Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Messengers by Edward Hogan

Published by Candlewick Press
Review based on Advance Reading Copy (ARC)

A dark and lonely book, intense and moody. Not quite what one would expect, this book does capture the attention once the real action begins. A bit of a slow start, with Frances mourning her absent brother, a boxer who is on the run. She is sent to live with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin until things settle down. The main characters are teens, young and old teens. The characters are fairly well developed considering their ages. Written for young adults, I don't think I would recommend it for younger age groups. It is a fascinating psychological study in which the two main characters unwillingly hold life and death in their hands, but a philosophical one as well.  A unique plot and concept by Edward Hogan to keep us questioning.

Fifteen-year-old Frances doesn't know or understand her "gift" but wishes she didn't have it once she learns what it is. When she meets Peter, who has lived with this for several years, he mentors her. It's rather fascinating when we get into the idea that these two have a talent in art, but their art is only visible to themselves...to others it is somewhat like cubic or similar to Picasso's most abstract work. But it is why and how they do this that is the story and the nightmare. 

What would you do if you found you were a messenger of death, would you try to avoid it, change it? What if found out if you didn't deliver the message to avoid that person dying, someone in your own family would die in their place? And what would you do if you thought you had found a way out of this horrible dilemma? This is truly a psychological thriller. Where and how will it all end? Who will be next? This book stays with you long after reading it. Will Frances' discovery make a difference to the message? Or will she remain a messenger as long as she lives.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Island of Bones (Louis Kincaid) by P.J. Parrish

A plot as twisted and hidden as the tangled mangroves, suspenseful, dark, yet curiously entertaining.

This is my first visit to the world of Louis Kincaid, and what an adventure it was! With a sort of laid back beginning through to the final whirlwind, it truly kept my attention. A hurricane sweeps the Florida island where he lives and washes up what he originally believes to be a murdered baby's skull. It takes a new father only a quick glance to inform him that it is a newborn's skull and no murder. It also appears to be about 500 years old. Is this a portent of things to come? Will this innocent child connect the dots? For some reason, Kincaid has become very attached to this baby's skull and can't escape the thoughts about what could have caused it's death.

Once we really get into the book, we get into the world of missing girls, a strange privately owned island, a possible serial killer...but I'm getting ahead of myself. For the missing persons case, an unlikely relationship builds up between the new head detective and our private investigator, Louis Kincaid. Kincaid has been approached by a woman who wants him to follow her father, Frank Woods. She suspects him of killing the girl who has gone missing. With not much to go on, why would she hire a private detective for this vague premise? While watching her father, he finds him to be a very mild-mannered librarian. Following him seems a waste of time, he rarely changes his routine. But there are many questions.

The book suddenly takes off, having grabbed my attention thoroughly while following the whys and wherefores up until now. A connection is made to another island, the action and suspense begin to take on much more momentum, adrenaline flows and so does mine as I read. An ancient Roman/Spanish family tree, Asturian descendents who often speak in Latin, owners and protectors of the island Away So Far, a misnomer based on the Spanish for Island of Bones, Isla de huesos. P.J. Parrish has done very deep research to back up this story line. The background is as much a character as any of the people. History, mystery, murder, and genetics all rolled into one strong story. Great characterizations, great twisting plot as twisted and hidden as the tangled mangroves, suspenseful, dark, yet curiously entertaining.