Sunday, January 05, 2020

WEST OF FAMOUS


West of Famous
Joni M. Fisher
ISBN: 9780997257540
A 2018 release from
Joni Fisher

A handsome evocative cover introduces a riveting tale of kidnapping, identity mistakes, the internal power of a young woman and the kind of inevitable encompassing efforts of law enforcement when called on.
Martina Ramos, a bright college graduate student in immersed in the college grind of prepping for exams at Oxford. Her college friends believe her on break, her family thinks she’s studying, nose to grindstone. Certain other friends believe she’s taking a brief break from a chance encounter with a pop star. The pop star needed a favor, a stand-in to take her place for a few weeks on the party circuit in south Florida. Martina fits the role to a T.
When she awakens in the foul hold of a boat anchored somewhere off the Florida coast, the number of people who truly know where she is has been reduced to three or maybe four. And they are not Martina’s friends.
What follows is a carefully designed increasingly tense and terror filled effort to find the kidnapped college student while keeping her true identity secret, because her family doesn’t have the kind of ransom money being demanded.
As Martina’s family, experienced law enforcement and military types, come together with a small cadre of FBI agents, plans are formed to rescue the girl before her true identity is discovered and before the looming deadline for delivery of the ransom money arrives. The plans and movements which form the bulk of this well-written novel are carefully and logically laid out. Meanwhile, readers are treated to the terror-filled existence of the young girl, contrasted with her tough-minded cautious efforts to extricate herself from the clutches of the kidnappers. The possibility of death for the unfortunate girl is well-explicated in both narratives, that of her searchers and her own interactions with her captors.
The novel is peopled with a range of interesting individuals and their interactions are both logical and well-reasoned so that readers will be eminently satisfied as the resolution looms ever closer. A thoroughly enjoyable crime novel.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Minnesota Orchestra Jump-starts 2020


First concert of the year brought a varied group of artists to the forefront, from Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s (amusing) Guide to the Orchestra,” written and narrated by Kevin Kling and Peter Maxwell Davies, “An Orkney Wedding With Sunrise,” in which the transition from solemnity to carousing to peaceful dawn is carefully evident. The Guide highlighted the talent and musical abilities of individual members and instrumental sections of the orchestra.
The afternoon concert began with a bright bang and up-tempo rendition of Elgar’s Military March from “Pomp and Circumstance.” Visiting UK solo virtuoso Jessie Gillam convincingly demonstrated the possible range of her alto saxophone, offering Closing In from “Escapades” by John Williams, and Darius Milhaud’s “Scaramouche Suite.” Her bright musical selections ranged from thoughtful classical themes to clear jazz idioms.
Osmo Vanska concluded the concert with a rousing “Rule Britannia” from Thomas Arne. The small but enthusiastic audience responded in kind.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

IDYLL HANDS


Idyll Hands                
By Stephanie Gayle
ISBN: 978-1-63388-482-3
A 2018 release from
Seventh Street Books

Not to mince words, this is an excellent novel. The story travels between 1972 in Charleston, Massachusetts, and 1999 in Idyll, Connecticut. In its emotional beginning, Susan, the sixteen-year-old sister of a new policeman, Michael Finnegan, is running away from home, at least for a few days. Why, we don’t know for sure.
Twenty-six years later, in a town not far from Charleston, the new chief of police in Idyll, Connecticut, named Thomas Lynch, is confronted with allergies and the preserved bone of an unknown woman or girl, the cops in that town have named Colleen. The bone is from a body unknown and unnamed found years earlier.
And so the story begins. As it unfolds, Michael Finnegan, now an experienced detective and his boss, Chief Lynch, working together and separately, among the small force of law enforcement people, confront questions of other missing young women. And throughout the novel, the hard loss of Finnegan’s still missing sister is always present.
In carefully measured chapters, the search for the woman found in the grave in Idyll is laid out and the detectives draw ever closer to the murderer. At the same time, detective Finnegan continues to pick away at random small clues to the enduring mystery of his sister’s disappearance.
Scenes are carefully and sometimes elaborately described; the pace of the novel is intense, and readers will be treated to a small cadre of police individuals whose emotional investments in their careers are carefully laid out, along with the civilian sides of life. Readers will also be treated to an interesting look at the process of crime detection in this town where the authorities are anything but idle.
In carefully measured chapters, the search for the woman found in the grave in Idyll is laid out and the detectives draw ever closer to the murderer. At the same time, detective Finnegan continues to pick away at random small clues to the enduring mystery of his sister’s disappearance.
Scenes are carefully and sometimes elaborately described; the pace of the novel is intense, and readers will be treated to a small cadre of police individuals whose emotional investments in their careers are carefully laid out, along with the civilian sides of life. Readers will also be treated to an interesting look at the process of crime detection in this town where the authorities are anything but idle.