Somerville,the author of two funny, innovative short story collections and an impressivefirst novel, The Cradle (2009), takes a quantum leap in his torrential secondnovel, which is set in his home state of Wisconsin. Prodigal son and ex-con Bensomehow burned through his million-dollar trust. Dazed and aimless at 32 afterhis release from prison and newly haunted by his philosophical cousin'sinexplicable death along the Bright River some years ago, Ben is now chargedwith putting his recently deceased uncle's house on the market. Lauren has alsoreturned to St. Helens, battered by traumatic events but determined tostart over. They knew each other slightly in high school, when she was intenton getting into medical school, and he was a rich-kid slacker. Somervilleslowly reveals their painful derailments, from Ben's thwarted role indeveloping a famous video game to Lauren's tragic sojourn as an aid doctor in Chad.Somerville has a gift for spurring dialogue, and the meandering narrativetributaries he explores stoke our curiosity and build suspense as he crossesthe wilderness of madness and bloodshed, lies and loyalty, courage and love inthis by turns rolling and raging river of a novel.