Reunion at Red Paint Bay

Reunion at Red Paint Bay

4.5 4
by George Harrar
     
 

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Red Paint calls itself "the friendliest town in Maine," a place where everyone knows one another and nothing too disturbing ever happens. Native son Simon Howe is a sturdy family man—a good father and husband—and owner-editor of the town's newspaper. Because there's rarely any real news, he runs stories about Virgin Mary sightings, high school reunions,

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Overview

Red Paint calls itself "the friendliest town in Maine," a place where everyone knows one another and nothing too disturbing ever happens. Native son Simon Howe is a sturdy family man—a good father and husband—and owner-editor of the town's newspaper. Because there's rarely any real news, he runs stories about Virgin Mary sightings, high school reunions, and petty criminals.

One day Simon's predictable and peaceful life is disrupted by the arrival of an anonymous postcard, the first in a series of increasingly menacing messages. He tries to ignore them, but the implied danger becomes more real, threatening to engulf his wife and son as well. The Howe family becomes engaged in a full-scale psychological battle with their unidentified stalker—without even knowing it. Secrets from Simon's past are uncovered, escalating toward a tense and unexpected climax.

More than a conventional mystery or thriller, Reunion at Red Paint Bay is an exploration of the consequences of guilt, denial, and moral absolutism. Harrar weaves a dramatic and suspenseful tale sure to spur readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Simon Howe edits the local newspaper in Red Paint, the "Friendliest Town in Maine," a community out of a Norman Rockwell painting where everybody knows everyone and a man losing a toe in an accident at the city landfill is front-page news. The placid surface of Simon's life is ruptured when he begins receiving anonymous postcards from someone who appears to be coming closer and closer to Red Paint. The postcards, we soon learn, are the work of a creepy former local who now calls himself Paul Chambers and believes Simon raped a girl decades ago during a drunken graduation party that Simon only hazily recalls. Harrar, author of novels for adults (The Spinning Man) and young adults (Parents Wanted), does a creditable job of creating an idyllically dull town, but the book is strongest when God-haunted Paul pierces Simon's cocoon of security in a bent quest for revenge, particularly in a chilling chapter when Paul sneaks into Simon's home and watches him sleep. Clumsy plotting mars the conclusion, and Harrar's prose is never any better than serviceable, but those who like their thrillers on the tame side will find a pleasant, if simple, diversion. Agent: Esmond Harmsworth, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“Harrar tacklessome big issues here, notably vengeance, guilt, and absolution, with the underlying question of when sex becomes rape. But messages aside, this is tightly written psychological suspense from the author of The Spinning Man (2003). Harrar is one of those writers on the verge of connecting with a much larger audience; this could be his moment.” —Booklist

“Harrar skillfully echoes Alfred Hitchcock’s theme about how a seemingly innocent man can be sucked into a disturbing vortex of forces that lie just below the surface of ‘normal’ life.” —Kirkus

"More than a conventional mystery or thriller, "Reunion at Red Paint Bay" lays bare the consequences of guilt, denial, and moral absolutism. The novel can be read on several levels, but it devolves into a book tailored to spur readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions." —Huntington News

“George Harrar tells a remarkable story about a newspaperman who struggles to tell the truth, feeling reluctant to bear the consequences, a story of human failure and hard redemption. The writing, razor-sharp and wildly insightful, creates characters who seem to jump off the page—becoming people we know, people we are. Read this book, each page mysterious and compelling, hiding within it the deep core of being human.” —Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon
 
"Harrar's novel...is an intriguing and provocative take on some standard themes of contemporary fiction....Reunion at Red Paint Bay is well written even if it invites controversy and criticism. It is a memorable work that could spur some heated debate." —Metapsychology

"Secrets can haunt us. In George Harrar's novel Reunion At Red Paint Bay, secrets hunt us down for revenge." —Interview Magazine

"This is a gripping thriller, utterly convincing and alarming, as people struggle to justify past deeds, weigh the costs of the truth and decide that maybe a half-lie is just as good." —Bill Bushnell, Morning Sentinel (Waterville, Maine)

"Ironies abound here in this suspenseful study of universal themes of guilt, innocence, punishment, atonement, and absolution as seen through the seemingly simple life of a hitherto respected man in Red Paint Bay." —Seeing the World Through Books

"George Harrar’s incisive look at the soft-focus lens through which we view our respective pasts" —Book Page

"The story resolution is quite wrenching. To say more would be to spoil a good read...It's a great tale of moral consequences, ethical dilemmas, differing perspectives, secrets, guilt and absolution." —Tutu's Two Cents

Kirkus Reviews
A therapist who treats rape victims finds out she's married to a man who might be a rapist. Simon Howe has returned to his hometown of Red Paint, Maine, to edit the local paper, one that is almost routinely devoid of news. At the beginning of the novel, he has hired Dave Rigero, a rapist recently released from prison, as a pressman, much to the disgust of Simon's wife, Amy. Although Simon makes an effort to justify giving Dave a job and thus reintroducing him into society, Amy firmly identifies with the victims in her therapy practice and feels that Simon should make no concessions to heinous offenders. Soon after, Simon begins to receive anonymous postcards, mysterious and mildly threatening, and he tries to think of anyone from his past who could have an animus against him. And then, even more creepiness begins to assert itself into Simon's life, mainly involving his son, Davey, who's spooked by a mysterious person hanging around the house and who has an odd conversation with a stranger at a carnival. It turns out this sinister man is Paul Chambers, a former high school classmate of Simon's whose wife, Jean, had taken her life a few weeks before. Chambers is convinced that Simon is responsible because, 25 years before, he had had sex with Jean on the night of their high school graduation--but was it rape? Chambers shows up for "therapy" at Amy's office, primarily to throw hints to her about Simon's past. Eventually, Simon feels so threatened by Chambers that he shoves him into the bay and believes he's drowned--so now Simon might be responsible not only for Jean's rape and eventual suicide but for her husband's murder as well. Harrar skillfully echoes Alfred Hitchcock's theme about how a seemingly innocent man can be sucked into a disturbing vortex of forces that lie just below the surface of "normal" life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515457
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

  The message on the postcard said: "What good are funerals? They offer no solace. If God had all possibilities in His hands at Creation, was Death really the best He could come up with as The End? Faithfully."        
         The signature was unreadable. The first letter looked like a ragged F or P. The rest of the name ran together, a row of inverted v's, like a child's drawing of waves. Simon turned the card over. Great Salt Lake was scrolled atop a borderless expanse of water. On the side hung a white bag, thumbnail size, marked Genuine GSL Salt. He rolled the bag between his fingers as he walked down the hallway and into the kitchen. Amy was at the breakfast table hammering the keys of her laptop. It was her day to enter session notes.
          He waited for her to look up. "Do we know anyone who died recently in Salt Lake?"
         "I don’t think people drown there. You almost sit on the water."
         "I meant in the city." Simon held the card in front of her eyes.
“It does make you think,” she said.
         "What?"
         "Why God created the kind of death we have out of all the possibilities."
        "Such as?"
        “He could have had everyone die at the same age, or everyone die painlessly, or have the dead reappear as spirits to reassure us they're doing okay on the other side—that one would have been especially nice."
         "Maybe God created all those possibilities in other worlds. We just got the one with frequently painful death and unknown afterlife."
         Amy pointed at the card. “Did you notice? This is addressed to Master Simon Howe."
         He looked again. "I haven't been called Master since my grandmother died and stopped sending me birthday cards."
         Amy reached up and squeezed the bag of salt. "Sending a tourist card from a funeral, that sounds like something one of your cousins would do."
         Simon took the postcard and slid it under the bright yellow fish magnet on the refrigerator, which is where they saved all the odd things they might need later.
 

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"More than a conventional mystery or thriller, "Reunion at Red Paint Bay" lays bare the consequences of guilt, denial, and moral absolutism. The novel can be read on several levels, but it devolves into a book tailored to spur readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions." —Huntington News

“George Harrar tells a remarkable story about a newspaperman who struggles to tell the truth, feeling reluctant to bear the consequences, a story of human failure and hard redemption. The writing, razor-sharp and wildly insightful, creates characters who seem to jump off the page—becoming people we know, people we are. Read this book, each page mysterious and compelling, hiding within it the deep core of being human.” —Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon
 
"Harrar's novel...is an intriguing and provocative take on some standard themes of contemporary fiction....Reunion at Red Paint Bay is well written even if it invites controversy and criticism. It is a memorable work that could spur some heated debate." —Metapsychology

"Secrets can haunt us. In George Harrar's novel Reunion At Red Paint Bay, secrets hunt us down for revenge." —Interview Magazine

"Ironies abound here in this suspenseful study of universal themes of guilt, innocence, punishment, atonement, and absolution as seen through the seemingly simple life of a hitherto respected man in Red Paint Bay." —Seeing the World Through Books

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