Authors Showcase: Show Me a Mystery
January 19, 2013
The Book: Red Lory
The Author: Dave Newell
The Story: Dave Newell’s debut chronicles love lost, hope taken, and the enduring consequences of selfish devotion. This dark, psychological literary puzzle has been described as “eccentric” and “beautiful” with an effortless plot.
Douglas Howard’s days as a small-town physician are numbered. He is in debt, and the only way out he sees is to take up with the lonely, calculating wife of a dying patient who will leave behind a sizable fortune. As they wait, their lives become complicated by the troubles of Dr. Howard’s desperate secretary, Miss Derringer, who has her affections set on the doctor.
What follows is a fatal scandal and an exploration of human expression, desire and manipulation all in the name of love. In the middle of it all is a strange and beautiful parrot, innocent from everything that goes on around her, but thoroughly involved.
The novel was described by Lisa Cole as “Alfred Hitchcock meets Poe meets Lost.”
Review by L. Hansen: Douglas Howard is a small town physician, with an even smaller practice on a decline. Dr. Howard is a lonely man, a survivor of heartbreak who finds comfort in the company of Hannah, a small crimson parrot. Hannah is a quick learner but also full of mischief.
When Douglas is confronted with the reality of his financial troubles, he confides in Miss Derringer, his office assistant, who is not only dependent of Dr. Howard’s income but also dependent of their friendship. Miss Derringer sets to do whatever is needed to keep both afloat.
Life in a small town is not always simple. A place where everyone knows everyone, reputation is your best currency. Red Lory will take you to the heart of the town and let you decide what to make of it.
As usual, I never read synopsis of books, so when I first started to read this book, I realized that this book was not contemporary fiction. Literary fiction indeed, I guess it could also be classified as historical fiction even. While there is a romance element, this is not chick-lit. Dave Newell’s writing is clean and descriptive without being overbearingly wordy.
I love how the author set the scene in a small town at a time where the best transportation method was walking to and fro. You really get the sense of the happenings of a small community when everything and everyone is within walking distance. I noticed that while the characters were not physically described in great detail, I had no problem picturing their faces and manners. The character development was consistent and the narration was uniform too.
The main reason why I gave this book 5 stars is because the author finished the book like a magician. He finished the act with an illusion of resolution to satisfy the reader without ever giving away his secrets.
Review by Charles Sheehan-Miles: Red Lory is a remarkable and disturbing book by debut novelist Dave Newell.
I’ve read a number of comparisons between Red Lory and old Hitchcock films, but if I had to draw a literary parallel, Douglas Howard reminds me the most of Ethan Allen Hawley in the Steinbeck’s Winter of Our Discontent. It has the texture and feel of a film from the 1940s, and I couldn’t help but imagine much of it in black and white, except for the bird, which was clearly Technicolor.
Red Lory is not a light read, though its very short length might lead you to think so, at first. In fact, it has heavy undertones, dealing with love, family misunderstandings, and above all moral questions of right and wrong.
The book is very understated in its emotional tone and intentionally leaves unanswered questions and thought provoking moments, though toward the end there are a couple of gasp worthy moments. Dave Newell is very economical and careful about every word, and they are executed perfectly. Well worth reading more than once.
The Book: Another Day in Paradise
The Author: Laurie Hanan
The Story: Dog nappings have doubled on O`ahu over the past year. Brazen thefts of beloved pets from their homes have the community on edge. A beautiful, mysterious Chinese actress is distraught when her Pomeranian is stolen.
Mail carrier Louise Golden finds the missing pooch, only to learn the actress is suddenly gone, with her belongings. Dogs are disappearing. Street people are being abducted by aliens—or so claims Louise’s homeless friend, Frankie. Clues point in different directions. Nothing adds up.
A masked man appears out of nowhere and warns Louise to mind her own business. What did he mean? Everyone is a suspect: her boyfriend who tells stories for a living, the ex lover who once betrayed her, the acting coach skilled in the art of deception, the shameless stalker in the yellow Tweety Bird van.
At the polo field, tempers flare. Someone’s bound to get hurt. Things heat up for Louise, as well, when a sexy Brazilian polo player befriends her. Is he truly a friend, or a rake intent on seducing vulnerable women?
Can Louise even trust her own spiritual awakening to help her find a path to understanding—or is she faking it and running blindly to a dead end? What will she do when she comes face to face with her greatest fears?
Review by James R. Ludwig: This latest book is again set on the lovely Island of Oahu and takes our mail-carrier sleuth on an excitement-filled trip which includes a finely crafted mystery and a moving look into our protagonist’s personal life.
For those who have read the previous two books in this series, the passage of time has produced intriguing changes in many of the continuing characters. For new readers, the completely integrated plot will make you a fan and entice you to catch up on what you’ve been missing. Great job Laurie. You have really hit your stride with this one.
Review by Carol Stern: Once again, Laurie Hanan hit a home run! Louise Golden takes the reader on a journey that surprises at every turn and keeps one wanting more. An excellent story line with subplots that are intriguing.
Laurie always amazes me with her in-depth knowledge of the topics she weaves into her writing. This third book in a series of Louise Golden novels is an excellent read and left me wanting the next installment.
Review by Karen Gorman: Laurie Hanan has crafted another page-turner, a mystery replete with interesting people, plausible plot twists and several nods to the characters’ evolving histories.
She fleshes out players we’ve met in previous Louise Golden books and places Ms. Golden in positions requiring fortitude and balance. We root for the heroine and understand her motivations. I eagerly await her next adventure!