Point No Point, Mary Logue, Bleak House, Cloth $24.95; Paper, $14.95. (December release).
"He couldn't tell what kind of bird it was, but it flew toward him—its dark wings pulling through the air like delicate knives..."
I'm a big Mary Logue fan, and this novel is a perfect illustration of the reason why. As I was reading it, I kept checking the number of pages left to read—they kept getting smaller and smaller far too quickly! Try as I might have to make this reading experience last, I couldn't help myself, I had to inhale the new story about Pepin County, Wisconsin's favorite Deputy Sheriff, Claire Watkins. One of the reasons I enjoy Logue's books so much is Claire—she's a wonderfully complex character who seems to be able to grow and mature in a believable way in each book. Another reason is Logue's ability to craft a story that seems simple but really isn't. The one in this book is a perfect example. Often her stories are tied together by a thematic thread, and that's the case in this well tuned novel.
The book begins with the discovery of a body in the water on the day of Claire's daughter, Meg's, 16th birthday. Claire is late to the birthday party as she takes charge of a drowning that looks like it could be something more. Her family is used to her lateness but there's a strain at the family table; it's slight, but apparent, and the fissures become much larger cracks as the story progresses. Then the next thing happens: Rich, Claire's partner, gets a call from his best friend who just tells him to come over. When Rich gets to his friend Chet's house, he find's Chet's wife dead, and Chet lying on the bed next to her, crying inconsolably. He of course calls Claire immediately; but the cracks begin to appear as Claire goes into "cop" mode where Rich feels she should stay in "friend" mode instead. Chet's case takes precedence over the drowning man, which Claire hands off to another officer, and Claire begins to untangle the unknown life of Chet. It drives a real wedge into her relationship with Rich.
As each story thread becomes ultimately connected, there's also the thread of Meg's awakening desire for her boyfriend. The book is more or less a thoughtful treatise on the idea of love vs. sex, and which is the more important. Elizabeth George, a far better known writer than Logue, recently wrote a book called Careless in Red which tackled much the same subject, in far more pages and in a far less entertaining way. Also, when I finished George's book, I felt like life and humans were a bit tawdry. I had no such feeling when I finished Logue's book—I mainly had a desire to read another one. And since Logue is also a poet, she chooses her words with a kind of care and conciseness that's much appreciated. This is another bravura effort from a much underrated writer.
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