A whydunnit that delves deep into the secrets linking the main characters in this macabre vignette … Twisting backward and forward in time, entering the minds of each character in turn, Yates examines both how they reached this point and what happens years later, when the past wreaks havoc with the present … [Grist Mill Road] is more sophisticated, starting from the fully realized stories the characters are awarded in the service of an elegant narrative … Not all of the motivations ring entirely true, and I’m not sure I fully believe the explanation for the central crime. But it doesn’t really matter. You have to work hard to follow the winding road Yates sends us down, and the drive is full of pleasantly unpleasant surprises.
At the beginning of Christopher J. Yates’s fine second novel, Grist Mill Road, Patrick ‘Patch’ McConnell looks back on the summer of 1982 … Yates...tack[s] back and forth in time, and from one narrator to another, with extraordinary skill … He demonstrates impressive knowledge of and affection for his adopted country while telling an even more compelling tale. Not least among his new book’s strengths is the light it sheds on the phenomenon of an otherwise law-abiding male giving in to volcanic rage.
Our first image of it all — the day, the crime, the aftermath — comes from Patrick. It is his eyes we see through, his thoughts we hear, the blossoming of his self-loathing to which we bear uncomfortable witness … The novel bounces back and forth between retellings of the events that led up to the shooting in 1982 by the three primary characters, Patrick, Matthew and Hannah, and the eventual fallout that only comes 26 years later, when all three of them find themselves living in New York, still suffering, each in their own ways, and still connected by that one awful day — by secrets that each of them carry and can not ever tell … His twist...packs a slow-burn punch when all the threads of narrative and back-story start pulling together.