Monday, July 18, 2011

Cassidy Creek Bridge: The Long and the "Short" of it

Sue Wentz just released a short story I really love. Not everyone can describe a couple's entire relationship in such a brief story, but she has done exactly that. "Cassidy Creek Bridge"  is the account of two people who seek shelter from a rainstorm. As is often the case when a man meets a women, a little flirtation develops and becomes a "what if" chance for a future together. In only three very limited conversations, the author portrays two well-developed characters, tension, romance, betrayal, and more. Her use of language and imagery in this story also plays an important role in making the whole thing work so well.

I'll be watching in September for her young adult novel, Servant To The Wolf. Can't wait for another great read!

Sue Wentz is an award-winning author of short stories and articles. She is also the author of a previous novel called The Bluff. She lives in Wisconsin where she enjoys horses, greyhounds, and writing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Anonymous Client

By JP Hailey (Parnell Hall)
ISBN: 978-1-936441-22-8,
e-book edition released 2011,
232 pages.

 This is another fast-paced novel featuring criminal defense attorney, Steve Winslow. The protagonist is clever and so is the novel. It’s also slick, fast-paced, amusing and entertaining. The author has a good sense of his readers and their likely primary interests. He also has a good eye for detail and a finely-honed ability to use words to their maximum effect.

The novel begins and ends with personnel problems in Winslow’s office, a nice counterpoint to the main theme. The problem is a little fillip that adds some rhythm to the book. In the beginning, Winslow’s sole employee, Tracy Garvin, complains of being seriously underworked. That’s because her boss has a tendency to not appear in the office for weeks on end, and that’s because Winslow has few clients.

One day, as the novel opens, a letter arrives. It contains ten one thousand dollar bills. Thus is laid the basis for a very entertaining, very complicated murder and blackmail plot. As is the case with other novels in this series, the plot is a morass of mis-direction, tricky timing, private detectives, and a lot of both internal and external speculation and dialogue. The book is rife with minutia, details that enhance and color the reader’s perceptions of what has just happened, what it may mean and where the story is going next.

Set in New York City, Hall and his protagonist mine the rich variety of setting and character in mostly excellent ways. There is considerably less action in the novel than is often found in crime fiction except for the courtroom scenes which are among the most compelling I have ever read. Dialogue heavy, with sometimes arcane legal maneuvering; these scenes crackle with urgency and tension as we watch the nimble attorney skate along the edge of legal chasms while trying to save his client, sometimes without even knowing who his client is.

Carl Brookins Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky