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Crescent Blues Book ViewsOnlywomen Press (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0-906500-54-0

I love a good mystery/crime story that engages my curiosity and takes my mind, for a few hours, away from the routines of my real life. Tash Fairbanks's Fearful Symmetry, set in England's historic seaside town of Brighton, did just that.

Book: tash fairbanks, fearful symmetry

Fairbanks introduces a dozen or two characters into the first few chapters of her novel, and this might initially bewilder the inattentive reader -- it did me. But persevere, and you will reap the reward of watching her expertly weave these characters into strands of narrative that ultimately flesh them out into satisfyingly well-rounded people. With this rich palette of characters, Tash Fairbanks knots up an intriguing mystery that weighs both sides of many flammable human rights issues. It also leads the reader toward the solving of the crime(s). More I will not disclose here on the grounds it might spoil your enjoyment of the book.

I found it particularly interesting that although the novel first debuted in 1996 it deals with issues still hotly debated even now, almost a decade later. It examines questions about a number of ethical dilemmas that arise from advances in the sciences of genetic engineering, artificial insemination and termination of pregnancy. It explores the influences on, and the places in society of homophobia and religious fundamentalism. And it looks at the place (or lack thereof) assigned by the mainstream to those minority and relatively powerless groups of people who find themselves labeled as "other." People relegated to the margins and given no voice, people like the single mothers, the physically disabled, homosexuals, people of other races a list too long.

An absorbing and well-constructed mystery novel packed with interesting characters and with the added bonus of a thought-provoking back-story. I recommend reading Fearful Symmetry during a holiday break for the best chance of enjoying a long and uninterrupted read.

Moira Richards

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