Picks and Pans Review: Millersburg

updated 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Harry Cauley

It's the summer of 1939, and, while Europe erupts in war, a local drama captivates sleepy Millersburg, N. J.: two weekenders have been murdered. The gruesome crime takes a particular toll on teen Ben Whyte and his kin living on the faltering family estate. Though they farm the land together, Cauley's insular protagonists keep their private lives to themselves. But Cauley delivers a shock to the Whytes, and as their history begins to unravel, Ben discovers what it really means to grow up. Cauley delightfully relays his layered saga in prose as thick and languorous as a New Jersey afternoon in July.

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