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Crescent Blues Book ViewsBantam Books (Trade Paperback), ISBN: 0553381512
Folly -- how ironic that this title represents my first encounter with the work of Laurie R. King. What folly that it took me this long to start reading this prolific, award-winning mystery writer who produces two stellar mystery series in addition to stand-alone novels. Pure folly. But also, pure enjoyment.

Book: laurie king, follyMeet Rae Newborn, a 52-year-old woman on the edge. She teeters on the "edge of sanity, the edge of tragedy and now, the edge of the world." Rae, a celebrated sculptor recently released from a psychiatric hospital, strives to rebuild the house she inherited from her mysterious great-uncle. At the same time, she hopes to rebuild her life and disentangle herself from the paranoia, panic and creepy feelings that someone watches her. She also sorts out her relationships, coming to terms with loved ones who died and those who live.

Her daughter, Tamara, alive and determined to punish Rae for being a bad mother, uses her own daughter Petra as a pawn, usually dangling her just out of Rae's reach. Tamara's greedy husband willingly trades Petra for his mother-in-law's money, and Rae pays the price for time with her granddaughter. She knows where the real worth lies -- in loving relationships, not wealth.

Book: Laurie King, grave talentLetters to her granddaughter, to her psychiatrist, to her daughter show Rae's public persona. But the author also takes us into Rae's mind, showing her insecurities, her fears, even as Rae crafts portraits of sanity to reassure others. The author creates this strong, sick, flawed, dark character, plunks her down on an island and, step by step, walks her from isolation to membership in a community.

The characters who people Rae's community hold their own, particularly Ed De la Torre, "a resident of Friday Harbor, her nearest proper town." Ed acts as "unofficial mailman, taxi driver, news service, repair consultant, and delivery boy for the handful of island residents willing to pay." These include Jerry Carmichael (the local sheriff and a real Boy Scout) and Nicola Walls (Jerry's ex-sister-in-law, a beautiful Irish nymph who works for the Parks Department). Rae reconnects with her previous life and resurrects a delightful friendship with Vivian Masters, "a sawyer with the name of an English aristocrat, the build of an Olympic weight lifter, the voice of an Australian drover, and the hands of a Dutch diamond cutter."

Rae's story attracted and held me, but King adds other dimensions. She coupled an exquisite portrait of a woman's fight for life with the wrong-doings, murder, hatred, jealousies that plagued her ancestors, molded Rae's life and ultimately passed on to her progeny.

Most books, particularly mysteries, I read once. Once you know who-done-it, the thrill ends. Folly I want to read again and yet again. I want to read King's beautiful writing, and I want to reconnect with Rae, a worthy role model.

Dawn Goldsmith

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