Press Release – Break the Skin by Lee Martin

A new work of taut, dark, and beautifully crafted literary fiction
by the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Bright Forever.


A Novel



“Mr. Martin is a top-notch craftsman…what is most remarkable about BREAK THE SKIN is its restrained tone and the author’s generosity toward his very needy characters. His sympathies for them rarely seem to wane, even when they are harboring criminals, conjuring hexes or plotting murder.” —The New York Times


Lust. Deception. Lies. Murder. Critically acclaimed author Lee Martin brings us a taut, dark, and skillfully written work of literary fiction in his new novel: Break the Skin (Crown; on sale: June 14, 2011). Sure to appeal to readers of his beloved book The Bright Forever, Break the Skin follows the lives of four complicated women all yearning to find love. As they learn about themselves their journeys twist and turn, but it is what they learn about each other that may ultimately be their undoing. 

In the small town of Mt. Gilead, Illinois, we meet Laney Volk, a shy, awkward teenager alone in the world, who thinks she’s found a kindred spirit in the alluring, thirty-five-year-old Delilah Dade. “When I was with her,” Laney says, “I felt closest to being the person I was meant to be. …We could have been sisters, big and little, which some people thought we were.” Laney, desperate for Delilah’s attention, leaves an unhappy home life to move into the trailer Delilah shares with her friend Rose MacAdow.  Laney’s life hums along until one ominous day, when an act of shocking violence shatters these women’s lives forever. As Laney reconstructs the events for the police, she tells not only a story of suspense, deceit, and revenge, but also “a story of love, no matter how roughed up and ugly and stained.” It’s a story that will haunt her forever.

Seven hundred miles away, in Texas, Betty Ruiz, aka Miss Baby, has the reckless heart of a woman who is desperate to find true love. When she meets a stranger, Lester Stipp, a man who claims he can’t remember his real name or his past but who seems gentle and trusting, Miss Baby thinks she may have finally found someone to love. As the story unfolds, we learn that Miss Baby and Laney are connected by a terrible crime and the complex web of deceptions they’ve each helped to create starts to unravel. Action, speculation, and contradiction play off one another as the story is told through their first-person voices, keeping readers nervously guessing all the way to the shocking, tragic climax. Break the Skin is a novel about “wanting to matter to someone, wanting it so badly that you did things you never could.”


LEE MARTIN is the author of The Bright Forever, River of Heaven, Quakertown, The Least You Need to Know, and two memoirs, From Our House and Turning Bones. In addition to being a Pulitzer finalist, he has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, a Lawrence Foundation Award, and the Glenna Luschei Award. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Ohio State University. Visit him at:



By Lee Martin
Crown • On-sale date: June 14, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-71675-0• Price: $24
Contact: Rachel Rokicki



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