Book Review: The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow and Blue Suede Shoes by Deborah Reardon

The Diviner's TaleThe Diviner’s Tale
Bradford Morrow
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2011
ISBN 978-0-547-38263-0
Hardcover

A woman haunted, formed, and shaped by her past. A killer who never lost the monster inside. These are what Morrow‘s latest book brings into play. Gentle humor, abounding love, simple lives. This one has it all.

Cassandra Brooks is a diviner in upstate New York. One morning, while performing her craft, she encounters a dead girl hanging from a tree. However, upon returning to the site, the body is gone. Soon, however, another girl very much alive is found. Thus begins a strange summer long experience for Cassandra, one of reflection on her diviner’s gift, her ailing father, and trying to fathom the mystery of why a killer stalks her, even to a remote island off the coast of Maine.

There is a lot of back story and memories and very little ‘mystery’. This book runs on an even keel throughout with little tension or action. Vivid descriptions brought me into the story. This is a tale about a woman reviewing her life, in which direction she wants to go in the future, and caring for her children. The ‘murder’ is a backdrop to add substance and to ultimately help her with her decisions.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, January 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.

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Blue Suede ShoesBlue Suede Shoes
Deborah Reardon
River Grove Books/Greenleaf Book Group, October 2012
ISBN 978-1-938416-11-8
Trade Paperback

A missing child must be the worst nightmare for parents. But what if one of those parents exhibits apathy after the fact? What if the police have written the disappearance and supposed death as an accident? What if the only one who cares can’t get anybody to listen to her reasoning? This is what happens in Blue Suede Shoes. A small Midwestern town is rocked by a child disappearing but other things divert attention.

What happened to young Mary Martin all those weeks ago? The story opens upon one man finding blood and the girl’s cherished shoes in the woods. Soon, the police and, apparently, the parents, deem the incident closed. An accident. Misadventure, perhaps a wild animal. For Clare Paxton, local banker, the situation doesn’t ring true. She can’t fathom the attitudes from the local populace who seem to be more up in arms over the possible destruction of a bell tower. Or from her nerve wracking mother who can’t accept Clare dating the sheriff. Or from said sheriff who thinks more about a deeper relationship with Clare than he does about solving what more and more is looking like a crime.

Several subplots take the focus away from the mystery of the missing girl. It’s only the persistence of Clare which kept me interested in finishing the book. I wanted right to come out on top. I kept rooting for Clare to go further, dig deeper, stir up more trouble. Which she did. Good read!

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, January 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.