Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: No Stone Unturned by Jeanette A. Fratto

This last week, I had the opportunity to read No Stone Unturned by Jeanette A. Fratto. It's a mystery, but it's not an edge-of-your-seat type of story - instead, it's almost a literary novel, which was a welcome surprise.  The pace of the story is such that you really get into the characters' lives and thoughts and surroundings.  Here is a synopsis:

Changing the course of one’s life doesn’t usually result in danger, mystery, and intrigue. Twenty-eight-year-old Linda Davenport certainly didn’t anticipate such an outcome when she decided to leave her stable and predictable life as a teacher to travel cross country for new beginnings, but unexpected events dictated otherwise. Flying from her hometown of Detroit to Los Angeles, she has a chance encounter with Carol Alder, a lovely woman and probation officer by profession. Their initial meeting promises to blossom into a close friendship.

Settling in at the beautiful home of Edith Carter, who rents Linda a room more for companionship than income, she manages to spend a day with Carol before starting her new job as copy editor at a publishing company. In a few short days Linda’s world is turned upside down when her job fails to materialize due to a sudden reorganization, and Carol is killed in an auto accident under mysterious circumstances. 

Jobless but determined to remain in California, Linda is thrown into further turmoil when Carol’s brother Gregory is convinced her death was no accident and believes someone in the probation/court system was responsible. Only he can’t fathom why. Linda’s job hunting eventually takes her into the probation system where she begins to uncover disturbing information that leads her to agree with Gregory. 

Unable to trust anyone, Linda never reveals to her co-workers that she knew Carol, and as she learns more about the system through her initial training and subsequent assignment as an investigator, she puts together more pieces of the puzzle. 

Along the way she reconnects with David Wyndham, a former college love who is now overseeing the establishment of a local drug program, the success of which is crucial to his future. He becomes her ally in her quest to learn why Carol died, but when she uncovers what may be the truth, it threatens not only his future but possibly their future together. 

Conflicted by her sense of duty and her love for David, Linda nevertheless follows her conscience, with a resolution both logical and surprising.

“No Stone Unturned” blends an engrossing story line with the inner workings of Probation, a fascinating branch of law enforcement rarely explored by other writers. The author’s 26-year career in this field ensures that the reader will get a true glimpse into this world, will be thoroughly entertained, and will keep turning pages until the stunning ending.

This novel was a very interesting read for me.  It was the first time I've seen a mystery told in a more literary style, and to me, it was the kind of scenario that fit real life - when we discover something amiss and we go about setting it right.  It was the kind of mystery that could happen to any one of us, minus the high-speed car chases and gun fights that so few of us (thankfully) experience in reality. I enjoyed tasting the atmosphere in the story and being able to really visualize the setting as I read.

The author worked in the field of probation for twenty-six years, and so when she writes about her character becoming a probation officer, she really knows what she's talking about.  She explains the system well and helps the reader to understand the process of training to work in this field.

If I were to point out one thing about the book that I felt might have been tweaked, I would say that I might have liked to see the mystery brought to the forefront a little sooner.  We did spend a lot of time discussing the character's training, etc, and it seemed as though the mystery was an afterthought, more of a side plot rather than the main theme.  And there's nothing wrong with having the mystery be the subplot - it's just a bit of an unusual balance, that's all.

This novel was clean, not relying on crass language to put the story across.  There were a couple of bed scenes, but each were alluded to, rather than described, and I never felt uncomfortable reading them.  That's a major thing for me, and I appreciated the author's approach.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and one that I recommend.

You can purchase the hard copy version here, and the Kindle version here.

I received a copy of this book from the author, but this did not influence my opinion of the product

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for the review!

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