Summary and book reviews of Grist Mill Road by Christopher Yates

Grist Mill Road

by Christopher J. Yates

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates X
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2018, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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About this Book

Book Summary

The highly anticipated new novel from the author whose debut was called "The smart summer thriller you've been waiting for...The novel you should be reading tonight" (NPR's All Things Considered) and was named a Book of the Year by NPR and an Entertainment Weekly Must-List Pick.

Christopher J. Yates's cult hit Black Chalk introduced that rare writerly talent: a literary writer who could write a plot with the intricacy of a brilliant mental puzzle, and with characters so absorbing that readers are immediately gripped. Yates's new book does not disappoint.

Grist Mill Road is a dark, twisted, and expertly plotted Rashomon-style tale. The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends - Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah - are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again - with even more devastating results.

PATCH

I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh, and each time he hit her she screamed. Do the math and the whole thing probably went on for as long as ten minutes. I just stood there and watched.

I don't know when I realized I was counting. Eight, nine, ten. For a long time it seemed as if all sensation, everything but my eyesight, had been switched off. But once I realized I was keeping track of the shots—eighteen, nineteen, twenty—it felt like something I could cling to because my sense of balance had been switched off along with everything else. I was standing on the nauseating brink of something I didn't want to fall into, a world beyond comprehension.

Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.

This wasn't real life, this was a show. And this show wasn't for me, I wasn't even allowed to stay up late enough to watch this sort of show. No, none of it made any sense, a silent movie with Russian subtitles.

And yet I watched.

What ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. At the beginning of the novel, Patch poses the following questions: "What does it mean to watch? When a crime takes place in front of you, what is watching? Is it a failure to act or is it simply keeping your eyes open?" How would you answer these questions? In what ways does the conclusion of the novel influence your answers?
  2. The narration of the novel toggles between first person and third person, allowing Hannah, Patch, and Matthew to speak, as well as an omniscient narrator. Why do you think the author may have chosen to alternate vantage points in this way? How does this style of narration affect your interpretation of the novel?
  3. In many ways, the town of Roseborn and its surrounding landscape comes alive as a ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Yates knows how to pack a mean punch and he does so delivering plenty of momentum. Right from those memorable opening lines, you will get swept along so smoothly you’ll barely notice the occasional bump...continued

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(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

Library Journal
This fast-paced, suspenseful journey through the minds of these characters will fascinate Donna Tartt fans and readers who enjoy twisty, intellectual thrillers and unreliable narration.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The reader's sympathies shift as each character brings a different perspective to the events that shaped them. Unexpected twists keep the tension high.

Booklist
Starred Review. The intensity of the storytelling is exhilarating and unsettling.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Mesmerizing and impossible to put down, this novel demands full attention, full empathy, and full responsibility; in return it offers poignant insight into human fragility and resilience.

Author Blurb Tana French, author of the New York Times bestselling In the Woods and The Trespasser
The plot is darkly, intricately layered, full of pitfalls and switchbacks, smart and funny and moving and merciless; the characters are all that and more. This is a powerful exploration of how truth isn't a complete and immutable thing, or a pure force of redemption: it's made up of broken shards that lie buried somewhere in the spaces between people, and when the jagged edges work their way to the surface, they can be devastating.

Author Blurb Krysten Ritter, author of Bonfire
Dark, intense, and disturbing, Christopher Yates' Grist Mill Road begins with a shock and keeps the suspense burning page after page. A thriller with imagination to spare. Highly recommended.

Author Blurb Jason Matthews, author of the bestselling Red Sparrow trilogy
Christopher Yates' Grist Mill Road is a terrific thriller. A horrid childhood crime carried secretly to adulthood, with menace lurking around the corner, and guilt hanging heavy overhead. Alfred Hitchcock would have optioned the plot in the blink of his gimlet eye. A gripping read.

Author Blurb Jung Yun, author of Shelter
An intricately crafted novel about adult lives forever changed by closely held childhood secrets. Grist Mill Road is a compulsive read that will unsettle you from its first page and surprise you until its very last.

Reader Reviews

Bev

Grist Mill Road
1982 "There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends—Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah—are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime." (from book description) 2008 The three meet ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Glaciers and Landscape

Glacial ErraticIn Grist Mill Road, readers are treated to a mini lesson in how glaciers can shape landscape. Chatter marks, cobbles, and glacial erratics are all terms we come across in the story. What are they and how does a glacier alter the landscape over the ages?

When a large and heavy object moves very very slowly it has the potential to greatly impact its surroundings. Glaciers alter the landscape in two fundamental ways: they carve out valleys (think fjords) and transport significant volumes of debris including rocks.

FjordGlaciated valleys are created when glaciers pass through large mountains. If you notice sheer mountain cliffsides with very narrow inlets, those are likely carved by glaciers. Fjords in Norway are trough-shaped with steep ...

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