Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviews: The Fates Will Find Their Way & The South Lawn Plot

It's been too long since I've posted book reviews! Here are two from the beginning of this year that I did for "Suspense Magazine"


“The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard:

This is the most unusual book I’ve read in awhile, being in first person plural with lots of verb tenses that would be awkward for many writers. Not for Pittard, though. The story pursues the mystery of the elusive and enigmatic Nora through what-ifs, maybes and might have beens. Possible pasts are explored and discarded, though some are held onto by the group of boys as they progress through high school into adulthood.
It starts as an angst-ridden drama of newly hormonal teenagers. When one of their group, Nora, goes missing, the group considers alternate scenarios to explain to themselves, collectively, what happened to her. It’s an elitist bunch of boys who permit one “public schooler” into their midst, but only on the outskirts. In spite of this, we come to appreciate them and sympathize with their difficulties. Nora disappears on Halloween, and subsequent Halloweens are never again normal events for them. One of their female classmates is raped by a big brother of another classmate and they are tenderly protective of her. Nora’s younger sister, Sissy, is perhaps the mostly profoundly affected by her sister’s disappearance and unresolved fate. The boys close solicitous ranks around her, too, as much as they can.
The reader watches in fascination as the boys mature and become the men that their teenage years laid foundations for. And, always running through their lives, even as they marry and have children, are the questions surrounding Nora. The fantasies they form are fed by sightings over the years that may or may not have really been Nora. They create alternate lives she might have, would probably have or could have led.
There are some hilarious scenes, but most are serious and give the reader plenty of fodder for speculation and thought.
I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. In spite of the unusual literary style, it’s readable, even flowing and my interest never ever flagged.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “A Patchwork of Stories”, for Suspense Magazine

“The South Lawn Plot” by Ray O'Hanlon:

I think you have to call this a thriller, technically. It doesn't quite move like one, but the cast, geography and tangled plot are complex—gigantic even. There's a lot to recommend here as we follow Nick Bailey, a London reporter, into a story that starts out murky and gets deeper and deeper into a real, pea-soup fog.
The interwoven plots involve an odd, religious order with roots in the 1600s. The present day priests of that order: a wealthy Taiwanese businessman with a grudge and a terminal illness, a famous photographer who has a much darker sideline occupation, a frustrated, Irish freedom fighter and the top political figure in the world. Their conspiracies snowball. Nothing will stop them except, perhaps, Nick, the intrepid and courageous reporter and a few British police officers who stand in the way. Some American counterparts come into play also as we skip from continent to continent and world-wide war looms if the diplomacy isn't handled exactly right.
From the beginning, with dangling suicidal priests, these disparate groups weave a tangled plot whose strands gradually twine together to create a rope of intrigue that may be too strong to be broken. Throw in MI5, MI6 and a few American agencies and you've got a potboiler. A very satisfying read.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

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