Carol Goodman, a professor of Creative Writing at SUNY-New Paltz, has a long track record of authoring novels about campuses and towns in upstate New York that harbor dark secrets, some of them downright Gothic. Her latest, River Road – about to be released under Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone imprint – is less about the occult and supernatural and more of a psychological thriller, wherein the terrors derive from the consequences of bad human behavior. Locals will gleefully recognize many of the settings, even if the view across the river from SUNY-Acheron’s Faculty Tower is of the Catskills rather than the Gunks; one can only hope that the SUNY-New Paltz English Department is not such a nest of vipers these days as the fictional one that employs River Road’s protagonist, Nan Lewis.
It’s no accident that the novel’s locale is named for the river that one must cross to enter the Underworld. The book begins with Nan driving home from a faculty Christmas party at which she has just discovered that she has been turned down for tenure. Mildly inebriated and upset, she hits a deer but can’t find its body. The collision happens on the same dangerous curve where Nan’s own young daughter had been killed by a drunken driver six years earlier. The next morning a cop is at her door, informing her that her star writing student has died in a hit-and-run accident and that Nan is the prime suspect. Cue opening of very wriggly can of worms.
Best-known for The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, Goodman will be launching her brand-new novel on home turf. On its official release date, Tuesday, January 19, she will do a 6 p.m. reading/discussion/signing at Oblong Books & Music, located at 6422 Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck. Next Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m., she’ll be appearing at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore, located at 6 Church Street in New Paltz.
Admission to both book launch events is free. For more info, call Inquiring Minds at (845) 255-8300 or Oblong at (845) 876-0500. Visit www.carolgoodman.com for more about the authors and her works.