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A Brilliant Death

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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  143 reviews
A 2017 EDGAR® AWARD FINALIST!

Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953. Or, did she? While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found.
 
Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared. After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’
...more
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Seventh Street Books
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Christine Zibas
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
This is the story of two friends in the small town of Brilliant, Ohio. The narrator (Mitch) is from a typical Midwestern family, and the other is the son of an abusive father (Travis). As the boys move from childhood to adolescence, Travis begins to search for clues about his mother. His father, a long-haul trucker, refuses to talk about her, and rumors around town suggest that Amanda died as a young woman in a boating accident on the Ohio River.

Local gossip has it that Amanda and her lover -- a
...more
Sharon Huether
I won this book through Goodreads first reads. A coming of age story. Two teenage boys, teamed together to solve a mystery and find the truth. What they found out they had to leave it alone. Truth is what they held on to.
The story was very well written. It was definitely a page turner.
Lelia Taylor
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: full-reviews
There is so much good to be discovered in this novel that I hardly know where to begin. I'm kind of compelled to say that A Brilliant Death is, well, close to brilliant, never mind the fact that Brilliant is the name of the town in which the story takes place.

Friendships between boys are not featured anywhere nearly as frequently as those between girls. That's no doubt at least partly because there's so much drama in girl friendships while the guys just sort of seem to hang together without a lo
...more
Gloria Feit
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the publisher: Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953. Or, did she? While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found. Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared. After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’ father scoured the house of all evidence that Amanda Baron had ever lived, and her name was never to be uttered around him. Now in high ...more
Wanda
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, mystery, reviewed
I'm not usually a fan of male bonding/coming of age stories but I picked this up anyway because it was set in Brilliant, Ohio, near my hometown around the time I grew up. I wasn't expecting anything more than a trip down memory lane following teenaged Mitchell as he helped his high school bud Travis unravel the story behind his mom's apparent drowning. Well, I got that plus much, much more - I don't want to risk a spoiler but WOW! what a surprise there at the end. And I just loved the play on wo ...more
Rose
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the author's book, "The Essay," so looked forward to reading this one. I found it to be a quite enjoyable read, although perhaps not quite as well-written as "The Essay," and would recommend it to someone looking for a novel that reads easily and doesn't need to be "literary."

Mr. Yocum's two main characters are teenaged boys growing up in the 1960s in Brilliant, Ohio, which just happens to be the author's home town. Brilliant is a small burg on the bank of the Ohio River, close t
...more
Grace P.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like books with an Appalachian setting. Nice boys coming of age story with a mystery. I didn't see the end coming. I enjoyed it.
Col
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, y
Synopsis/blurb….

Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953. Or, did she? While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found.

Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared. After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’s father scoured the house of all evidence that Amanda Baron had ever lived, and her name was never to be uttered around him. Now in high scho
...more
Susan
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During their high school years, two teenage boys try to uncover the truth about the death of one boy's mother when he was an infant.

Obstacles include the cruelty of the motherless boy's father, the lack of technology to aid in this search set in the late 1960s and early 70s, and the reluctance of adults to reveal information about the woman.

The mystery also serves as a coming-of-age story, and a male bonding tale. The plot and well-developed characters would appeal to both teen and adult readers
...more
Andy Weston
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a clever and thoroughly enjoyable novel set in smalltown Ohio in the 1950s.

To me it qualifies as great American fiction, and more than once I found myself comparing Yocum's coming of age tale to John Irving (specifically Owen Meaney) and Robert McGammon (Boy's Life).

Sport figures prominently as Mitch supports his best friend Travis in looking for clues as the death of his mother. There is the supposed innocence of stereotypical adolescent suburban life interrupted as the boys team up a
...more
T.R. Horne
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robin Yocum is an exceptional writer with a keen eye for building relationships and scenery that transports you to small town Ohio. In A Brilliant Death, you meet Mitchell Malone, the stories narrator, who is recounting his childhood and his special bond forged over the Summer of 1953 with his bestfriend, Travis Baron. Travis is an unfortunate teen. He has lost his mother to a river accident shortly after his birth. His father doesn't really care to raise him unless he's beating or intimidating ...more
Katie
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up A Brilliant Death after meeting Mr. Yocum at the 2016 Books By the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio. As I moved around to different tables, I was drawn to his and enjoyed conversation about his writing and his novels. I'm so glad I chose A Brilliant Death, and remained engaged throughout the story.

Each time I thought I understood the depth of this novel, it became more complex and interesting. The character development, particularly of the two young friends, was excellent, especially for a
...more
John Yingling
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by Robin Yocum that I have read, and I am looking forward to reading more of his work. A Brilliant Death is outstanding in several ways: for the storyline, the dialogue, the character development, and especially for the setting. I am familiar with that part of Ohio, having driven through Steubenville, Mingo Junction, and Brilliant, where the story is set. The area is so well described that it brings back all the memories I have of going through there over the years. The my ...more
Seema Rao
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TLDR: a man relates the events leading up to his best friends drowning and death.

Good:
Wonderful writing
Great characters
Well-described settings
Surprising plot twists
Thoughtful and original

Bad:
Nothing

An exceptional novel filled with suspense and meaning. I picked this bc it was about #ohio, but I think anyone would love it. Highly recommend to the #literarymystery readers. #mystery #fiction #whodunit
Alijayne
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was AMAZING! I don't usually enjoy books with a male protagonist, but this was "brilliant." An absolute mystery that felt like realistic fiction. I couldn't stop reading.
Candace
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book started off slow but ended up really grabbing my attention. I always love a good murder story.
Kate
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
A very entertaining story about a friendship of two young boys growing up in a small town in the Ohio Valley in the 60s. Mitchell Malone is the narrator who comes from a loving family and his best friend Tavis Baron whose Mother drowned in the Ohio River when he was a few weeks old and was raised from the age of nine by a father who is hated and feared by nearly everyone in town and basically has ignored and neglected his son.
In High School Travis gets this idea in his head that he wants to find
...more
Erica
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Another fantastic book by Robin Yocum! I keep thinking the next one can't be better or as good as the last but every book he writes is equally excellent. He is definitely one of my favorite authors. This particular book about two youths trying to uncover the mystery of a 15 year old murder touches on a host of issues and will make you feel a range of emotions. Perfect fiction read!
David Putnam
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
liked it okay. I finished it which says something for now days. I've become very picky. Loved the character development
Lisa D - Sassy Cat Chat
Robin Yocum brings us a murder mystery set in small town Ohio in her latest, A Brilliant Death. Beautifully detailed prose and lifelike characters make this novel shine.
Our narrator, Mitch Malone takes us back to his childhood in 1950’s Brilliant, Ohio. Mitch’s friend, Travis Baron, wants to find out what really happened to his mother who disappeared under questionable circumstances. The boys set out to solve the local mystery of what really happened to Travis’s mother, Amanda Baron. Was Amanda
...more
Patty
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What it's all about...

Travis has no memories of his mother. She was in a boating accident with her "boyfriend" and their bodies were never found. Travis has a horrible father. His father cared more about his car than his son. Travis was always kind of dirty and hungry and alone...as he grew up. If he bothered his father for any reason...his father would verbally and physically abuse him. He was told his grandparents were dead...he literally raised himself. He wants to find out what really happen
...more
Renny Barcelos
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
I'm sorry to say this novel did not work for me. I can see it becoming quite popular and many people loving it, though; it's a cozy mystery in a small town surrounded by the usual bad guys trying to intimidate people not to spread their secrets. The coming of age part was endearing and the friendship between the boys was very well written, but the mystery plot, in my opinion, was not. There were too many things that didn't add up and I wasn't convinced. Besides, I couldn't really see how the pla ...more
Jeff
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book, it was, BRILLIANT ! This book totally held my interest . It was one of those books where I scheduled my other activities around reading this novel. The authors writing style is wonderful, he made me feel that I was right there. I don't read too many crime novels , as I find a lot of them to have implausible plot twists, not so with this book. The events described in this story could have happened, nothing unbelievable.

I give this book my highest recommendation!!
Laura
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Robin Yocum gives us a great coming-of-age tale.

Travis Baron and Mitch Malone are best friends from the (real town!) of Brilliant, Ohio. Travis has a hard life as the only son of a notoriously evil man. Mitch leads a stable life in a loving family. By the time they are seniors in high school, Travis wants to know more about his mother who drowned 15 years before - but her body was never found. Once the boys get started, they find out more than they bargained for and danger is closing
...more
Megan M
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but the dialogue is painful. Why does a teenage boy talk like a 60-year-old man?
Lori
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was touched by the deep friendship btwn these teens, and their patience and determination. Style reminded me of Tana French but with a little less edge
Gail Nelson
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick, easy enjoyable read.
Dail Sams
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The biggest mystery in town history is the drowning death of Amanda Baron, Travis Baron's mother. Amanda died when Travis was just 5 months old, and rumor had it that his despicable old man might have murdered her. That was never proven. Travis was basically left to raise himself, and he and Mitch Malone became best friends because Travis was always welcome in the Malone home. Big Frank Baron certainly didn't care where his son was most of the time. When the boys hit high school, Travis began to ...more
Heather O'Neill
It is the 70s and Travis and his friend Mitch are trying to solve the mysterious death of Travis' mom Amanda. In the 50s Amanda was seen jumping from a boat before a barge crashed into it. They were never able to find her body. Travis always had questions about his mom's suspicious death and decides to look into it with the help of his friend Mitch (the story is told from Mitch's POV).

I only thought the book was ok (I know that Goodreads lists that as a 2 star, but I think it deserved one more s
...more
Renee (itsbooktalk.com)
You can check out my full review on www.itsbooktalk.com

The novel begins in 1971 with a Brilliant, Ohio newspaper article announcing the presumed death of recent high school graduate Travis Baron who's body had yet to be found after his car plunged off a cliff into the Ohio River following a high speed chase with police. Travis's best friend, Mitch Malone, narrates the story beginning with Travis's funeral but then quickly takes us back in time to the 1960s when their friendship began. Life for b
...more
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Robin Yocum is the author of the award-winning, critically acclaimed novel, Favorite Sons (June 2012, Arcade Publishing). Favorite Sons was named the 2011 USA Book News Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense, and is a Choose to Read Ohio selection for 2013-14. His latest novel, The Essay, was released in October 2012 by Arcade. He also is the author of Dead Before Deadline, a compilation of stories ...more
“In my dating career, I had found that mothers seemed to like me; fathers did not. Period. So I tended to avoid contact with the dads. I assumed that this wasn't personal. Rather, it was simply the fact that I was a hormone-laden, male teenager with a fully functional penis, who happened to be in the presence of their daughters.” 1 likes
“I was not the equal of my cousins in athletic ability or good looks, but I'd like to think God evened the score by granting me a modicum of common sense, which sometimes seems to be sadly missing in most descendants of Walter Kaminski, who have shown a tendency to live for the moment and think with their peckers.” 1 likes
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