Sunday, January 05, 2020


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.