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Gary Kyriazi, author
It's one year later, Father's Day Eve, 1985, and two bodies lie at the bottom of the cliffs of La Sangre, California. What is wrong with that town? A would-be investigative reporter is determined to find out.
In Kyriazi’s tragic if somewhat tangled follow up to the literary morality tale Father’s Day, a small town grapples with dirty secrets and religious zealotry in the 1980s. Sal Satori, a local preacher who fights self-doubt and recurring nightmares, is facing the skeletons of his past while his wife, Connie, is tired of their permanent struggle to grow past Sal’s affair with Jessie Malana–a troubled young woman who suffered a shocking end. At the height of their conflict, a harrowing interaction with an outsider breaks open a string of scandals that rock the foundation of the town.

As they come to terms with their messy pasts, La Sangre’s inhabitants discover unsettling connections that turn relationships inside out and force some residents to redefine who they are. Sal’s stepson, Corey, leans about the truth of his conception and launches into a sex-filled bender as a truck driver instead of sticking to his plans to attend Bible college– and gets caught in the cross hairs of Jessie’s tormented older sister, Maria. Dr. Ralph Owen, Jessie’s one-time psychiatrist, pitches headfirst into danger when he plays detective to unravel her death. Surveying so much violence, abuse, and rage, Father’s Day Part II will appeal to readers comfortable dwelling on the seedy, miserable aspects of small-town scandal, like the temptations of frontage-road adult book stores or truck-stop sex.

Kyriazi attempts to illuminate these lost characters’ motivations by shedding light on their pasts, though awkward dialogue and some implausible actions muddy the plotting and key thematic elements, such as the impact of abusive relationships. For these characters, lust and guilt are twined up, puritanism fighting passion, a thematic tangle that occasionally gets histrionic, as when Doyle, after a tryst, becomes convinced that Satan is personally out to claim him. Still, the unexpected ending will give readers satisfactory closure, and Kyriazi’s fallen souls engage in intriguing discussions of how to make sense of so dark a world.

Takeaway: Seamy secrets, abusive relationships, and death all collide in this small-town tragedy.

Great for fans of: Elizabeth Strout's Anything is Possible, Richard Russo's Empire Falls.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: C