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Boy in the Water Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 15, 1999
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The Amazon Book Review
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Although not as complex or as haunting as his 1997 novel Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns has produced a first-rate psychological thriller with Boy in the Water.
Bishop's Hill Academy in rural New Hampshire is a school in crisis. Once a highly regarded preparatory school for the rich and elite, it is now a dumping ground for troubled teens. The teachers are unqualified, unenthusiastic, and spend more time hitting the students than educating them. A new headmaster, Jim Hawthorne, enters the chaotic scene, but is immediately outcast from the tight-knit faculty. Hawthorne is obsessed with the idea of turning the school around--and we soon find out why. His family died in a fire purportedly set by a disturbed teenager back in San Diego. Mentally and physically scarred, Hawthorne sees Bishop's Hill as an opportunity to get back to "physical reality," and save some adolescent psyches. But it is his own mental state that is soon put to the test as he becomes the nucleus of a hate campaign and is forced to relive the terrible memories of the fire.
It seems that everyone in the school has a secret to hide--from the cook Frank LeBrun who enjoys placing sharp tacks in his recipes to Chip Campbell, a history teacher who has taken one too many liberties with the school's funds.
Dobyns paints a foreboding landscape of dilapidated buildings and neglected children--a place where a 15-year-old girl plots to kill her father, a place where teachers abuse students, a place where a young boy is found dead in a swimming pool. As a snowstorm cuts off the isolated community, the exiled headmaster is forced into a final showdown with the school's omnipotent evil.
Boy in the Water is an entertaining but ultimately disturbing read. --Naomi Gesinger --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
From Library Journal
Set in the New Hampshire mountains at remote Bishop's Hill Academy, Dobyns's new novel succeeds, though it still does not top The Church of Dead Girls (LJ 5/1/97). As usual, Dobyns fleshes out mundane, real-world characters. Bishop's Hill is a financially shaky institution known as a dumping ground for troubled teenagers. New headmaster Jim Hawthorne carries a motherlode of guilt and conflict from the past: detained by a tryst at his previous prestigious post, he failed to save his wife and daughter from a fire set by a student jealous for his attention. Friend Kevin Kreuger tries to convince Hawthorne that he is punishing himself by taking the job, but Hawthorne perseveres. Deliberate attempts to undermine Hawthorne's success at Bishop's Hill, followed by a series of murders, overshadow his improvements to the school. In time, he discovers his enemies and unravels a trail of corruption while doing his utmost to save lost souls like Jessica Weaver, a former stripper at 15. Recommended for all mystery collections.
-AMichelle Foyt, Fairfield P.L., CT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The number of interesting characters, good and bad, was a nice change from some suspense novel that spend their written energy on usually simply the hero or the villain.
It felt nice to settle down with a killer and a New Hampshire snowstorm on a hut, muggy New York day.
Hawthorne takes a job as head of a private school with mostly children who have problems. Hawthorne's wife and daughter died several years previously in a tragic fire - and he is trying to start a new life.
The teachers at the school want things to stay the same - and Hawthorne is making changes...changes they don't like. Anonymous notes against Hawthorne begin appearing in the teachers mailboxes... someone is trying to cause problems for Hawthorne.
Also, one of the students, Jessica, is having problems of her own. She is trying to save herself and her brother from her step-father
I was tempted to skip through to the end and just see what happened rather than continue reading... but I stuck with it. The outcome was okay.
I really liked Church of Dead Girls, and Burn Palace - this one was just okay
This book is so good I bought it on hardcover at full price to read later. The character development is fabulous. You felt like they are real people and that you could run into Mr. Hawthorne, the new headmaster of a sinking school on the bridge of closing. Its one of those books that keeps you hanging and wanting more. I suggest anyone who likes good murder thrillers to get this book immediately.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't want this book to end. The suspense grips you and doesn't let go! There are bad people and then there are evil people. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
Mr. Dobyns may wobble at bit, but he doesn’t fall.
Ironic detachment and suspense go together about as well as comedy and horror. Read more
Disappointingly predictable and derivative. I expected better from the author of Church of Dead Girls.Published on September 18, 2014 by Snow Lover
If this were a just world, Stephen Dobyns' "The Church of Dead Girls" would enjoy the critical and popular acclaim accorded to "The Silence of the Lambs," while "Lambs" would be a... Read morePublished on May 2, 2012 by jonathan briggs
i like the ending and the characters. i wont say much to kill the suspense. it is a good book. i recommend itPublished on June 6, 2009 by I. Wong
Set in rural New Hampshire, Boy In The Water centers around Jim Hawthorne, a respected psychologist with a tragic past, and his attempt to save Bishop's Hill, a rundown private... Read morePublished on March 19, 2007 by acwrite
Dobyns manages to write a thriller that engages the reader in ways that put most thrillers to shame. Read morePublished on June 5, 2006 by Tim Lieder
It doesn't quite come up to "The Church of Dead Girls," but Stephen Dobyns has a knack for giving us characterization, description and plot. Read morePublished on July 17, 2005 by John R. Lindermuth
I wonder why people who really want to write screenplays try to disguise them as novels. "Boy in the Water" is a "novel" to be read by airplane passengers who have already seen... Read morePublished on November 16, 2004 by Dwight E. Weber