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Posted on

Small Town

Current Status:
In Season
Lawrence Block

We gave it a C+

It was just a matter of time, but couldn’t it have been a little more time? That’s how this New York-based reviewer feels reading two novels that use the World Trade Center tragedy as pivotal plot points. It’s not only awful to relive the nightmare, but it distracts from the fact that these books largely succeed on their own terms. In Joyce Maynard’s The Usual Rules (St. Martin’s, $24.95), 13-year-old Wendy reels in the wake of her mother’s death in the Towers, as she attempts to navigate between her father and stepfather and redefine the meaning of family. The coming-of-age story nails the nature of grief and adolescence and doesn’t dwell on the attacks. The 9/11 plot device in Lawrence Block’s Small Town (Morrow, $24.95) is more off-putting. This could have been a fun airplane read about a serial killer slaughtering his way through New York. But here’s the really chilling part: He’s turned to murdering after losing four family members to 9/11. It feels like a cheap shot to use that event, which ruined so many actual lives, as creepy character motivation in a book meant to be escapist. Rules: B+ Town: C+