Books: Common Points of Pain

A crime injures victim, survivors and the culprit

Love triangles are a dime a dozen in novels, but hate triangles are altogether rarer. In John Burnham Schwartz's swift, smooth second novel, Reservation Road (Knopf; 292 pages; $24), the three-sided relationship between Ethan Learner, a pacifist English professor; his wife Grace, a trusting garden designer; and Dwight Arno, a temperamental probate lawyer, converges on a common point of pain: the hit-and-run death of 10-year-old Josh Learner, Ethan and Grace's music-prodigy son, at the cold steel hands of Dwight's Ford Taurus. The death is an accident, all blood and vectors, but the dark, emotional dance that follows is shown to be...

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