Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Sunday Salon

I managed to get sick this week - blech. Not fever sick, or throwing-up sick, just a really, really nasty cold that won't go away. It seems to be draining the life force right out of me, so I don't have anything terribly new or interesting to say today - I'm hoping to just stay home on the couch and be a vegetable most of the day. We'll see how that goes....

To try and make this a LITTLE bit more interesting, here's a review of a great book I read awhile ago for

The Hidden Man by Anthony Flacco

Detective Randall Blackburn does not like his new assignment. After 19 years on the San Francisco police force, the homicide detective has been given a job babysitting. It is nine years after the great San Francisco earthquake, and the city is starting to renew itself. The Panama Canal has just been completed, and the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition is about to draw multitudes of tourists into the rebuilt San Francisco. The famed mesmerist J.D. Duncan has been engaged as the premiere attraction, and Blackburn, along with his adopted son, Shane Nightingale, finds himself assigned as a bodyguard to the increasingly paranoid stage performer.

J.D. Duncan is known the world over as a master hypnotist. When he takes to the stage, his command of the crowd is complete. The only thing Duncan is unable to control is his own mind – he is caught in the ravages of Alzheimer’s, a disease newly identified, which robs him of his ability to remember much of his life. He combats his symptoms with an elixir that offers him flashes of clarity in between moments of mania. When strange coincidences start to increase, he becomes convinced that someone is trying to kill him, but he can’t afford to show too many of his secrets to Detective Blackburn.

As Blackburn and Nightingale attempt to guard the performer against his unknown assailant, Blackburn’s adopted daughter, Vignette, has a mystery of her own to solve. Betrayed in her attempt to attend police officer’s training in disguise, Vignette cannot help but believe Blackburn’s fiancĂ©, Janine Freshell, is not at all what she seems. As Vignette probes underneath the woman’s perfect exterior, she uncovers a devastating secret. As the connections between Miss Freshell and J.D. Duncan begin to become clear, the lives of everyone involved depend on whether or not Blackburn and Nightingale can piece the clues together in time.

Former screenwriter Anthony Flacco is a gifted author and storyteller. His descriptions of event and place allow the reader to see perfectly the action as it unfolds. In fact, for some readers, his descriptions might be too good, as some of his death sequences are several pages long, and extremely graphic. The action of the novel unfolds gradually, building suspense in each chapter, so the reader is eager to turn each page to see what will happen next.

The Hidden Man is Flacco’s second novel featuring Randall Blackburn and Shane and Vignette Nightingale – it’s predecessor, The Last Nightingale, took place nine years before the events of The Hidden Man, when Shane and Vignette were still children. Readers familiar with the preceding novel will be captivated to see how the characters have grown, but The Hidden Man is fully readable as a stand-alone novel.

Flacco’s depiction of the unusual blended family is brilliant. Each of his main characters is amazingly complex, and it would be nearly impossible to choose one as a favorite. His secondary characters are equally interesting, and he spends time giving each emotions and motivations that bring them fully to life. Within the confines of a mystery, Flacco is also able to explore themes such as a woman’s place within society and what makes a family truly a family, adding depth and richness to an already well-told story.

The Hidden Man is an excellent novel which should enjoy a wide readership. I highly recommend it to fans of mystery and suspense, as well as historical fiction and family dramas. I sincerely hope Flacco has plans to continue this series, because I can hardly wait to read the next adventures of Randall, Shane and Vignette.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Elizabeth Schulenberg, 2008

Rating: 8/10


debnance said...

I am sick, too. Sounds like the same cold. Please don't tell me colds can be transmitted over blogs.

Andi said...

I hope you're feeling better soon! I've been downing muli-vitamins, vitamin C, taking Alka Seltzer Cold and everything else I can think of to stave off a full-on sinus infection. This time of year is horrible for colds, and I hope yours goes awayyy!

Lana said...

I hope you feel better soon, too! Hopefully a little bit of rest will help. And maybe some light-hearted books to read?

Bookish Ruth said...

Hope you're feeling better soon. I woke up with the beginnings of what I hope are just allergies, and not the super nasty cold I always seem to get at this time of year.

On the plus side, at least whenever I'm sick I don't feel guilty for staying on the couch all day with a book!

I'll have to check out The Hidden Man. It sounds like a really unique read.

Vodka Mom said...

That sounds like something I would really enjoy! Thanks!!

Violet said...

I was sick too. Severe cold and all. And the really very high A.C at work does not help much. I get really sad when reading anything that involves Alzheimer’s. This sounds good. Hope you are feeling well.

bermudaonion said...

I hope you feel better soon!