Anat Rosenberg
May 09, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Welcome to 1950s Pisgah, Mo., population: lonely and repressed. In The Perfect Man, Murr presents a small-town slice of life featuring a cast of damaged souls yearning to be loved. At the center of it all is Raj, a half Indian, half British lad abandoned by his family and reluctantly taken in by Ruth, a romance-novel author whose journals contain bile-filled entries about her neighbors. Other characters include Lew, who’s persuaded by a shrink to believe he murdered his brother, and Annie, who’s torn between her devotion to Lew and her feelings for Raj. Murr’s loose, stream-of-consciousness style skips (sometimes too much) from one person’s innermost thoughts to another’s, but he clearly grasps the fragile nature of the heart. B

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