The week's last guest blogger is Karen Olson, author of the Annie Seymour mysteries and former travel editor of the New Haven Register. Karen's most recent novel, DEAD OF THE DAY, came out last week from NAL. She contributes to the First Offenders blog. If you live in southern Connecticut, you can see her in person tonight at RJ Julia Booksellers. 7:00 p.m., don't be late!
The Book: Alice Hoffman, TURTLE MOON. Putnam, 1992; fair condition
First read: 1995
Owned since: 1993
I received this book from my mother, who was living in Florida at the time and sent a note saying she thought I would like it because she was living in Florida. Precisely because of that, I didn’t read it. (My mother and I have a rather passive aggressive relationship, one that is not unlike the relationship my protagonist Annie has with her mother.)
But one day I had nothing new to read and pulled the book off my shelf. This is now one of my most favorite books ever. I kick myself that I didn’t read it earlier, but I re-read it now almost every year. The spine is cracked, the cover nicked up, pages dog-eared.
This story sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the last page. The prose slips along with passages that make you catch your breath.
Verity, Florida is one of those places that people escape to from other places, choosing to hide their pasts. No one will ask questions. Verity is especially hot during the month of May, so hot that it can make “grown men cry,” and anything can happen. It is during the month of May that Bethany, aka Karen, is murdered, and her little girl is missing along with Keith, the meanest boy in Verity. A town cop, Julian, is haunted by his own past and a tree that shelters the spirit of a boy he killed in a car accident long ago. Lucy is Keith’s mother, and sparks fly when she meets Julian.
It is a murder mystery, a romance, a bit of woo-woo, an amazing character study. The language is liquid and smooth: “This is the time of night when the humidity can be downright unbearable, the ivory hour when nothing rises, not even your spirit. They stand facing each other beneath the glow-in-the-dark stars, not noticing when the stars begin to fall, one by one, pulled down by the thick, wet air. Neither of them has to be told that once someone is lost a stone forms in the place where h used to be. Rattle it once, in the smooth cup formed by your hand, and you may just draw blood.”
Gives me chills. In a good way.