Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Laura Benedict's Isabella Moon ~ Reviewed

Isabella Moon
Laura Benedict
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 25, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345497678
ISBN-13: 978-0345497673


Sometimes the past comes looking for you.

Two years ago, in idyllic Carystown, Kentucky, nine-year-old Isabella Moon disappeared on her way home from school. Is it just coincidence that Kate Russell, a young woman with no discernible past, arrived in town just months before Isabella's disappearance? When Kate walks into Sheriff Bill Delaney's office to tell him that Isabella's ghost has led her to the child's hidden grave, he immediately views her as a suspect. Mystery follows mystery as a local athlete drops dead, inexplicably, on the basketball court, and someone close to Kate is viciously murdered.

Quiet Carystown was to be Kate's salvation, and she's settled into a comfortable job, a charming cottage, and a blissful romance. But having lied to her boyfriend, Caleb, for so long about the terrors of her past life, she finds she can't trust him to understand the terror that Isabella Moon has now brought. And Kate's best friend, Francie, is too wrapped up in her own troubles -- particularly a secret affair with a man she at once loves and despises -- to give Kate the help she needs. Utterly alone, Kate is torn between finding justice for the dead child and keeping away ghosts of her own.

The unsolved disappearance of Isabella Moon has been the biggest disappointment of Sheriff Delaney's career. But he senses that Kate is trouble. As he investigates her impossible claims, he also uncovers a series of unsettling truths about Carystown itself. Behind his hometown's genteel facade is a morass of lies and murder, drugs and destruction. Andy Carystown's residents are about to discover that even though the past is buried, it can rise again -- with a vengeance.

My Review:

I've read and reviewed so many books this year, several of them run together in my mind. Isabella Moon will be one that sticks with me.
I'm going to warn all readers up front since a lot of the titles I review are from Christian publishing houses. Isabella Moon contains language, sex, drugs and supernatural elements that may offend. Use the same care you would when choosing to watch an R-rated movie.
Laura Benedict is a writer who does it all well. A fast-paced twisting plot blends with moments of crystal-clear sensory detail, some grisly, some beautiful and some a varying combination of both. Benedict is a sensual writer, so much so some of her images are burned in the back of my mind, not unlike those scents that pull me into a memory, or evoke strong emotion unexpectedly. One scene, in particular, is a work of art. Benedict uses fragility, poignancy and regret like some artists use oils or clay.
Each character is fleshed out uniquely though they are recognizable characters in small town America. Beyond some moments of voyeuristic embarrassment while reading these characters' lives, the only issue that bothered me was the occasional shift or lapse into omniscient point of view. And that's my issue, many love to know what's going on in more than one character's mind.
I didn't experience moments of terror as I was afraid I might based on the subject matter, instead I mourned, grieved and wanted to warn the characters as their lives intersected and permanently marked each other.
Those who love supernatural thrillers, mysteries and crime dramas will likely find much to like in Isabella Moon.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
Click here for a Scrambled Dregs interview (9-25-07) with Laura.

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