Book Review: Twilight is Not Good for Maidens by Lou Allin

Twilight Is Not Good For MaidensTwilight is Not Good for Maidens
A Holly Martin Mystery #3
Lou Allin
Dundurn, June 2013
ISBN 978-1-4597-0601-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Corporal Holly Martin’s small RCMP detachment on Vancouver Island is rocked by a midnight attack on a woman camping alone at picturesque French Beach. Then Holly’s constable, Chipper Knox Singh, is accused of sexually assaulting a girl during a routine traffic stop and is removed from active duty. At another beach a girl is killed. An assailant is operating unseen in these dark, forested locations.

The case breaks open when a third young woman is raped in daylight and gives a precise description of the assailant. Public outrage and harsh criticism of local law enforcement augment tensions in the frightened community, but as a mere corporal, Holly is kept on the periphery. She must assemble her own clues.

I have had a ridiculously hard time making myself write this review and it’s not because there’s anything wrong with the book. Although we never met face to face, I counted Lou Allin as a friend for many years and we lost this very good writer and most excellent chum just about the time I was planning to publish my review. You might say she took the wind right out of my sails but I can’t put it off forever, especially since I think a lot of my readers will really enjoy this book.

Twilight is Not Good for Maidens is the third entry in the series featuring a Mountie based in Vancouver and the romantic lure of that organization is what first drew me in despite the fact that this particular Mountie is a female. Holly is good at her job but she does have to contend with a certain amount of bias, even dismissal. This time, the fact that the crimes are attacks against women gives Holly a little bit of an edge but she still has to investigate without much support from her colleagues and she has to go that extra mile to prove herself and her theories. Unfortunately, public opinion is running against them, not helped by the accusations leveled against her fellow Mountie, Chipper.

Lou‘s descriptions of the setting pulled me in and she was especially good at making me truly experience the uneasiness, growing into fear, that the first victim, Maddie, felt alone in the dark edge of wilderness. I couldn’t help thinking that women today, especially young ones, can sometimes put themselves into really dangerous situations. I don’t mean to say that I think Maddie and the other victims were to blame in any way for what happened to them, any more than real life women are, but I do think a little caution and forethought is not a bad thing. A girl traveling alone, sleeping in a tent in a fairly remote area where cell phones don’t work, is pushing her luck. Evil things DO happen to innocent people so why make it easier for the bad guys? Even the book’s title alludes to this, taken from a poem by Christina Rosetti, “Goblin Market”:

Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.

At any rate, leaving my soapbox aside, Holly’s pursuit of the truth, with clues leading her in all directions, is full of suspense and the secondary storyline of Holly’s search for answers in the ten-year-old disappearance of her mother is every bit as riveting. The pages turn almost on their own and I heartily recommend Twilight is Not Good for Maidens to anyone who likes a good police procedural with a very likeable and intelligent protagonist. Well done, Lou!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2015.

Book Review: Run Run Run by Lee Strauss

Run Run RunRun Run Run
Gingerbread Man Episode One
A Nursery Rhyme Suspense
Lee Strauss
Lee Strauss, December 2014

From the author—

College girl meets boy online.
A killer targets girls like her.
She’s next on the list.
The boy wants to save her.
She thinks it’s him.

It’s worse than they both think.

Teagan and Sage have been best friends forever and now they’re college roommates. Their friendship has withstood their very different personalities but the freewheeling college atmosphere is adding more than a little stress to Teagan’s life. Shy and insecure, she is drawn to the world of chat rooms because they’re safe. After all, she may never actually meet the guy she’s talking to so Marlow seems to be the ideal “date”.

When a rape occurs on campus, Teagan begins to think something is not quite right about Marlow. Is she overthinking things? Perhaps, but then a second rape occurs and this time it’s worse. Imagine, then, the fear when Teagan realizes that she may be a target. Both Teagan and Marlowe are even more puzzled by the weirdness that’s happening in their online and face-to-face relationship, with a hint that something more than what we consider normal may be happening.

Multiple points of view can be irritating but they work very well in this case, adding to the confusion of just who each of the four narrators (Teagan, Marlow, Sage and the rapist) might be. From one chapter to the next, I was baffled by what the truth might ultimately turn out to be. I was also baffled by a couple of plot points. First, I don’t understand why Teagan would be so shocked, in today’s college world, that rape can happen. She behaves as though such a thing has never happened before and most especially not at Detroit University. Detroit? There aren’t many cities that have a higher crime rate so her reaction is just not rational. The other thing that had me shaking my head was Teagan’s mother asking her to meet at a coffee shop across campus after dark. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t question that but the mother has come to the campus because she’s afraid for Teagan to travel home alone for the holidays. Why would she expose her daughter to the dangers of crossing the campus alone at night?

After a massive cliffhanger, I’m just going to have to wait but, having read other books by Ms. Strauss, I have no doubt answers will come in the next two books. A lot has been packed into this novella and I’m sure a lot more is coming.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2015.