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Phaedra Cooper and the Half Boy

In 1962, Mother Earth sent fourteen-year-old Xander Gadeski to a small village in Upstate New York to uncover the truth behind the suspicious death of a Seneca girl, Pretty Flower. At least, that's what Pretty's girlfriend, Phaedra Cooper, comes to believe when she meets the minor seminarian at Pretty's grave. She notices an odd connection between Xander and Skagedi, an ancient Seneca legend, who used an array of unusual powers, including splitting himself in half, to defeat evildoers.

The relationship between this naive boy, sheltered by a close Polish Catholic family, and a girl nurtured by her Seneca culture yet isolated on the fringe of white entitlement and intolerance forms the heart of the story in Paul Drisgula's debut coming-of-age mystery novel.

Xander is an unlikely and unwilling recruit to Phaedra's cause. His father, Stary, just died. His immature brain still can't wrap itself around God letting the Dodgers slip out of Brooklyn. Before meeting Phaedra, he is bullied continually and suffers a vicious sexual assault at his new school.

The supernatural and natural worlds flow together like hot and cold from a tap as Phaedra and Xander forge an uneasy alliance to disprove the findings of the village police that Pretty's death was a suicide. Phaedra suspects boys from Xander's school murdered the love of her life. Pretty Flower communicates with the two amateur detectives through dreams as they forge a dangerous plan climaxing in an outdoor trial on the bridge where death found Pretty Flower and where Xander must use his new powers if he's to avoid a similar fate.

In Drisgula's novel, Xander tells his own story, often with a lighter touch, softening some of its harsher themes by unmasking the dark humor skulking in the shadows behind forbidden sex, bullying, death, rape, murder, and sin.

--Paul Drisgula

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