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Book Review – The Fourth Season by Dorothy Johnston

Posted by mcm0704 on June 29, 2014 |

The Fourth Season
Dorothy Johnston
File Size: 759 KB
Print Length: 229 pages
Publisher: Wakefield Press (November 20, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00GTDEYD6

This is a beautifully written mystery with a strong literary feel to the style. There were many places where I highlighted the text so I could go back and savor the use of words to paint a picture. It is such a joy to discover those well-crafted sections of a novel:

 I could see that the woman had made an effort, put on a certain kind of armour, but her lipstick was smudged and some had transferred itself to her teeth. Her eyes looked like two muddy puddles that some small child or dog had run through, making shapeless footprints. Though Laila’s mother had painted her face bravely, now she didn’t care if two strange women, who might, for all she knew, have been close to her daughter, saw the ruin.

Laila’s murder is one of two that may be tied together, and this is what private investigator Sandra Mahoney gets pulled into, even though it might be better for her to leave it all alone. Her partner, Ivan, is one of the suspects and his odd behavior does nothing to ease the interest by the police.

Sandra and Ivan are partners at home, too, and he is the father of her second child, though they have never married. Their relationship is anything but normal to begin with, and it is complicated further by the fact that Ivan knew Laila and was probably in love with her.

I loved many things about the book. The descriptions put the reader right into the setting. The characters are diverse and well-presented. I dare anyone not to relate to Sandra on some level, and her 16-year-old son, Peter, was one of the best teen characters in an adult book that I have read in a long time. The narrative was never tedious, even though it does not have that quick, sharp pace that many commercial mysteries do, and the dialogue was smooth and real.

That said, I must agree with one reviewer on Amazon who stated that there was not enough information in the earliest part of the story about Sandra or her profession. I didn’t realize she was a private detective until well into the story, and that bothered me. Of course, if one reads the book blurb, that information is there, but what if the reader doesn’t bother with all that front material and goes right to the first chapter? Many readers have told me they don’t even read a prologue, let alone all the introductory information about a book.

Still, that is not enough of a problem for me to hold back on a recommendation to read the book. In fact, I highly recommend it. The mystery is quite a tangled web that Sandra slowly figures out, while dealing with the challenges of a personal relationship so fragile it teeters on the breaking point.

This is the fourth book in the Sandra Mahoney Series, which started with The Trojan Dog, The White Tower and Eden.  The author will be my Wednesday’s Guest this week, so do try to come back to meet her and find out some of the interesting research she did for Eden.
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Dorothy Johnston is an award-winning Australian author of literary and crime novels, as well as short stories. She is known for her interest in the subject of prostitution. Her first novel, Tunnel Vision is set in a Melbourne massage parlour and she has returned to the subject in recent years, notably in her novels, The House at Number 10 and Eden – the third book in her Sandra Mahoney mystery series – and in her short story collection, ‘Eight Pieces On Prostitution’. She lived in Canberra, Australia’s national capital for thirty years, and she has written widely about that experience as well.
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Before I close for today, I do need to wish my twins a Happy Birthday. Wasn’t it just a year or so ago that you were born? LOL

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