Missy Schwartz
November 01, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Swan

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Frances Mayes
genre
Fiction
We gave it a C

For her first novel, Mayes (Under the Tuscan Sun) drops us off in Swan, Ga., an idyllic hamlet that would be the picture of Southern charm if it weren’t for that blasted suicide of Catherine Mason 19 years ago. When Catherine’s body is inexplicably exhumed, the Masons (a prominent but splintered family) learn that the suicide was actually a murder — how this crucial fact was not discovered before is the book’s biggest mystery — which leads them to explore their own hang-ups in neat, pop-psychology fashion. An unnecessarily crowded cast, along with Mayes’ insistence on capturing the Southerness of it all, traps the book in a stale, Murder, She Wrote Dixieland.

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