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Once again, Richard M. Baker, Jr., hits his accomplished writing stride with Neighboring Eyes, a taut, fast-moving novel about the adverse affect of societal mores on individual behavior. As is his way, Baker steps out boldly, carrying the torch and enlightening the reader with a solid depiction of everyday people struggling for a foothold on the success-driven, slippery, American dream slope.
The author manifests his talent for psychological drama by unveiling the lengths to which people go to secure and protect social position. Neighboring Eyes is his blueprint, a well-drawn tale of financial, sexual, emotional, and societal manipulation. Baker pits neighbor against neighbor in the name of neighborhood, whatever the cost, in a masterfully engineered story of exploitation, self-examination, resiliency and accountability.
Baker challenges us to question the sanity of social and economic systems -- in the author’s opinion, man-made fabrications for the masses at the expense of individuals, and clear causes for many modern-day problems. The troubled Reynolds family becomes the microcosm for a critical observation of the consequences of nonconformance with acceptable community standards.
Clever originality vitalizes the story and characters, the idea being that sometimes the most unlikely are the natural preservationists of a threatened community. In deference to the relatively innocent and unfairly victimized, Mr. Baker thoughtfully rewards the reader by plucking a champion from among the vulnerable.