Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big brag

I love, love, love was Jim Patrick posted on my Facebook invitation paqe:

"Give yourself a treat and read Alec's new novel. Don't let the long (and I mean long) list of characters at the beginning of this fun, intriguing and surprising tale of a small town scare you off. It is one of the best reads I have enjoyed this year. And see some of these characters come to life on January 13th. Guaranteed fun!"
Full disclosure: Jim is one of the four actors who will be reading from Reunion at the Wetside that night. (It's a 6 p.m. at Orca Books in Olympia.) Jim also posted a nice review on amazon.

And speaking of amazon, I also love, love, love what Jack Butler wrote in his review:

"The Wetside" is what Washington-states call the part of the state west of the Cascades. It's also the name of a fictional town and the iconic bar of that town in Alec Clayton's new mystery novel, "Reunion at the Wetside." There's a series of killings which the two main protagonists gradually realize are the work of a serial murderer. Sixtyish Alex Martin meets again and falls in love with her sixtyish long-lost school chum (and sometimes antagonist) Jim Bright, the former holder of the state record for the mile. She would be considered left of center, and he's a (libertarian) Republican.

But before you start making assumptions, you should know that there has been a regular drag queen show at The Wetside bar ever since the sixties, one of the bar's most popular features, and that the serial killing victims have all been female impersonators who have appeared in the show, and that Republican Jim Bright was one of the stars of that show when he was young, still legendary after all these years.

And that he may be the intended next victim.

This is a more complex and more satisfying account of humans involved in a murder mystery than you may be accustomed to. The story turns out to be a history of the town. The neighbors, the kids that Alex and Jim played among, the crazy affairs, the man with two wives, the cops--it all percolates and simmers. There are reveals you never see coming, but it's fair to say you will applaud the unveiling of the culprit, and you will not be surprised but the ending won't be anti-climactic.

That's because this is a mystery with a difference. These are real people with real lives, not the cardboard cliches of most mystery fiction. No stereotypes allowed. Jim may have been a highly successful drag queen, but he's all male. And so it goes.

In retrospect, the murders pretty obviously grow out of the vindictiveness of some, the confusion of others, the mistaken assumptions of the times, and more. That's where the satisfaction of the book comes from. It isn't the satisfaction of the loud click of an empty mechanism. It's the double satisfaction of reading a full-blooded mystery and a true account of human nature at the same time.

Highly recommended.

Reunion at the Wetside

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