Novels feature unique twists

Elizabeth Cran
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Two books are well worth reading

These two novels do not follow the standard pattern of man meets girl, man-loses-girl, man-and-girl-com-together-for-good.

Lesley Crewe’s latest book, Chloe Sparrow (Vagrant Press, Nimbus, $19.95), comes close to the pattern, but with important differences.

Glen Carter’s book “Last Witness” (Breakwater, $21.95) lies nowhere near it.

Each is quite memorable, though maybe not top-of-the line, and are well worth reading at least once.

 Chloe Sparrow (this book was reviewed from an advance reading copy as the actual book will be published in August) is something of a departure from Crewe’s earlier novels. It’s more fantastic, more like a fairy tale, more satirical, especially in the first half. Chloe herself is more naive and even bewildered — not to mention accident-prone — than earliest heroines.

 In the first part of this book, Chloe’s told she’s to be the producer of a new reality show on CBC, where she works. It’s to be called The Single Guy. Briefly, it’s about a handsome young man besieged by 20 girls. Each episode takes place in a different venue, and in each one he dismisses one of the girls.

The man who gets the job is Chloe’s vet; she’s already half in love with him. The show puts her under so much strain, her doctor tells her to quit it.

 What follows is an all-too-realistic description of her severe depression no-one who has this condition should read this book), however all ends well, and Chloe marries Austin Hawke, the man of her dreams.

 Last Witness is a very different matter. It seems to have two themes.

One is the search for a hitherto unknown film taken at the time of President Kennedy’s murder by an unknown person. The other is the successful attempt to keep history from repeating itself when the Cuban and American presidents meet to discuss and sign an agreement to hold democratic elections in Cuba as a first step towards a rapprochement between the two countries.

 The cast of characters is large, and the chapters are short. The reader can easily be confused by both and not understand how each episode fits into the whole. Although the story is gripping, the total picture’s basis is hard to discern.

If the reader concentrates on each small event he or she will enjoy the novel. If not, it will simply be frustrating. The same can be said for most of the characters, though Jack Doyle and Ed Malloy, the principal ones, come part-way to life.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at her new address: 95 Orange St., Apt. 101, Saint John N.B., E2L 1M5, or call her at 506-693-5498.

Organizations: Vagrant Press, CBC, The Guardian

Geographic location: Cuba, Saint John

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