Friday, February 20, 2009

Shadow Behind the Curtain by Velda Johnston

Deborah Channing (nee Hartley) has lived a fairly extravagant existence. The best schools, the best houses, the best fiance, the best parents, etc. Until her stepfather dies and she discoveries a shocking secret about her real father, Joseph Hartley. To add to Deborah's burden, she finds out her stepfather's business (restaurants) has been losing money, her mother dies, and her wonderful fiance (Greg) is afraid of family scandal and so they decide to cool off their relationship until Deborah can come to terms with her father's conviction or clear him -- whichever comes first. She decides to go to the little podunk town of Prosperity, which ironically, doesn't live up to its name. Once there, Deborah meets support and resistance. Many people feel her father was unjustly convicted and believe a nice, family guy like Joe couldn't do it, even Deborah's mother held on to Joe's innocence all those years. The only one who seems interested in hindering her investigation is the local acting sheriff, Ben Jr., who's father, Ben Sr. arrested Joe all those years ago, though even the sheriff believes Joe's innocent. So, after twenty years, Deborah Channing manages to do what no one else in Prosperity could do, prove her father's innocent by finding the real killer.

The descriptions were pretty good. I did spend my formative years in Albuquerque, NM (1 - 7) so many, many, many, many, many years ago (I'm not telling) and so my memory of the place is sketchy at best. I don't really remember the climate, the flora and fauna, nor the people. I do remember sopapillas (I know I was upset when we went to a Mexican restaurant and they failed to appear on the menu), I remember we occasionally got snow (another sad point during the first year in south Texas), and I remember we lived on a farm (although there's debate on whether it was a "farm" or not by my aunt and mother, however, we did have a pig and cow which my mom didn't like me watching the pig). Yet, I digress.

I felt the author wrote quite well; excellent grammar, nice descriptions, good setting and mood, good character development, and a good twist for the mystery element. I had an idea of who did it, but the reason baffled me because it didn't make sense. I felt the author did a good job of tying up that loose end. I understood the killer's reasoning, though how viable it would be in real life is another point. But that's the beauty of fiction; there are points where we can close our eyes and cross the suspension bridge of disbelief (I feel I should trademark this phrase). While I liked that the story had the elements I like (mystery and a hint of romance), I found it lacking something. I can't figure out what it lacks, though. I hope one day I will and this will be more than a quick, forgettable mystery romp. I felt it was a yardstick away from my favorite author, Mary Stewart, though I don't know why...

3 comments:

Amanda said...

This one sounds a lot more complicated than some of the other ones you've posted about. Maybe deeper, if that makes sense. You'll have to let us know if you figure out what it's lacking.

hamilcar barca said...

do you remember the balloon festivals at Albuquerque? hundreds of hot-air balloons all taking off at the same time. spectacular!

Christina said...

Sadly, no, I don't remember the balloon festivals, I doubt we ever went to see them. Oh, well...