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Bent Road

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  3,240 Ratings  ·  571 Reviews
Winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel
"Don't be fooled by the novel's apparent simplicity: What emerges from the surface is a tale of extraordinary emotional power, one of longstanding pain set against the pulsating drumbeat of social change."
-Sarah Weinman,

For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding h
ebook, 368 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Plume Books (first published December 15th 2010)
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Wendy Sumner-Winter
I really wanted to like this. I really did. I seem to always be that person in book club who finds fault with the book. And, this book, as a friend said, did have potential. Some of the writing was good, the story was, eh, kind of interesting.

Others have noticed/noted the abysmal editing job, so I'll just say, um, when your editor may in fact be your mom, you probably need another reader.

The thing that bugged me most about this book (written by a WOMAN) is the lack of agency that any female ch
The story begins with Celia Scott driving through darkness searching for the tail lights of her husband's truck. They are moving back to his rural childhood home on Bent Road, Kansas and he's sped ahead, leaving her without a guide. It's a road that's tricky to navigate even in the day, much less in the dark of night. And this darkness is full of moving, unidentifiable shapes and shadows.

This brooding atmosphere underpins the entire novel. Celia's husband, Arthur, left home over twenty years ag
Toni Lapp
Apr 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S ☔
May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very darkly forbiding book, but kept me interested and reading. Family secrets, assumptions, come back to haunt a family moving back home to Kansas from Detroit. From the very beginning one senses there is going to be something violent happening. Well wriiten first novel
Ruth Turner

This book was easy to read, and although some reviewers noted that it needed a good editor, that didn't bother me too much.

What did bother me was the fact that none of the characters were likable, not even young Evie, and especially not Daniel. None of them!

Another problem I had was trying to figure out how old Daniel and Evie were. The mention of Daniel not being a man yet...repeated over and over and over...added to my confusion about his age, because at times he seemed older. A reference was
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Dear Lori Roy's Editor (who, I noticed, has the same last name as Lori Roy),

This book had potential, I'll give it that, but what it did not have was attention to detail. Some words and phrases were repeated so often it was completely distracting. Go on, open up your electronic copy of the manuscript and do a "Find" on the following:

- frown
- sidestep
- hand on the back of the seat
- cleared his throat like a closing fist (you can really only use this clunky metaphor once, not twice within five page
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the last month I have picked up 3 books by first time authors, and this is by far the best of the three (I couldn’t even finish The Borrower by Rebecca Makki.). Lori Roy does an outstanding job of bringing American Gothic to life in this novel of secrets, lies and despair in the Heartland of America. Roy does a wonderful job of creating tension and dread throughout the novel. The landscape is desolate with tumbleweeds blowing up against fences making them look like monsters; the characters wa ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Aunt Eve is dead. But she seems to appear again in the form of Little Evie Scott, her niece and a dead ringer for Eve.

Racial prejudice brings the Scott family back from Detroit to home, a small Kansas farm. They want to be where white people predominate. But Little Evie soon becomes overwhelmed and haunted by the secrets of the adults in her family and in the small town near Bent Road by her resemblance to her dead aunt. Old hurts begin to ferment and boil.

Uncle Ray was always the prime suspec
May 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I was looking forward to reading this due to all the positive reviews, but I just did not like this book much. I didn't like the writer's style, and I thought the storyline was pretty predictable and at some times downright unpleasant. This is a mystery written for adult audiences, and I guess it can be classified as slightly historical as well since it's set in the 1960s. The story revolves around a family that has moved to a small KS town from Detroit. The family's father, Arth ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bent Road's setting, Kansas, evokes lonliness and isolation. Celia, Arthur,and three children
drive to Arthur's home in Kansas to escape threats in 1967 riots from racially divided Detroit. They move into a house near his mother and start a new life. Celia and Evie, the youngest, have difficulty accepting the very different lifestyle where the local Catholic church is the only social contact. Reesa, the mother-in-law, is dominating and belittling to Celia. In a memorable scene, Reesa is frying ch
May 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. I tried really hard to like this book, but it just never really grabbed me. I think it was supposed to be suspenseful, but the way it was written didn't really build suspense for me at all. Part of the problem was the spelling & grammar errors that snuck in. Some of them were so glaring and obvious that I got really distracted at points. Another part of the problem was the author's repetition of certain phrases - it felt like she was beating you to death with them. For example, talking ...more
Robert Intriago
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2011
A well written book that keeps you interested throughout. I liked the writing style in which the author's use of several narrators allowing each one to tell the story from their point of view. Most of the narrators are women with the exception of Daniel, the young man transitioning from a boy into manhood.

The book centers on the mystery of a family moving back to Kansas from Detroit. They are doing so because of the race riots in Detroit. The story also deals with the horrific damage that secret
JoAnne Pulcino
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Lori Roy
This outstanding debut novel soars with a keen sense of place, crisply descriptive prose and finely etched strong characters and plot.
Set in the mid 60’s on the wide open plains of Kansas, the author depicts a haunting family drama with shades of Midwestern noir. Almost becoming one of the characters is the harshness and isolation of farm life, and the damage of repressed emotions.
Arthur and Celia Scott return to Arthur’s home town after a 20 year absence. He moved away right af
2.5 stars. I've never been to Kansas but I hope it's not as awful as the author makes it sound. Guns and alcohol seemed to be the answer to many problems. My audio book was defective (again) and was jumping around in parts (am I doing something wrong?), or else the middle of the book was just very confusing and repetitive on its own. I didn't let that affect my rating though.
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in less than 3 days. They were not boring, sick-in-bed with-nothing-better-to-do days either. It was that good. It's seems even better to me because BENT ROAD is this author's first novel.

Like this sentence, Lori Roy styles her story in present tense rather than in the usual past tense. Instead of saying "Arthur slammed his fist on the truck again and held up his other hand to Reesa" the author writes, "Arthur slams his fist on the truck again and holds up his other hand to Rees
Dale Harcombe
Three and a half stars. This is another story about secrets and their effects on a family and on a town. Arthur left his home in Kansas with plans never to plans never to return. But events in Detroit frighten him more than the past and so he packs up his family and moves back to Bent Road where he grew up and to the Kansas town where his sister died so many years before.
Arthur and his eldest daughter Elaine adjust to country life but Arthur's wife Celia, and children Daniel and Evie do not find
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's menace threaded all through this story about a family that moves to rural Kansas from Detroit. Kansas itself seems menacing, with dangerous roads and tumbleweed that looks like a monster hanging from the fence. The disappearance of a young girl the week the family moves back makes everything even more creepy and threatening. And then there's the mysterious death of the family's aunt, decades ago, assorted acts of animal cruelty, a battered wife stalked by her husband, a priest who seems ...more
McGuffy Morris
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a gripping debut novel from an author to watch. Lori Roy tells a story in southern-gothic tradition of a family haunted by the past.

To escape the race riots of 1967 Detroit, Arthur Scott returns to Kansas, after fleeing his family homestead there twenty years before.

While his teen daughter settles into a new love and life in Kansas, his adolescent son, and grade school daughter struggle to fit in and belong.

Arthur’s wife must come to terms with being a farm wife, as she struggles with Ar
I won this via a Goodreads giveaway. (Thanks Goodreads and Dutton!) In Bent Road Ms. Roy has written a compelling novel with fully drawn characters. The story is part family saga, part (dual) murder mystery. Despite the mystery, which made me want to read right through to the conclusion, I was equally happy to spend time with the characters, even those were quite unlikable! My major complaint with the novel was that it was very choppy. Some scenes were only a few paragraphs long, and at times th ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Author Lori Roy’s debut novel follows Arthur Scott and his family as they pack up their city life in Detroit, Michigan and move to a small town in Kansas. The book’s description is a bit misleading as it states:

“But when the 1967 riots frighten him even more than the past…”

What actually frightens Arthur, and it’s stated multiple times throughout the novel, is that black men begin calling after his oldest daughter Elaine. Right or wrong, this fact is ultimately what prompts him to uproot his fam
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Elmore Leonard advised writers to leave out the parts readers skip. Oh, how I wish I skipped. Could I be that kind of reader in my next life? The first two-thirds of this book were almost unbearably dull. I forced myself to keep reading. After all, the book won an Edgar. I am not sure why. Perhaps because of the writer's style, which I'll describe as wispy. I didn't like the style, but perhaps the judges deemed the style as literary. I did like the last third of the book, which was suspenseful. ...more
Jane Brant
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another novel with Kansas as its background...oh, so Kansas....remembering Truman Capote, anyone. Nothing is as it seems as Arthur moves his family back to Kansas from Detroit city life to his childhood home. I loved every bit of this book even down to the "feedsack" aprons worn by Grandmother Ressa, domineering matriarch of the family...story is "bent" by life choices of the main characters; you also have the "road" the characters in detail and suspense.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I felt like this book dragged. It had a simple but decent plot, but 100 pages or so could have been cut easily. Characters were not well developed at all.

I was disappointed, especially after reading bookmarks magazine and being told this book is reminiscent of Tana French's work. I love Tana French and this came nowhere near her work.

This was a pretty gripping debut. Not the best I've read, but good. It's 1967 and Andrew takes his family back to Kansas, where he hasn't been for 20 years. Andrew's sister, Eve, died mysteriously 20 years before, and when the family arrives a little girl goes missing. The setting is important here--flat, dry, tumbleweeds and shadows--and Roy creates a forboding atmosphere throughout.
Very atmospheric debut set in Kansas during the sixties. Lots of small town intrigue and interesting characters but I felt overall the book was a bit overwritten and somewhat overwrought. Thought the final portion of the book was very good though so I will probably give this author another try.
3 1/2 Stars. I thought this book was engaging with the character descriptions. It felt as if the emotions of each character were tangible. I wish the descriptions of the midwest were more detailed however. I felt as if this story could have happened anywhere in the US, yet it was supposed to have taken place in Kansas. I read other reviews of this book and do not agree that the animal cruelty scene detailed in the beginning of the book being the most gruesome part of this story. I (pretty much) ...more
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mod-lit
Arthur Scott left rural Kansas for the big city shortly after the death of his sister Eve. Now husband to Celia and father of three, he decides that Detroit holds too many dangers for his children, and moves back to the family farm on Bent Road. It's a huge change for Celia, who must cope with the brutality of life and death on a farm, and the interference of her mother-in-law. Her eldest daughter is happy, having fallen for the young hired hand. But the two younger Scotts have trouble making fr ...more
More literary fiction than mystery, Lori Roy's Bent Road is a fabulous debut novel from an author who has earned her right to be on my permanent radar. I loved most everything about the book, right down to the lovely cover & somewhat double meaning of its title. Besides being a fabulous read, Bent Road had the honor of rescuing me from the tedious read that The Gathering has thus far been. (I'll have to force myself to finish the latter). Back to Bent Road, I was most impressed with the auth ...more
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Arthur Scott left his Kansas home as a young man after the death of his sister Eve, an event about which he never speaks. Driven out by the racial tensions of late 1960s Detroit, the Scotts are returning to the Kansas Arthur escaped. The secret of what really happened to Eve hangs around the family. When a young girl goes missing, the family is thrown into turmoil as memories and suspicions surround them. Celia, Arthur’s wife, has a hard time adjusting to Kansas and a family dynamic she can’t se ...more
Northlake Library
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most ridiculously awful books I've read in a good, long time. I consistently invented reasons to avoid continuing to read it ('I should check my Facebook again -- there might have been a news break.')

Poorly conceptualized plot and underdeveloped writing style. The book as a whole is a vehicle for shock value rather than true emotional depth -- as evidenced by its familiar (not in a good way) characters and predictable plot.

The biggest failing, however, is more overarching. True Amer
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Lori Roy's debut novel, BENT ROAD, was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best debut novel by an American author. BENT ROAD was named a 2011 Notable Crime Book by the New York Times, a 2012 Notable Book by the state of Kansas and nomiated for the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME (Dutton 6/13) has been named a New York Times Editors' Choice.
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