Monday, August 11, 2008

Crumbling hotels, overgrown gardens and circus folk

My new column is up at Bookslut and I have to point out Tony Abbott's wonderful mystery, The Postcard. Here's a bit of my review:

The mystery plot starts to reveal itself when Jason discovers an old linen postcard of a Florida scene. It is clearly something his grandmother treasured but why this one thing would be a sentimental choice he has no idea. The postcard is on his mind when he finds something else odd, a 1944 issue of Bizarre Mysteries, an old pulp thriller. Soon enough Jason learns that one of the stories in the magazine could be about his grandmother and from that realization he begins following a modern trail of postcard clues that reveals his family’s history.

The last thing I want to suggest is that The Postcard is a musty dive through genealogy records because nothing could be further from the truth. Jason and his neighbor Dia find themselves tracking clues from an abandoned hotel to a St Pete tourist attraction -- the center of one of the biggest circus dynasties of all time. While some of those involved in the mystery of his grandmother would like the past to fade away there are others who are eager to see the truth revealed. In the middle of the all the detecting (which reminded me so much of a classic Three Investigators mystery in all the right ways) Jason still has to deal with his father and the collapse of his parent’s marriage. This seems to make his grandmother’s story that much more important and spurs him on as things get weirder.

The Postcard is a book I have not heard nearly enough about. It is a classic mystery but has a decidedly modern style. I also give Abbott a lot of credit for getting Florida so right; I know my Sunshine State and clearly so does this author.

I have not seen any other reviews in the blogosphere on this book and it is fantastic. All sorts of weirdness and pop culture fun and bizarre family history and a good coming-of-age plot thrown in as well. I loved it and I think everyone else will too.

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