(Reviewed by Glenda Anderson)
As of this writing, my car is oiled and gassed, ready to tear over the Cajon Pass for Route 66 territory so I can help put out the fires of evil, eat some pancakes and possibly meet up with some neat folks who have a propensity for being targets of some weirdo’s who like the killing fields of the wide open Mojave Desert. Especially if they wear cop uniforms.
Funny, but that place in the sun always looked jaw-dropping beautiful and “innocent” to me, whether in the blackest hours after midnight or in bright glaring sunlight. Little would I have imagined what a great place it is for murder.
Counsel of Ravens, a sequel, is a Route 66 mystery where the author weaves a complicated story of ordinary cops and killers going about their business, shattering any preconceived notions that all is quiet and lonely out there. Most think of Rte. 66 as an open-throttle ride in a convertible on the way to “somewhere else”. Certainly not a place to live and work, as do her damaged, lovable characters of whom she takes extraordinary time in developing.
Before you can say “Merde!“, bodies are piling up, winds are howling, ravens are keeping tabs on deeds most vile. In homage to her oft French-touting officers of the peace, “Un Malheur ne vient jamais seul!”
Just as you settle down, getting to know the local cops and CHPs, murders interfere with the landscape, furtive-love eye contacts, shrink analysis, and dogs who are better friends than most of us have in the human types. Then, the author pulls a fast one!
The plot goes from slow simmer to roiling boil, (“fooled you didn’t I?”, Gornell must be smirking) after deftly circling around, hints here and there, leading you down twisting dirt roads, whizzing over the highways, off the exits. Then you hit the brakes! All the while you’ve been reading, thinking where’s this going (why do I need to know so much about these loners?), when all of a sudden, you turn the page. The author all of a sudden pulls out the throttle to wide open, rams the pedal to the floor, and breaks the speed limit in tidying up all the characters and their involvement in property theft and murder.
Like, what did she just reveal? Really?
Author M. M. Gornell truly surprised me (hard to do, what with my devious dark places lurking in my grey matter) with her fondness for French phrases which expresses better than plain-old English, the great plot, terrific resolutions.
Now, I’m waiting for Hollywood to discover just how gangbusters a movie Counsel of Ravens would be.