It's not Robert Stone's best book, and a bit closer to genre literature than his earlier work is, but "Death of the Black-Haired Girl" is still enjoyable, and still suggests that the author, while sticking with some familiar themes, is still willing to explore new territory. Stone is still fond of describing the psychic wreckage that failed social movements leave in their wake -- a couple of characters here participated in Latin American leftist movements -- and there are a couple of comfortably bourgeois characters here haunted by improbably difficult pasts that remind me of the married couple at the center of Stone's excellent "Outerbridge Reach." Still, "Girl" is Stone's attempt at a novel that incorporates America's post-9/11 and post-Occupy anxieties, and, while I'm not sure that he deals with this material wholly successfully, it's nice to see him move past Vietnam as a social frame of reference. The most successful aspect of this book is probably its characters, who seem fully formed and, critically, come off as eminently believable products of their own complex histories. Stone, as always, has a special feel for trauma's most persistent and enduring effects, and while a couple of his younger female protagonists reflect his longstanding fascination with charismatic, risk-taking women, not to mention his own past in the gutter press, his portrayals are often insightful and sympathetic. There's also, I think, in Stone's depiction of Catholic ritual and a quietly competent mental health professional, the suggestion that faith still might be a possibility, even in this, the most spiritually disordered of literary worlds. Stone's probably rather late in his career at this point, but it's heartening to know that he's still got a book or two in him. Recommended to his fans.