Michelle Kung
August 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

After 12-year-old Ruth Kowalsky accidentally drowns in South Carolina’s Tamassee River, she becomes the epicenter of a small-town power struggle in Ron Rash’s captivating second novel Saints At The River. Newspaper photographer Maggie Glenn reluctantly returns to her sleepy hometown to cover the tragedy and finds herself torn between Ruth’s parents, who want to dam the river and salvage their daughter’s body, and her environmentally minded neighbors, who want to protect the sanctity of their land. Though Rash occasionally hypes the tension between Maggie and the townsfolk she left behind (her concluding skirmish with her father is particularly anticlimactic), his clear, concise prose and regional voice add an authentic veneer to this rich tableau of Southern life.

You May Like