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by Jamie Mason
Simon & Schuster, March 2013
303 pages
ISBN: 1451685033

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

About mid-way through this complicated story involving multiple murders, all of the characters converge at a gravesite under the most tense and perilous conditions. Mason does a wonderful job of making the circumstances work to create what could otherwise seem to be the most unrealistic of coincidences. At this point, she also manages just a bit of comic relief during an extremely tense situation, providing the reader with the release of nervous laughter. In her acknowledgments, Mason says, "If I wrote it right, you and I, for a few hours, have ignored time and space, and the fundamental solitude of living alone in our own skulls." She wrote it right.

Jason Getty is a timid man who counts himself fortunate to have had his wife die just before she left him. He lives alone, and thanks to a random act of kindness he perpetrated, finds himself bullied by the one man he thought might be his friend. Once again, he finds that death can save him from problems, and he buries the bully at the far end of his back yard. A couple of years later, he hires some gardeners who uncover another body in his yard, and then yet another is uncovered. The complications that arise from these discoveries, and the way that the stories of the various characters are intertwined, are far too complex to attempt to summarize. And anyway, part of the fun of this book is seeing how the author pulls off the many connections.

In addition to being a hugely engrossing thriller, this book is also something of a meditation on loneliness. Each of Mason's characters is transformed through relationships that form with others as the events play out. My favorite connection was the one that formed between Tim Bayard, the flinty detective, and Tessa, the police dog. The characterization in the book, whether human or canine, is very well realized, and the manner in which Bayard and Tessa bond as they try to find Tessa's owner is heartwarming in the midst of fearful situations.

This is a debut novel, and it is not presented as the start of a series. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that Mason will pick up one or both of the policemen as series characters and give us more of these terrific characters and her wonderful writing.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, February 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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