Monday, September 10, 2012

End of summer and a book review!

Although we have most of September until fall is officially upon us, a lot of my fellow food bloggers have been lamenting the "end of summer" with seasonal recipes that take advantage of our gardens' last hurrah of produce.

Although I always love to see these recipes and this commentary - this year has me scratching my head.  Where the hell did this year go?  Oh wait - I was pregnant for the majority of this year.  While my contemporaries have been plotting out how to use the last of the tomatoes of summer, I've been trying to decode my newborn ... I mean - my one-month-old son.  Where did the past month go?

Anyway - one of the "projects" on my to-do list that got shuffled to the wayside while waiting for my little bean was a review of J.T. Ellison's "A Deeper Darkness." 

Full confession - Ms. Ellison sent me a copy of her book to review ... oh - a few months ago.  And I finished reading the book and writing the review ... a few months ago.  But I'm just getting to publishing my review now.  Sigh.

J.T. Ellison first came on the literary scene in 2007 with "All the Pretty Girls," a novel that introduced the reading world to Lt. Taylor Jackson, a tough cookie of a homicide detective located in Nashville, Tennessee.  As the narrative into Jackson's world increased, readers have been introduced to recurring characters like John Baldwin, Jackson's love interest, and Jackson's childhood friend Dr. Sam Owens, a medical examiner.

In "A Deeper Darkness" (released this April by Mira books, a Harlequin imprint), Dr. Owens takes center stage, a couple of years after a devastating flood decimates her entire world.  To cope with the loss of her family, Sam has buried herself into her work - building a fragile, yet failing, refuge that is shattered when she gets a phone call from the mother of an old flame.  Eddie Donovan, her first love, has been murdered - will Sam perform a secondary autopsy?

The storyline that follows establishes Ellison's prowess as a storyteller who infuses her stories and characters with a mind boggling amount of realism and research.  The questions the reader encounters are plausible: If Eddie Donovan was killed by a car jacker, what were the circumstances leading up to his murder?  How are subsequent murders investigated by DC Homicide Detective Darren Fletcher related? The case uncovered unwittingly by Sam Owens leads her back to the past - a seemingly cut and dried friendly fire incident in Afghanistan that returned Eddie Donovan to the U.S. a changed man.

A reader does not need to be familiar with the world of Taylor Jackson to pick up "A Deeper Darkness."  That is part of Ellison's genius as a writer - Sam Owens emerges as a fully formed character worthy of her own series of books (which Ellison is working on).  "Darkness" is a tautly told thriller that keeps a reader hooked until the final, heartbreaking chapter that holds the key to Sam's guilt regarding the death of her family members.

Although the bloggers say that summer has ended - I say pshaw ... this is a perfect summer read.  And if you're like me and have a one-month-old (and a cat) vying for your attention, this book will hold until the crisp fall nights fall upon us.  And even better?  Ms. Ellison is currently giving away two copies of "Darkness" at her website.  Visit Ms. Ellison's website for details and good luck!