Desolation Row. Kay Kendall. March 2013. The Armchair Publisher. March 2013. 258 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780985994211.
Austin Starr’s husband David is a “draft dodger” (term used for those without refused to fight in the Vietnam War) and has taken her to live in Canada where they are both pursuing academic careers. Austin isn’t completely happy there, is rather homesick and finds the culture in Canada very different from America. Things are about to get even more difficult for her and her husband. Even though they’re living outside America, they are still part of the protest movement which is actually picking up steam in both countries. Murder suddenly alters their world!
One of the protest leaders, Reginald Simpson, the son of an American Senator, has been great for the movement but has earned a few enemies as well. When Austin one night stumbles over his dead body, she is totally traumatized but quickly has to recover when David is accused of the murder. Having spent some brief time being trained to work for the CIA, albeit never pursuing that career, she knows with every fiber of her being that David is innocent and sets her course to find the killer. This drive doesn’t exactly endear her to the Canadian Mounties, who don’t know about her background and see her as meddlesome. However, she does make a somewhat strange semi-friendship with one of the officers and manages to share her findings with him.
At the same time she comes under the protection of her university mentor, a Professor of Russian history, and his daughter. They help her examine her questions: Who hated Reg so much to kill him? Why was Reg so out of sync with his father and why is there something shady about Reg’s father? What’s the difference between hating the system that turns to war in times of conflict and just not wanting to fight in a war? Other questions appear on so many pages but the most important is who is now threatening Austin?
The ending will be quite a surprise and another point of view that really most will realize we don’t think of too often. Desolation Row is a good read, an engaging mystery, and a satire of the anti-war movement in some ways. Interesting read!