Help Me Reach 12 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Department of Book Reports #16, the Binary Edition

Owl Island, Randy Sue Coburn (Ballantine, $7.99)
Death Pans Out, Ashna Graves (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95)

Today I'll focus on a couple of local gals I'm utterly smitten with. Randy Sue has screen writer credits from Dorothy Parker & the Vicious Circle, and Ashna Graves (whose real name is Wendy Madar, is the creator of Eloquent Nude). It may be the screenwriting background that these women bring so well to these novels. The characters are so-well drawn, and the scenery so beautifully painted. Both stories stay with you long after reading.

Owl Island is set on the extreme islands of Washington State, and Death Pans Out explores the Eastern side of Oregon. The two ends of my world.

"Obsessive love is about rejection. Always, always always." So begins Owl Island and we know we'll be in for a bumpy ride. Phoebe Allen has survived the death of her husband, raised her daughter who is now a high tech kid in Seattle, and her obsessive old love moves to town. The ripples this throws into her life illuminate the flaws she built it all on. When the 'dog' puts the move on her daughter she is forced to admit the truths she has so carefully hidden for so long.

Death Pans Out takes journalist Jeneva Leopold to Oregon's mine country, to her uncle's old claim cabin. Thinking to escape and heal from her double masectomy, she is caught up in a mine collapse that is not what it seems. Long un-answered questions about her uncle's disappearance 15 years earlier could be tied in to what is happening now. Ashna really had me guessing to the very end: the clues were thrown down the garden path and I walked past them, happily on the trail of the scenery with my shirt off, too. This reminds me of Ridley Pearson, who so often in his fiction, precedes the newspaper headlines. When am I going to hear this actually happened?

Signed copies of both books are available at Jackson Street Books, Seattle Mystery Bookshop and Fine Independent Bookstores everywhere!

democommie™™™™®© was too excited about his High Skool Reunion to be any help at all this week.