story of how we all lose the dangerous paradise of innocence. It is also a fine portrait of rural North Carolina at a time when it was still remote. Written in simple prose, it is bound to have a wide audience—even among readers for whom the 1960s feel as distant as the Civil War.