Thursday, January 19, 2012

But This is Different by Mary Walker Baron

But This is Different. Mary Walker Baron. Steel Cut Press. January 2011. 279 pages. ISBN #: 9781936380008.

Imagine waiting forty years on an isolated Pacific island, waiting for a special someone to fulfill her part of an agreement made so long ago it's almost beyond memory. Such is the life Mere, our main character, is living. It's an existence filled with constant pain and mourning that hasn't lessened with the years. Mere's only comforts are an old, crippled man and watchful woman who cherish Mere as the "Star of the Sea" of this New Guinea island! Others serve Mere and gladly run at her beck and call as if she were the treasure she is perceived to be! The woman who brought her here is revered as a goddess, even in her strange mournful absence!

Every year a mysterious box of gifts arrives on the last day of the year. It's a ritual celebrated on Mere's island almost as a religious rite but one that increases the mystical point of view of the islanders who have guarded Mere's pact for secrecy all these years. They teach her that the highest appreciation of life is to simply and lovingly "be!"

But that other woman now sends a letter in which she states she is dying and wishes Mere to return to New York to be with her beloved in her last days. Here is the journey of an older, dedicated friend who is not always mentally fit but endears all whom she meets on the journey. Inadvertently, she will wind up living as a homeless person who is briefly committed to a mental institution before ending up with her former lover.

But This Is Different is a literate, uniquely crafted novel that is absolutely mesmerizing. Secrets abound and aren't quickly revealed until the reader absorbs the complete personality of the main character which is intellectual, spiritual, and most of all deeply and lovingly emotional. Inner pain is an aching world unto itself. Committment and promises carry a depth far beyond the original words spoken and literally change one's world! The revelation of these two characters is quite stunning!

What else can one say about this beautiful, exquisite novel? Buy it, read it, and love it as much as this reviewer is sure you will! Absolutely outstanding!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Hunter by John Lescroart

The Hunter. John Lescroart. Penguin Group (USA). January 2012. 400 pages. ISBN #: 9780525952565.

Wyatt Hunt is a private investigator who suddenly receives an enigmatic text: "How did your mother die?" Up to now, Wyatt knows he was adopted but has no idea who his parents were, let alone that his mother died by some mysterious event. So begins a journey of discovery, anxiety and trauma beyond one's wildest imaginations, with connections to the infamous Jim Jones, the cultist leader responsible for the deaths of thousands back in the late 20th century.

Wyatt has a bunch of great people working for him, all of whom want to be part of figuring out how Wyatt's mother died, a hunt that will turn even more desperate after one of their own group is murdered while investigating what at first seems a very vague clue. In the process, Wyatt will be seeking who is the unrevealed texter and wanting to know why someone higher up in the Police Department has ordered him to stop fishing around in police business, even though this case has been cold for forty years.

What's Wyatt to do about a letter supposedly written by his real father, a message which declares his own innocence in the demise of his wife? Little by little, the people Wyatt and his staff are interviewing remember a little more and a little more, just enough each time to make the story even more complex and more traumatic for Wyatt. One of the hallmarks of this novel is the authenticity by which Wyatt, normally a very together, orderly guy, suffers increasing mental, emotional, and physical distress and illness. However, a relationship with a significant other improves, even through the test of dire stress to which Wyatt succumbs at one point in the story. A lifetime of coping with the unknown surfaces with horrific effects that it seems may or may not be healed with a solution to the multiple questions reached at many near dead-end points.

The Hunter is a taut, thrilling, complex and fascinating mystery about origins, cold case crime, and relationships gone awry because of hidden motives and secrets! Well done, John Lescroart!