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by Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance Press, April 2014
272 pages
ISBN: 1564745422

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Back in Berkeley to clear out her childhood home after her father's death, filmmaker Maggie MacGowen finds the famous Thomas Wolfe title, "you can't go home again," to be true. While the task itself is more time-consuming than difficult, there are ghosts of her past everywhere she turns. Sorting through her father's desk, Maggie finds a stash of film reels her father shot years ago. Those films bring back lot of painful memories and questions from the past.

Maggie's father often followed and filmed her in order to document any violations of the restraining order against her birth mother. On one of the films, Maggie realizes he had filmed the showdown between Maggie and Larry Nordquist, the local bully, as she defended Beto Bartolini. That very day, Beto's mother was murdered and the case never solved. As she looks at the movie, she realizes that her father may have withheld evidence and is puzzled as to why her father wouldn't have given this particular film to the police. She contacts her high school flame and current city cop Kevin Halloran and learns that Beto has asked Kevin to reopen his mother's murder case again. Maggie, being curious herself and somewhat of an amateur sleuth also starts nosing around.

THE COLOR OF LIGHT is a fabulous book on many levels. The mystery is well plotted and tightly written. Just as readers start to figure things out, there are surprising twists in the plot that take the investigation in a new direction. The characters, even the relatively minor ones, are well fleshed out allowing the reader to understand what motivates their actions. Maggie is an extremely likeable protagonist who responds to situations in a believable way. She seems very real. Even though her father is dead, he plays a major role in the book and the reader is able to get to know him through the books he force fed to his kids, his garden design (which is where the title comes from) and his position in the neighborhood.

But the one thing that really makes this book special is the description of the multicultural neighborhood and how the various ethnicities contribute to the story. From Mr Sato, MacGowen's Japanese gardener to Beto Bartolini with his Italian father and Vietnamese mother, the various cultures are very much a part of this book. The annual Hungry Ghost Party in celebration of the Vietnamese holiday Vu Lan was especially interesting.

THE COLOR OF LIGHT is the ninth book by Wendy Hornsby with protagonist Maggie MacGowen. However, readers need not have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one completely. There are references made to previous events, presumably occurring in the earlier books, but in the course of Maggie's thoughts or conversations with others enough back story is given to satisfy the reader. I suspect others new to this series will, like me, be so taken with the protagonist that they will want to go back and read at least some of the earlier books.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, March 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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