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


MORE RESOURCES:
Polish author Olga Tokarczuk won the £50,000 (about $67,170) Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, for her novel of linked fragments, Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft. The cash award is divided equally between author and translator, who also both receive £1,000 for being shortlisted.

Philip Roth, whose novel American Pastoral won a Pulitzer in 1998 but who was best-known for the controversial and explicit 1969 Portnoy's Complaint, has died at age 85.

Writing in The Washington Post, author and professor Sandra Beasley asks, "Do we continue to teach the work of people we now suspect of behaving unethically or abusively? ... As a reader, I'm devastated. As a teacher, I've got decisions to make..."

The romance-focused magazine Romantic Times, along with the RT Book Reviews, RT VIP Salon and RT Booklovers Convention brands, is shutting down after 37 years. The closure is effective immediately, and though the RT website will remain up for another year or so, there will be no new content in the future.

Philip Pullman has been named author of the year at the British Book Awards for his "outstanding" success.

The children's author was recognized after returning to the world of his Dark Materials with La Belle Sauvage last year. Awards organizers described Pullman as a "true one-off".

Gail Honeyman won book of the year for her best-selling debut Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Judges said it was "brilliantly written" and "the complete package".

Tom Wolfe, author of notable works such as The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, has died aged 88. In addition to his books, he was a pioneer of New Journalism, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s and involved writing from a subjective perspective as opposed to more traditional objective journalism. He was also known for coining phrases such as "radical chic" and "the me decade".

Last week, Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the US, saw its stock price plunge nearly 8% just days after the New York Times published an editorial calling for the chain to be saved. "It's depressing to imagine that more than 600 Barnes & Noble stores might simply disappear," wrote columnist David Leonhardt. "But the death of Barnes & Noble is now plausible."

Author Jojo Moyes has pledged to save the British adult literacy program Quick Reads from closure by funding it for the next three years. She says she was "completely dumbfounded" on learning of the scheme's closure and is believed to have donated around £360,000 (well over US$500,000) to help it continue.

"Having written a Quick Reads myself [Paris for One, in 2015] and spoken to readers who had benefited from the scheme, I knew how important it was," she told The Bookseller. "It is relatively low cost and loved by authors, publishers and readers. At a time when libraries are ever more endangered, it seemed a completely regressive move to lose Quick Reads."

The Pulitzer Prize board has opened an independent review of sexual misconduct allegations against the award-winning novelist Junot Díaz, who is stepping down as chairman, the board said on Thursday.

"Mr. Díaz said he welcomed the review and would cooperate fully with it," the Pulitzer board said in a statement.

Mr. Díaz, who joined the board in 2010, was elevated to chairman last month, according to the organization. It said that Mr. Díaz asked to relinquish his role and that he would remain a part of the body.

Viet Thanh Nguyen argues that books by immigrants, foreigners and minorities don't diminish the 'classic' curriculum. They enhance it....

...We must read Shakespeare and authors who are women, Arab, Muslim, queer. Most of the world is neither white nor European, and the United States may be a majority-minority country by mid-century. White people will gain more by embracing this reality rather than fighting it. As for literature, the mind-set that turns the canon into a bunker in order to defend one dialect of English is the same mind-set that closes borders, enacts tariffs and declares trade wars to protect its precious commodities and its besieged whiteness. But literature, like the economy, withers when it closes itself off from the world. The world is coming anyway. It demands that we know ourselves and the Other...

thatware.org ©