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Busch, Frederick Girls: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780517704554

Girls: A Novel

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9780517704554: Girls: A Novel
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Frederick Busch has built a reputation as a master storyteller, a magician with words, and a writer who deserves to be a household name. In his new novel, Girls, he once again treats readers to the "ice-clear, dagger-sharp" (Seattle Times) writing he's become known for and a story that's deeply affecting, terrifying, and tragic.

Jack is a security officer at an upstate New York college.  When 14-year-old Janice Tanner vanishes from a neighboring town, he reluctantly becomes involved in the search as a favor to a friend of the girl's parents.  A suicidal young woman, a teenage runaway, and two more missing girls make it impossible for Jack to drive resurfacing memories of his own daughter's death from his mind.  In the course of the investigation, as he comes to confront Janice's murderer, Jack comes to realize just how dangerous it is to be a girl: "I wondered if girls had been kidnapped, murdered, preyed upon for years.  Maybe it was the times, and therefore everything human and otherwise from when we began might not be at fault."

Girls is  a novel that is both a thriller and a stylistic wonder, and, like its protagonist, is tender and tough at the same time.

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Review:
Frederick Busch's 18th work of fiction, Girls, is a novel whose roots lie buried in an earlier short story. In "Ralph the Duck," Busch introduced Jack and Franny, a young couple trying to recover from the recent death of their baby daughter. In Girls Busch expands Jack and Franny's lives beyond this single personal tragedy to encompass a greater loss: the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl, daughter of the town minister and his dying wife, from the community.

Propelled by his own loss, Jack, a security guard at a local college, begins investigating the disappearance, and thus Busch's novel becomes a literary detective story. In the course of solving the mystery, Jack must grapple with his attraction to a professor at the college, the disintegration of his marriage, and the impossibility of outrunning the past.

From the Publisher:
"Powerful -- Exhilarating -- Here is a writer of intelligence and tenderness, a rare combination in a cynical, doubting world."
-- Carol Shields, The New York Times Book Review

"Frederick Busch shows us why he ought to be a household name. His is the classic American style, ice-clear, dagger-sharp, with dialogue that slahes back and forth like a razor."
-- Seattle Times

"Frederick Busch is an estimable writer, a novelist likely to be named whenever serious readers of fiction talk about writers whose work is worth knowing."
-- Scott Turow, Washington Post Book World

"His latest novel is a tour-de-force in which the setting, a college in upstate New York in deepest winter, the characters and the situation are blended so seamlessly that the reader becomes a hapless part of its grim world -- In its very different way, this is the finest literary thriller since William Trevor's Felicia's Journey, and shares the same passionate concern with the helplessness of young women when they become prey to predatory men."
-- Publisher's Weekly

"A complex and disturbing vision of the world as a place filled with danger powers this fascinating novel, another blistering drama of family relations from one of our most productive and passionately serious writers ... It all works superbly as a conventional thriller, though the story's most effective as a harrowing expression of the fragility of our defenses against loss and death, and a moving characterization of its memorable protagonist, a decent man who struggles against powerful odds to remain one. An impressive demonstration of Busch's continuing mastery of realistic narrative."
-- Kirkus Reviews

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