Entertainment » Books

Grist Mill Road

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jan 17, 2018
Grist Mill Road

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.

While the two preceding sentences are meant to be funny, there is an element of truth to them, because while friendship can be built on mutual admiration or interests, there's no denying the unbreakable bond formed by shared secrets.

In his captivating debut novel, "Black Chalk," author Christopher J. Yates introduced six college friends engaged in a psychological war of sorts with devastating consequences. His equally compelling follow-up, "Grist Mill Road," follows the lives of three young people scarred by a horrific incident that took place in 1982 when they were teenagers. Despite concerted efforts to bury the past, the wounds are seemingly just as fresh more than a quarter-century later when their paths cross again unexpectedly.

In a wooded town ninety miles north of New York City, thirteen-year-old Patrick, or Patch, and fourteen-year-old Matthew become fast albeit unlikely friends after Matthew rescues Patch from a bully in their class. The studious Patch is the son of a rising political figure, while Matthew's father is a known violent drunk. Differences aside, the two besties spend their free time exploring the surrounding hills, forests, and rock formations.

Enter Hannah, the privileged daughter of a cement magnate, who has a crush on Matthew, yet when we first meet her, she is being pelted by a bb gun with his finger on the trigger while Patch stands idly by. Fast forward twenty-six years, Patch is an unemployed master chef living in New York City, married to Hannah, a crime reporter, and Matthew is nothing more than an unspoken relic of their history, or so they think.

This riveting, intense page-turner flashes back and forth between time periods with differing points of view, painting a vivid picture of their bucolic upbringing and providing an equally colorful description of metropolitan New York. Early on these youngsters are labeled as the victim (Hannah), the villain (Matthew) and hero (Patch), yet it becomes apparent those characterizations aren't necessarily applicable to their adult selves.

While the story has its share of arguably far-fetched coincidences, the author hooks the reader from the first few enticing albeit gruesome sentences and raises questions along the way--like what really transpired in the woods on that fated day--that keep the reader anxiously and continuously intrigued. Each of the three main character's thoughts and actions are ostensibly unpredictable, which makes "Grist Mill Road" one hell of a psychological thriller.

"Grist Mill Road"
By Christopher J. Yates

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.

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