Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Knowing, by Laurel Dewey

The Story Plant, ISBN 9781611880496, December 2012

The only other Jane Perry story that I've read was a novella that was a pretty straight-forward police procedural. This is a little different.

Jane Perry is a Denver homicide detective, who has had great professional success but a very rough personal life. She's recently met a man she's really connected with for the first time, and has kicked the alcohol and cigarettes that have had too much control of her life.

And she's discovered she has an older half sister, born and given up before her mother made the mistake of marrying Jane's father.

Knowing starts with Jane leaving on a road trip to go meet her half sister in New Mexico, where she's currently living in halfway house.

It's not long before her plans have been completely blown up. Her car gets stolen when she stops for gas at a Quik-Mart. When she gets on a bus to continue her trip, she meets a young prostitute who has a very alarming story about what really happened in the case, currently much in the news, of another prostitute who was murdered and the apparent killer found still in bed with the dead body.

Then she gets off the bus briefly, and it blows up, killing everyone aboard. And her day has only just begun to get weird, alarming, and generally bad.

There are elements of horror here, and of Secret History, as well as just plain edge of your seat suspense. There's the escaped killer who isn't really the killer, and the mysterious red-haired men who turn up in entirely too many places, and a series of numbered postcards with their own mysterious message to share.

Meanwhile, Jane is struggling with her own inability to trust and rely on anyone else, her inability to believe in the love she and Hank have for each other. This isn't just a side issue; it turns out to be critical to her ability to make the right choices in the high-stakes conflict with "the gingers," mysterious men in black who control key levers of power nearly everywhere.

It's a fascinating, engrossing story that demands your involvement while reading it.


DISCLAIMER: What follows is a personal pet peeve.

A relatively minor point: Nanette tells Jane that Gabe liked beer made with pine needles instead of hops, and tells her a fairy tale about pine needle beer having been common until the Middle Ages, when the Church suppressed it. Supposedly, men who drank pine needle beer were too energized and independent, while men who drank hops beer were more submissive and manipulable. This sounded odd to me, so I did a bit of research. Pine needle beer was a Scandinavian creation. It also became popular in Scotland, and remained so until the end of the 19th century. William Bros. brews Alba Scots Pine Ale, and Wigram Brewing Company's Spruce Beer is based on an original brewed by Captain Cook, apparently in an effort to combat scurvy among his crew. None of this is consistent with Nanette's version. It's not all that important, but I get annoyed at the lazy negative stereotyping of Christianity as having crushed Virtuous Paganism.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.