Book Review by Bud Gundy
Any reunion story is ripe for lots of drama, but in The Reunion, Michael James Grant milks it for all it is worth.
Here’s the basic plot: Stone Grey, a writer living in San Francisco with his brother, returns to his small, coastal Maine town for his 20th high school reunion. While there is the usual complement of jealousies, unresolved conflicts and lust both fulfilled and unrequited, this gathering takes a quick detour to murder and it isn’t long before Stone is neck deep in a mystery that stretches back to his childhood.
Ocean’s Harbor is a quaint spot, but seems filled with the sort of deranged and dangerous people who tend to stand out against such a picturesque backdrop. In the midst of all the joshing and reminiscing, we get flashes of what is to come by what has happened in the past: unsolved murders, mysterious attacks and dark secrets along isolated roads.
Slowly, the story twists along a satisfying path that leads us to the present, where curiosity and questions lead to more murder. Before we know what’s happening, Stone is strapped into a roller coaster of a story that tears along to a violent denouement.
Small town secrets are fine plot devices, and Grant delivers them in abundance. From fumbling high school gropes on the nighttime beach to resentful relatives and corrupt cops, we get an impressive array of turning points that lead the story into interesting places. And while it all felt complete in the end, I didn’t see the answer coming – not an easy feat within the confines of a small town.
Grant is a fine writer with a style that often feels like a splash of water – descriptions and dialogue often strike unexpectedly and can be quite fun, but the sheer number of characters is somewhat overwhelming and now and again the story felt in need of a firmer grip. Even still, I ripped through the book in two readings and enjoyed every moment.