Book Review for The Margaret Ellen, A Karen Cobia Mystery by RC Burdick
I've discovered a new favorite author, and his name is RC Burdick.
The Margaret Ellen is an ocean-drenched mystery, filled with vibrant characters, palpable sea breezes, and spine-tingling suspense. It's a story that lingers in the reader's mind for days, conjuring up images of blustery sky and sea, saltwater-dampened hair, and personalities that spring to life from the rapidly turned pages. Like a great film, it's over far too soon.
Karen "Seaweed" Cobia is in a dilemma. Treading water in unsatisfactory relationships, Seaweed knows something has to change. As the charming, boyish charter boat captain sets out to right the wrongs in her life, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of a juicy murder investigation.
Seaweed and soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, Angus Loman, discover a body bobbing in the surf off Hangman's Key, an island on the west coast of Florida. Eva Park, local well-known philanthropist, is found face down in the surf with her hands and feet bound and a bullet in her forehead. Because Seaweed was raised by her sea-loving father, owner of Cobia's Bait, Tackle, and Charter Service, her resultant marine expertise aids in the murder investigation. The crusty local detective, Myers, begrudgingly accepts her assistance. Nicknamed "Grim Lips," Myers continues to seek out Karen's help as his regard for her skill intensifies.
As the mystery unfolds, a peculiar woman approaches Seaweed for help, embroiling her more deeply in the intrigue. Seaweed tries to balance the life she craves on the ocean with the promise to help the young woman, but instead is catapulted toward a dangerous liaison with the devious culprit who wants her dead.
Mr. Burdick's first mystery is a masterpiece - the sense of place is alive and tantalizing; the scenes are vibrant and tangible. I still taste the salt from the onion rings; feel the condensation on the café tabletop; and sense the rolling of The Margaret Ellen as it moves through the swells. Burdick's knowledge of boats, waterways, fishing, and life on the Florida coast is dazzling, and lends credibility to the work.
The Margaret Ellen is reminiscent of John D MacDonald's Travis Magee series. As much as I love Travis Magee, I must say that I felt closer to Burdick's characters and more securely at the helm of The Margaret Ellen than I did with Magee's houseboat, The Busted Flush. Is that a travesty?
The natural dialogue is brilliantly set to the rustling of sea oats and whistling Austrian pines. The interplay between Seaweed and her father is priceless, emotive, and genuine. Evocative of real life, it brings to mind my own precious relationships with my three daughters. When I finished The Margaret Ellen, I was left with the paradox of deep satisfaction coupled with a strong yearning for more. I cared about these characters, and want to know what happens next. Mr. Burdick has hinted at a sequel and will undoubtedly have a long line of readers anxiously awaiting its release!
Aaron Paul Lazar resides in Upstate New York with his wife, three daughters, two grandsons, mother-in- law, two dogs, and three cats. After writing in the early morning hours, he works as an electrophotographic engineer at NexPress Solutions Inc., part of Kodak's Graphic Communications Group, in Rochester, New York. Additional passions include vegetable, fruit, and flower gardening; preparing large family feasts; photographing his family, gardens, and the breathtakingly beautiful Genesee Valley; cross-country skiing across the rolling hills; playing a distinctly amateur level of piano, and spending "time" with the French Impressionists whenever possible.
Although he adored raising his three delightful daughters, Mr. Lazar finds grandfathering his "two little buddies" to be one of the finest experiences of his life. Double Forte', the first in the series, was published in January 2005. Upstaged, number two, is in production. With eight books under his belt, Mr. Lazar is currently working on the ninth, which features Gus LeGarde and his family. www.legardemysteries.com">http://www.legardemysteries.com
Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, who joined an upstart NPR in 1978 and left an indelible imprint on the growing network with her coverage of Washington politics before later going to ABC News, has died. She was 75.
Roberts died Tuesday because of complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.
A bestselling author and Emmy Award winner, Roberts was one of NPR's most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists — along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg — who helped shape the public broadcaster's sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.
Indie press Galley Beggar has warned of the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on publishing after learning of "crazy" government requirements on distribution and warned it could put smaller publishers out of business.
The Norwich-based independent, which recently scored a Booker Prize nomination with Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport, fears smaller publishers could be put out of business over legal uncertainty around Brexit.
Galley Beggar founder Sam Jordison outlined concerns around UK government and Publishers' Association guidance, and in particular government guidance suggesting that publishers will need to state country of origin or International Organization of Standardization (ISO) codes for their inventory. The government published its Yellowhammer contingency plan which details "worst case" scenarios for a no-deal Brexit last week. The document warned of channel crossing delays and disrupted trade across the Irish border...
... "We're terrified, we are genuinely terrified. There's all kinds of other reasons to object to Brexit but from a practical point of view it's going to completely screw us. The main concern is that this is potentially going to put people out of business. Not even potentially, it is going to put people out of business. Our margins are small so rising costs are already a nightmare – that's only going to get worse. Paper, transport are going to go up – even with a deal that stuff is problematic." ...
Elena Ferrante, the Italian author whose Neapolitan novels became a global phenomenon, is to publish a new book in Italy on 7 November – her first novel in four years.
Bestselling author Jojo Moyes has called on the government and the publishing industry to do more about the UK's "shameful" adult literacy record. In 2018, Moyes, writer of global hits including Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, donated three years of funding to charity the Reading Agency for its Quick Reads scheme, saving it from closure when its previous sponsorship ran out.
While she was "proud to be able to help out as a private individual", she is furious at what she calls governmental and industry failure to understand the importance of Quick Reads.
Dorothea Benton Frank, author of 20 novels set in the Charleston area and a beloved figure who for years split her time between Sullivan's Island and the New York City area, died Monday evening after a brief illness. She was 67.
Amazon has broken the worldwide embargo on Margaret Atwood's The Testaments (Nan A. Talese), which isn't supposed to go on sale until next Tuesday, September 10, inadvertently shipping about 800 copies to customers. This has infuriated indies, led to early reviews of the book around the world--revealing basic elements, and caused exclusive excerpts to be published earlier than planned. Altogether, the embargo violation stained the release of one of the biggest books of the fall season, Atwood's long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.
In response to the situation, publisher Penguin Random House issued this statement: "A very small number of copies of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments were distributed early due to a retailer error which has now been rectified.... Not naming Amazon and attributing the problem to "a retailer error" irritated many indie booksellers for a number of reasons: some pointed out that if their stores had sold copies of the book early, it would be considered an embargo violation and likely lead to punishments, such as not receiving embargoed books ahead of publication date in the future. Many speculated PRH will not do anything of the sort with Amazon.
In a series of tweets, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., succinctly outlined the problem:
"It should come as no surprise that a certain huge online retailer is selling this book very close to our cost; if we sold it at their price we'd make $1.73 per copy. We've discussed before how this is unfair, and how we deal with it.
But now, not only is the huge online retailer selling it for a price we can't compete with, but they shipped out copies a week early. This increases the likelihood that someone who got it early uploads a bootleg copy online, cutting into sales for everyone.
It also gave de facto permission to places like the New York Times and NPR to publish spoiler-heavy reviews, which deflates the mysterious buzz about what's in the book. It's likely that less mystery means less vital first-week sales for everyone. I hope we're wrong."
Chanel Miller was known by the pseudonym Emily Doe at the trial of Stanford student Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in county jail for the assault. The sentence caused widespread anger given that Turner could have been jailed for up to 14 years for the crime. Many believed Turner had been given a lenient sentence because he was a white athlete from a prominent university, Stanford. Turner repeatedly claimed alcohol was to blame and that the encounter was consensual, while his father called the attack "20 minutes of action".
Miller is now releasing a memoir, Know My Name, which her publisher says will "change the way we think about sexual assault forever". Miller's 7,000-word statement at the trial garnered millions of views around the world when it was published online in 2016. She will also appear on CBS's 60 Minutes later this month and extracts from the interview, including Miller reading the statement, have been released this week.
Hundreds of readers in the US have received early copies of Margaret Atwood's heavily embargoed follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, after copies were shipped out early by Amazon.
Security around the novel had been as tight as anything mounted for JK Rowling or Dan Brown's blockbuster releases – the judges for the Booker prize, who shortlisted The Testaments for the award on Wednesday, were warned they would be held liable if their watermarked copies leaked. But since Tuesday, readers have been posting images on Twitter of their freshly delivered copies, a week before the novel's official release on 10 September.
And The Guardian have just published an (officially approved) excerpt--see link below:
The shortlist for The Booker Prize, the U.K.'s top prize for fiction, has been announced. The list includes two former winners, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie--even though Atwood's book doesn't publish until next week:
Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Lucy Ellmann (U.S./U.K.), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
Bernardine Evaristo (U.K.), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
Salman Rushdie (U.K./India) Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
Elif Shafak (U.K./Turkey) 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
Reese Witherspoon has named Lara Prescott's debut novel The Secrets We Kept as her September book club choice. This thrilling historical fiction, which publishes on September 3, is inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago. The Secrets We Kept is also a great hit with the 20 BookBrowse members who reviewed it for our First Impressions program--rating it a stellar 4.7 stars!