A Blog for Mystery Lovers

Posts tagged ‘thriller’

“Eyes Wide Open” by Andrew Gross

The unique thing about “Eyes Wide Open” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011) is that it was inspired by a real life tragedy.  In 2009, the author’s 25 year old nephew, Alex Gross, was found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay, having jumped or fallen to his death. Severely troubled, Alex had only days before been released from a hospital mental health ward in care of a small halfway facility from which he went for a walk, never to return.  Was it suicide or something else?

Andrew has taken this real-life and very personal happening and crafted a book which begins wth a fictional character suffering the same fate as Alex, and then proceeds to unravel the mystery of his death.  It is also a story of two brothers, one successful and one wayward, trying to bridge the gap between them, while each revelation from the past puts them in more danger.

Andrew has made this story exciting, thought-provoking, and also heart-wrenching, all the more so because of its link to real life, and it is well worth a read.  An author who may never find the solution to his own real life mystery has perhaps achieved some sort of closure by inventing a fictionalized solution for his characters.  Well done, Andrew.

To read about Alex and the circumstances of his tragic death go to www.alexwemissyou.com.

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“13 1/2” by Nevada Barr

This is a terrific book!  I had never read anything by Nevada Barr before, although she has been writing the Anna Pigeon Mystery series for some time.  However, this is a recent stand-alone book (2009, Vanguard Press), not part of the series, so I chose it for my first read.

When I picked the book up at the library, I was surprised to learn it was still a 14-day book.  I thought , “OK,  I need to make sure I get this one read in a hurry.”   Not to worry – I picked  it up on Monday at 4:00 P.M. and finished it on Wednesday by 2:00 P.M.  I could not put it down!

This story is about Dylan Raines who, as a child, was convicted of murdering his parents and younger sister, and how his later life under an assumed identity intersects with a woman, Polly Deschamps, who also has a sordid past to hide.  The murders take place in Minnesota in the 1970’s, and these two meet later in 2007 in post-Katrina New Orleans.  The book flashes back and forth between these two time periods, which is not a problem, since each section is clearly marked when there is a shift in time, and the chronology makes perfect sense.

When Polly gets a warning from a mysterious fortune-teller, she begins to suspect the man she fell in love with is not what he seems, and that her life, along with her children’s, might be in danger.  Of course then events spiral toward an inevitable confrontation and a deadly conclusion.

The author goes to great lengths to try and get into the head of a psychotic killer, describing in detail what happens in Dylan’s mind while he is locked away in a mental hospital.  Once in a while, these descriptions seem a little overdone to me, but other than that, I loved the book.  It takes place in New Orleans, one of my favorite spots, so I enjoyed that aspect of it especially.  I could picture where the scenes were taking place, making them all the more vivid.

Try this one – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Nevada Barr’s website:  http://www.nevadabarr.com/

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