April 22, 2004

Folly, by Laurie R. King

I don't think I would class this book as a mystery, per se. Or, to be more specific, it does not follow the normal patterns and conventions of the genre. It isn't exactly a thriller either, though my experience with that genre is limited at best. I'd call it suspense. Hitchcock could have done wonderful things with this book.

The story revolves around Rae Newborn who moves to an island off the coast of Washington that she has inherited from her father. The island is not inhabited having been turned into wildlife sanctuary of some sort years before, but near its only navigable beach is the ruin of a log cabin flanked by stone towers originally built in the 20's or 30's by her great-uncle. Rae is a world famous woodworker/artist who also happens to suffer from severe chronic depression and suicidal ideation. She comes to the island to try to recover something of her life after losing her beloved husband and young daughter in a car accident, sparking off yet another breakdown and long path back up from the pit. She has also suffered an attempted rape while still on the mainland, leaving her shaken and paranoid and only that much more depressed. She also comes to the island to rebuild the house. The work, the fresh air and mostly the solitude are her prescription for therapy over drugs and doctor's offices. And she's doing well beating back her paranoia and fears when she finds a footprint near the spring she is piping her water from.

The book really showcases King's own interest in building and woodworking. You can tell this woman has actually worked with tools and wood and building plans before. It adds to the verisimilitude of the book. It also brings up the mysterious element in the novel since Rae's great-uncle vanished years before with no further contact with the family and the house was burned to the ground just after he left it. Rae uncovers clues about him while salvaging the wreckage. And she begins to feel the presence of someone else on the island. Ghostly, almost. Is it her paranoia or is it real? There is the footprint, but she could have left it herself without knowing. Honestly, until the end, I couldn’t figure out which. I didn't see the ending coming at all.

It's an interesting read. Very different from the humorous mysteries she normally writes. Actually, though, I found myself thinking about it, almost hoping she would write a sequel so I can find out what happens to the house and to Rae and the island.

Posted by Deb English at April 22, 2004 05:07 PM