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Dirt Cheap: a Novel [Paperback]

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Item description for Dirt Cheap: a Novel by Lyn Miller-Lachmann...

Lyn Miller-Lachmann's novel, Dirt Cheap, is an eco-thriller that will strongly appeal to anyone interested in ecology and the crime novel genre. In this suspenseful novel, Nick Baran, a middle-aged professor, pursues the chemical company that he believes gave him leukemia and contaminated his suburban neighborhood. His wife feels isolated, exhausted and frightened by her husband's obsessive pursuit, and ultimately begins an affair with a powerful local attorney who opposes her husband's efforts. When Sandy (the idealistic teacher of Nick's son) joins Nick's crusade, she allows herself to be drawn into a retaliatory affair and into his messy and tragic life.

Told from multiple points of view, Dirt Cheap explores the loss of innocence, the nature of courage, the price of material comforts, the place of faith and community, and the power of the individual to change lives.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is editor in chief of MultiCultural Review and an author and editor of reference books, textbooks, and books for young readers. Among these are the award-winning multicultural reference title Our Family, Our Friends, Our World and Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories for children by Latino authors. She lives in Albany, New York.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   365
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.5" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2006
Publisher   Curbstone Press
ISBN  1931896291  
ISBN13  9781931896290  

Availability  0 units.

More About Lyn Miller-Lachmann

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Dirt Cheap: a Novel?

This novel brings the issues home with great storytelling  May 7, 2007
Reading Lyn Miller-Lachmann's novel changed the way I hear the news. The phrase "fighting pollution" had developed a tired feel -- especially with climate change as the headline grabber -- but the chemical poisoning of soil and water came back in all its horror when I read Dirt Cheap. Community college history professor Nicky Baran's cancer-induced pain and the rage that keeps him going anyway, as he digs into private property (people's backyards, corporate records) to find what poisoned him, add a wrench of human drama to statistics on ruined lakes and rivers. Nicky's wife is torn by his "crazy mission," as she calls it; one fierce quarrel starts in the laundry room and ends with a fervent sexual truce on the family room floor. Holly's internal debates about the meaning of their social activism past, the emotional turmoil her children think they are hiding, and the frustration of watching cancer from the passenger seat push the book along as much as the action. Her shocking choices, and Nicky's meticulously planned, wildly dangerous and entirely illegal final assault on corporate hypocrisy makes this book a true eco-thriller. The pleasure of the storytelling is immediate, but the issues stay under your skin.

A creative and expertly crafted tale of one man's relentless and heroic struggle  Jul 5, 2006
Dirty Cheap by Lyn Miller-Lachmann is a novel about Nicholas Baran, a community college teacher struggling to expose the environmental contamination from industrial pollution which is believed to be the cause of a fatal cancer found in himself and others. Deftly authored in a vivid and active style by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Dirty Cheap rapidly carries its readers through the intricate plot of twists and turns as Baran's flailing attempts victimize him even further as a public enemy because if his efforts to expose the industrial polluters becomes successful, the local economy will tank and local property value will significantly decrease. A creative and expertly crafted tale of one man's relentless and heroic struggle for more then just his own against an entrenched and powerful system of industrial abuse, Dirty Cheap is highly recommended for inclusion into community library collections.
A must-read eco thriller  Jun 13, 2006
Lyn Miller-Lachmann's novel is beautifully written, taut, suspenseful, and informative. It is also a clarion call to what seems to be a collective societal complacency in the face of special interest corruption and impending ecological disaster.

Himilce Novas
Activist's First Novel is a Lively Eco-Thriller  Jun 2, 2006
Lyn Miller-Lachmann has dedicated her life to promoting multicultural literature in the hope that readers of all ages will learn to appreciate and admire those who come from different cultures. She also has been active in human rights, social and environmental justice, and peace groups since the mid-1970s.

She could easily rest on her laurels and call it a day.

But she now brings us her first novel, Dirt Cheap (Curbstone Press). In it, as with her other work, Miller-Lachmann does not shy away from tough questions of what we, as a people, are doing to our planet and to each other. And she does so with crisp dialogue and fully realized characters.

The heart of this novel is the relationship between Nicholas Baran and Sandy Katz. Baran, who was raised in a scrapyard by an alcoholic father, is now deep into middle age and teaching at a community college, but with an anger toward life's injustices that drives him to radical politics and a brilliant, junkyard-dog intensity in the classroom. His anger helps him survive chemotherapy as he wrestles leukemia into remission. Baran is a handful for his wife and children, but they more or less allow him to live his radicalized life.

Katz, on the other hand, is young and not yet jaded. She teaches at the local middle school and has Baran's son in her class. Katz struggles with her independence from her parents and her desire to reconnect with Judaism. She also is failing miserably as a teacher. So when she's tapped to coach the "B" team in basketball -- which includes Baran's son -- she accepts the opportunity to burnish her teaching record.

Baran agrees to assist Katz in coaching, which leads to some of the novel's most interesting interaction between the world-weary rabble-rouser and the idealistic neophyte.

But something more brings Baran and Katz together: There is an alarming rate of cancer among the children in the community. Baran already suspects corporate crimes and has been conducting soil and water samples, much to the consternation of his wife, Holly, and Marc Braxton, a local attorney who is concerned that Baran's quest could be disastrous to real-estate values and business.

Baran and Katz eventually join forces to uncover hard evidence of the intentional contamination of their community's soil and water by the Hometown Chemical Co.

Miller-Lachmann kicks her narrative into high gear as we watch this odd couple search for the truth. The novel succeeds beyond this "eco-thriller" aspect of the story because Miller-Lachmann imbues her characters with all the strengths and weaknesses that we see in those we love and know. And because Baran and Katz are so well-drawn, we eventually care for them -- despite their personal failings -- and cheer them on as they attempt to reveal the cause of the cancer clusters.

Dirt Cheap is an enthralling novel that raises complex questions about how we treat each other as well as the environment in which we live. Miller-Lachmann can now add "novelist" to her long list of literary accomplishments.

[This review first appeared in the El Paso Times.]

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