The Bookworm: Matters of life and death
“A Healing Justice”
- By Kristin Von Kreisler
- c. 2018, Kensington Books
- $15.95, $17.95 Canada; 256 pages
Your pup is a respectable watch dog. If anyone merely considers walking by your house, it doesn’t go unnoticed. And if someone dares knock on your door, well, the ensuing noise pains your ears. Yes, your doggo is protector of hearth and home and, in the new book “A Healing Justice” by Kristin Von Kreisler, he may be protector of the heart.
It happened so fast that Andrea Brady barely had time to think.
There she was, just home after an overtime shift with the San Julian, Washington, Police Department and ready for some sofa-time with her K9 partner and best bud, Justice, when Justice ran into the woods behind their house. One minute, he was snarling, then he’d been stabbed and was shrieking in pain and a man with a knife was racing toward Andie, who had seconds to react. Pulling her weapon, she shot the man dead, but the “man” was a mere boy – Christopher, a teenager who lived just down the lane.
Tom Wolski probably should’ve excused himself.
He knew that, the minute he was asked to run the investigation into the Brady case. He also knew that doing so would be a great way for him to set himself apart within the Nisqually County Sheriff’s Department. Determining what happened would show Top Brass that Tom was ready for bigger things and better money.
The problem was that, ever since a disastrous blind date that never actually happened, Tom didn’t think much of Officer Andrea Brady.
He didn’t think much of the dead boy’s parents, either. According to them, Christopher was a good kid who never gave them a minutes’ trouble. Maybe, they insinuated, Andrea seduced their son and shot him in a lovers’ quarrel. Tom strongly doubted all that, but clues to why Andrea shot Christopher weren’t adding up.
In the meantime, Andrea struggled: nightmares colored her sleep and flashbacks lit her days. Her dog was on the mend, but she was not. How could she even think of doing her job anymore? How could she rid herself of the cloud of guilt she felt?
Ripped from the headlines and twisted into a bit of romantic mystery with a dog, “A Healing Justice” is a delightful novel, the kind that you can share with pretty much anyone who loves a tale on the lighter side.
Indeed, the action in this book is tame enough for anyone who hates needless violence, and it doesn’t linger in blood and guts. The character cast is short and sweet. The language isn’t even offensive; though there are a tiny handful of rough words, they fit, and aren’t gratuitously placed. Reading this book, if you will, is like wearing your favorite sweatshirt at the end of the summer: comfortable, warm, pleasantly familiar, and not at all complicated. Best of all: a dog.
For lovers of novels with a heart-pound or two, romance fans, and those who read about pooches, “A Healing Justice” should be on your bookshelf.
It’s a book you’ll love. Just watch.
- By Marie Miranda Cruz
- c. 2018, Starscape
- $16.99, $22.50 Canada; 288 pages
A kid’s got to do what a kid’s got to do. If it’s your responsibility – real or perceived – you need to make things happen. You must take charge because doing so is an excellent sign of a good person and a good sign that you’re growing up. Or, as in the new book “Everlasting Nora” by Marie Miranda Cruz, it’s a matter of life or death.
Aside from her Papa, a soft bed was the thing Nora missed the most.
But when you live in a mausoleum – a tiny house that protects a grave – there is no room for a bed or a kitchen or much at all. At least she and Mama had a dry home and food once or twice a day. For that, Nora was grateful.
Last year, before the fire and Papa’s death, before losing all their money to Lola Fely, before fleeing to the cemetery, Nora had a bed, toys, and she even went to school. She really missed school, too; kids in the cemetery were sometimes taught by a kind man who came with a wagon of books and lessons, but it wasn’t the same.
Nora dreamed of having her old life back. Meanwhile, she helped Mama wash laundry for women in the city, she sold dried flower garlands for small money, and she kept busy helping others around the cemetery. Many people lived there, people who couldn’t afford to live anywhere else, and that included Nora’s best friend, Jojo.
When she and Mama first moved to the cemetery, Nora didn’t like Jojo much. He was too opinionated, but she eventually saw his kindness when he helped her navigate life with almost nothing.
His friendship was one of the good things Nora held tightly when bad things happened, like when Mama used her laundry wages to play mah jongg, a gambling game that she apparently wasn’t very good at. Gambling, as Nora knew, wasn’t being smart with money. And when her mother disappeared one evening and didn’t return, Nora learned that, with the wrong partners, gambling could also be dangerous…
Were it not for a slightly simpler plot and children at its core, “Everlasting Nora” could have easily been a novel for adults.
That’s a warning – and a recommendation.
On the latter, author Marie Miranda Cruz offers readers a tale of warmth and friendship that quietly conceals a thriller that will leave you breathless, even though you know (spoiler alert!) things will turn out just fine. They’re the kinds of plotlines that make even nail-biting grown-ups tempted to skim and skip ahead because they are just that exciting – and therein lies the warning. Early parts of this story are sweet and excellently told but that beginning is absolutely driven by a thread that can become intense – maybe sometimes too intense for its intended audience.
That audience is ages 9-to-12 but maybe not every child in that range. Sensitive kids, no, but if yours can handle a heart-pounder, then she’ll love “Everlasting Nora.”
Reading it might be what that kid’s got to do.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.