Authors Showcase: Suspenseful Intrigue
April 6, 2013
The Book: Dark Pool
The Author: Helen Hanson
The Story: Maggie Fender’s law degree remains a daydream as she supports her ex-felon half-brother and their incoherent father. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dad’s rarely lucid, but when he’s accused of murder, only the gorgeous Russian neighbor flickers Maggie’s hope.
In the news, disgraced hedge fund manager Patty O’Mara awaits trial for bilking investors out of forty billion dollars. The legendary dark pool wizard offered phenomenal profits. But the SEC discovered O’Mara never made a single legitimate investment. His fund was a total scam.
Maggie’s Dad barely functions, but her hacker brother swears Dad is sending them vital messages about O’Mara’s pot of gold. A private investigator hunts for the money and aims to find it before a notorious Russian mobster. When their efforts focus on Maggie’s father, her remaining hope turns to rampant fear.
She’s the only adult left in her family, and her weary camel won’t carry a single extra straw. Her teenage brother’s hacking skills landed his ass in prison, but he swears he was framed. No fans of the Fender family, the local police assume Dad ran away when he goes missing. Maggie will never find her father without help. She’s got to trust someone.
But who can Maggie trust when everyone’s betrayed her?
Review by B. Guarino: This extremely well written thriller was a very smooth read. The characters were well developed and the main character, Maggie grabbed me immediately, as did the others- each shortly after being introduced.
There are plenty of twists in this plot-line. At each turn the author had me rooting for my favorites. This is a cyber thriller and very exciting. I don’t do spoilers, but I will say that wow, near the end of this book, there was no way I was putting it down for anything. Stayed up late to finish it and yes, I was very satisfied at its ending.
It was refreshing to have read such a quality novel, and the author even had me laughing at the most unexpected times. Perfect descriptions. If I could have rated it a ten, I would have. Well written!
Review by The Kindle Book Review: If you’re not familiar with Dark Pool by Helen Hanson – or with author Hanson herself – you should be. She writes with vivid authority about extremely real people dealing not only with Fate but with computers. She cares about her characters and makes the reader care, too. Achingly sad one moment, and then slyly witty – but always suspenseful – she knows how to spin a yarn that is driven by both strong plot and strong characters.
Her protagonist, Maggie Fender, is a young woman of our time; you may well know someone just like her. Maggie keeps meaning to go to law school, but other people’s lives keep getting in her way. Her fifteen-year-old brother has already done prison time. While he was incarcerated, she hated visiting him every week (and she wasn’t too fond of her rundown Subaru, either) but did it anyway. Her father has Alzheimer’s. Oh, and by the way, she gets herself embroiled in a white-collar crime scheme that makes Bernie Madoff seem like petty larceny.
Hanson’s prose style is fresh, creative, and always pleasantly surprising. For example, someone is described as having a smile like homemade ice cream. An application of mascara is depicted as black-brown sludge. When someone is pissed off, he experiences blood punching his temples.
In addition to the suspense of the story, the reader sits on edge awaiting the next original observation. Try it, you’ll really like it.
The Book: Sari Caste
The Author: Catherine Kirby
Manasa is abandoned by the man she should marry. He marries her sister instead. Meanwhile Manasa finds herself pregnant with his child. She flees her Bengali village wondering where to go. Eventually, she finds herself wandering the streets of Calcutta. Without money or food, life is a daily struggle. Finally, she is taken on by a brothel. She is desperately unhappy until she meets a different sort of man. This man she marries in secret and together they plan her escape from the brothel.
Murder, corruption, and intrigue threaten to swallow up the new life they attempt to establish in the beautiful hill country of Darjeeling.
Review by Joyce Metzger: Manasa left Calcutta alone without the support of family or friends. Her dreams were unsettling. She lived in fear of reproach, anger causing decisive impotence, her future tossed by storms. She had refused to cower before her father’s domination. He had shouted, “You’re nothing. You’re useless. There should be a caste for women lower than Harijans. Sari Caste!” He spat on her. He was angry because he had only three daughters and no sons. And Manasa was skillful rather than obedient.
All her dreams and hopes were dashed after Patel asked for Manasa in marriage. Her father refused, deciding that Jamal, her older sister, should become Patap’s wife. This had been done spitefully. Life seemed full of tricks.
Manasa felt Patap’s child stirring within her belly. She and her babe would both be considered outcasts. After her daughter, Lipika was born, Manasa left Calcutta. The clatter and clamor were a shock to her senses. She had fallen from poverty, down to destitution. Desperation presented a solution by declaring that she was a widow. To feed herself and her babe, Manasa was forced into prostitution. Because she could not take and hold the bitter pills, she was sterilized to prevent pregnancies. Pramath, her boss, gave her the first alcohol. Soon her head floated somewhere above her wayward body. One did not have to physically die before a new karma began. Surely it was enough to die in spirit.
The brothel became Manasa’ s life. She clung to courage despite being abused daily. Tragedy and heartbreak were accepted, and dealt with, courageously. Later, she secretly weds Dinesh. They flee to Darjeeling. She wanted to be called Patricia.
Later, a betrayal involving Dinesh and Jamal occurs. True words cut Manasa with good and bad understanding knives. A tidal wave of emotion sweeps them toward chaos.
There were never enough answers, only a continuing struggle. This is a heart wrenching very realistic novel. Her life could be compared to that of the violin spider that emits a high pitched tone as it spins out its web.
Review by jennytwist: This is an exceptionally powerful and moving story, all the more emotive since it is based on real events. Ms Kirby is a wonderful storyteller and leads the reader with consummate skill into the steamy streets of Calcutta where obscene wealth rubs shoulders with the most abject poverty – and where everything is for sale.
I was gripped from the start as I followed Manasa into places I would never have dared to venture alone. Dreadful things happen in this story, but it is not all about misery and fear. It is about the courage and ingenuity of one young woman and, above all, the human capacity for love.
I shall not forget this story. It has the impact of some of the great epic dramas such as The Grapes of Wrath and The Good Earth. Ms Kirby is an author worth looking out for.