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A Common Loss


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About the Author

Kirsten Tranter grew up in Sydney and lived in New York from 1998 to 2006, where she completed a PhD on English Renaissance literature at Rutgers University. She has published fiction, poetry and literary criticism. This is her first novel. She lives in Sydney with her husband and son.


A group of five male college friends meeting every year in Las Vegas to reconnect and reaffirm ties hasn't kept them from growing apart. When, 10 years after graduation, one of the men, Dylan, dies in a tragic accident, the remaining four-Elliot (who narrates), Cameron, Tallis, and Brian-decide to keep up the ritual get-together for the upcoming year and cope with Dylan's death. What they don't expect is to discover that Dylan, who was the one who loved doing favors and getting them all out of difficult situations, had kept a dossier listing their misdeeds and indiscretions, including rape and plagiarism, and what he had done to help. The friends expected Dylan would take their secrets to his grave, but instead, he entrusted them to his younger brother, Colin, who plans to use the information to his own advantage. While the four men try to come to terms with Dylan's actions and the consequence of their own behavior, Brian wins $430,000 at the roulette tables, perfect timing to buy off Colin. But while the four return to their lives, they are forever altered. Tranter's (The Legacy) setup is an intimate character study of friendship and deceit set against the American paean to false appearances, but the execution feels flawed. The dark secrets are simple, tawdry things, Colin is a petty villain, and Elliot's introspection isn't deep enough to fully engage readers, who will feel indifferent to the fate of the protagonists. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Sometimes what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas, especially if all the people involved would rather be someplace else. -Elliot West is one of five college friends who have been meeting once a year after graduation for an alcohol-fueled weekend in Sin City. Over the years they have grown apart, and the weekends are now more dreaded than desired. With the recent death of Dylan, the most charismatic member, the group's tenth reunion is tinged with regret-and anger. -Elliot is the last to learn of the duplicity and secrets held by others, forcing him to reexamine his relationships. A newly minted college professor, he oozes ambivalence about his work, about the women in his life, and about the reunions. VERDICT Elliot's passivity as a protagonist and blandness as a narrator make it hard to care very much about what happens to him or his friends. Not quite literary fiction, not quite a buddy novel, Tranter's sophomore effort (after The Legacy) lacks enough tension and focus to keep the reader's interest.-Jan Blodgett, -Davidson, NC (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

""A Common Loss" is a potent story of secrets, love, friendship, and the bonds that keep people close and is brimming with blackmail and deception and laced with grief, poetry, simmering emotional tension, and relationships both budding and exhausted." --"Australian Bookseller & Publisher" (Top Pick)

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