Fourth Estate £8.99 (442pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Little Bird Of Heaven, By Joyce Carol Oates
Sometimes referred to as the "Dark Lady of American Letters" Joyce Carol Oates is both admired for her prolific output and criticised for an overly prurient fascination with violence.
In her 57th novel, she returns to Sparta, a fictional town in upstate New York that has appeared in previous novels.
When Zoe Kruller, a bluegrass singer, is found strangled in her bed, both her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her married lover, Eddy Diehl, are named as prime suspects.
Eddy's daughter, Krista, and Delray's son, Aaron, both try to prove their own father innocent.
The novel starts out talking the language of police procedural but soon bloats into something more amorphous.
It's a bleak insight into what happens when children are forced to rub up against adult sexuality.
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