Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Right Side by Spencer Quinn

The Right Side
by Spencer Quinn

I was looking forward to this new novel in a brand-new series by Spencer Quinn, author of the Chet & Bernie mysteries, mainly because Quinn writes some of the best narrative voices out there. But, if I was expecting the somewhat light-hearted, whimsical tone of those Chet & Bernie mysteries, I was in for an incredible surprise. But it’s a good surprise! LeAnne Hogan is the central character (and voice) of this new novel. She is a wounded warrior — a soldier recovering from injuries received in Afghanistan, where she lost her right eye and the right side of her face became badly scarred. In addition to having difficulties adjusting to her new physical reality, she is also suffering from PTSD, with some memory loss and her personality disrupted — most of her inhibitions wiped out. Forming an intense bond with her female roommate at the stateside hospital where she is recovering, LeAnne reacts badly when that roommate dies unexpectedly — she leaves the facility and heads out on her own, without meds and without completing her psychological recovery.

After some wandering, ultimately, she ends up in the hometown of her deceased friend, where she discovers that her late friend’s elementary-school-aged daughter has disappeared. Facing suicidal impulses of her own, and needing a cause to focus on, LeAnne fixates on finding the missing girl, despite hostility from the locals. Supporting her is another female loner — a mysterious but tough black dog that for some reason has adopted LeAnne, despite LeAnne’s protestations.

LeAnne’s journey, as she deals with current tensions and relives the incidents that lead to her injuries, is fascinating to follow, and although she has a sometimes abrasive personality, you can easily see why she may rub people the wrong way. Her reluctant relationship with the mysterious dog that bonds with her is also a typical “Spencer Quinn” device — seemingly all of his novels explore the human/dog relationship.

Don’t go into this expecting light and fluffy, but if you’re willing to tackle a little darkness and some rough characters, I highly recommend this. One of my favorite reads of 2017!

[ official The Right Side page on the official Spencer Quinn web site (pseudonym of Peter Abrahams) ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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