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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on November 27, 2001
In just his second novel, Daniel Akst has certainly grasped a level of cynicism that nearly overshadows a brilliant book about the loss of innocence in small-town America.
Akst's The Webster Chronicle captures a town in termoil after an allegation of spanking at a local day care evolves into a national drama with the town's newspaper editor at the center of it all.

Akst weaves the plot and characters so deftly as to marvel at his level of craftsmanship. But in the midst of a thought-provoking tale, he defaces any and all societal institutions, including a tabloid media, religion, government, the justice system and corporate America, which leaves the reader with a sour taste.
With so many integral parts to the puzzle, the message is so muddled and gets lost in a maze that eventually reaches a lousy ending in the final two pages.
While Terry Mathers, Akst's complex and pot-smoking protagonist, eventually reaches an obvious epiphany, the fate Akst's creates for him is so far from what anyone might expect, particulary his final career and relationship destinations. Mathers, like his father and his wife, end the novel with no redeeming qualities.
But that is Akst's ultimate goal and message. In a complex and inter-connected world, nothing and no one are as innocent as they appear.
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