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A crime in the neighborhood : a novel
Suzanne Berne
Adult Fiction BERNE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Set in 1972, against the steamy summer of a Washington, D.C., suburb filled with the buzz of locusts and Walter Cronkite's breaking news reports on Watergate, Berne's marvelously controlled first novel explores the effect of a boy's brutal murder on a community and on a 10-year-old girl, a neighbor of the murdered child, whose own world is falling apart. With an elegiac beauty and sadness, the girl, Marsha, looks back from the vantage point of adulthood and tells how the story of the murder became her own story. She brings a keen observance of the events of that summer: of the night her mother smashed every dish on the table after confronting Marsha's father with knowledge of his affair with her favorite sister; of the desolate aftermath of the father's leaving; of the murder, followed by neighborhood night patrols; and of the fearful actions of a community that rallied not around the family of the dead boy but around its own desire for safety. At the climax of the story lies Marsha's role in a murder accusation leveled at an innocent neighbor. The menace and surface beauty of Berne's suburban landscape will remind many of the worlds of John Cheever or Shirley Jackson. Through seamless narrative structure, an extraordinary sense of lightness and suspense and a deeply affecting conclusion, Berne's debut delivers a resonant portrait of a girl's, a community's and a country's loss of innocence. Author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

During the summer of 1973, as the Watergate story breaks, headlines are made in a D.C. suburb when a 12-year-old boy is molested and murdered behind an area strip mall. Not as widely reported is the divorce of ten-year-old Marsha's parents. Narrated by Marsha, this first novel maintains a nicely edgy quality as the family breaks up: Marsha's father moves out, her teenage siblings dabble in smoking and shoplifting, and her mother deals with the stresses of single parenthood in the relatively unliberated Seventies. When the boy's murder remains unsolved, and the neighborhood loses its sense of security and innocence, Marsha copes by keeping a minutely detailed journal whose obsessive details threaten to mire the story. But Berne pull through, managing to hold the reader's interest to the end of this thoughtful first work. Recommended for public libraries.‘Reba Leiding, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. Lib., Troy, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Marsha Eberhardt
Female
Age: 9



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