Still Waters

Next to her buff, blond boyfriend, Colin, serious, studious Hannah has always felt like the less shiny half of a mismatched couple -- "nerd-queen and boy-god," as she puts it. He is the son of a wealthy, cold couple who drink too much and never talk about the mysterious death of his older brother, Jack, nearly ten years before; she is the daughter of an overworked single mother and often the primary caretaker for her younger brother, David. Yet, after nearly a year of dating, it is Colin who is certain that he loves Hannah. She still can't get past "those three little words."

The weekend before Colin leaves for college at Pratt, Hannah spies a photograph in his attic showing a house by a lake, "one of those big old places with a wraparound porch and a million windows." Despite Colin's insistence that the house, an old vacation home that his family hasn't visited for years, is "ugly and boring," Hannah decides it is the perfect place to plan a secret getaway, where she and Colin can spend their last weekend alone, "almost like they were married."

They arrive, however, at a house that smells of "dead fish," with the air of having been hastily abandoned, twenty-five miles away from a town straight out of Deliverance, surrounded by deep woods that recall The Blair Witch Project (both cinematic references are Hannah's own). And as Colin's behavior becomes dangerously erratic, the story most resembles a summer version of The Shining. Berne shows restraint, allowing a prickly, unspecified creepiness to ramp up slowly, preserving the mystery of the exact nature of Hannah's psychological terror until the very end.

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.