- Author: Francis Guenette
- Published: November 2015 by Huckleberry Haven Publishing
- Category: Suspense, Thriller
A shot is fired into the still night air and a young woman dies on Suicide Ridge. A dangerous game has begun. Over the course of one blistering, hot week, winds of change sweep through an isolated valley in small town America.
In a clash of powerful men, with fathers pitted against sons, no one will be left unscathed. Maelstrom is a page turner that speeds along like a runaway train.
When Sheriff Bert Calder comes to tell Amos Tanner, the Mayor of Haddon, that Gracie Davison is dead, Amos’ wife Laura is eavesdropping on the conversation. She is sure her husband and the Sheriff have something to do with it. Laura knew Gracie from before she came to live in Haddon and is almost certain now who is responsible for all the bad things that happen in town. Her stepson Casey is running wild and Laura promises herself she’ll leave and take Casey with her. Casey experiences visions and dreams, able to ‘see’ past and future events when he touches an object or is close to someone.
Sheriff Calder, a cold and calculating man, capable of cruelty beyond comprehension, has been controlling the town by fear, with the help of Amos Tanner, for over twenty years. He considers himself too powerful and intimidating for anyone to end his reign of terror.
Rafael Destino, the Lord of Casa Destino, is working towards ruining Amos Thatcher, financially and emotionally. He holds Thatcher responsible for the suspicious death of the sister he loved and who Thatcher married. Rafael hopes his adopted son, Myhetta, will be able to bring about Thatcher’s destruction before his own death. Myhetta loves Rafael and feels beholden, even though Rafael’s strategy is sometimes a heavy burden.
Rafael had grown ruthless when he had been diagnosed with a heart condition and told that if he stayed calm and did next to nothing, he might survive a few years, no more. With the heir to the Destino fortune a boy under the control of a sworn enemy, all Amos Thatcher had to do was bide his time. That situation, Rafael told Myhetta, could not be countenanced. Myhetta’s adoption and subsequent naming as Rafael’s heir was the first line of defense.
Maelstrom hit the ground running and didn’t stop. Superb premise, compelling and well crafted story line. The characters are so well drawn and the setting very visual. The story includes, and deals with a lot, including murders, revenge, corruption and cruelty. Family connections are wide-spread, tangled and tricky.
A wonderfully diverse cast of characters make this story memorable for me. Good and bad, they are all well-portrayed and realistic. Myhetta is my favourite, complex and definitely flawed but at heart a good guy plagued by, and struggling with, the weight of responsibility he feels. His back story unfolds throughout and generates sympathy and understanding of how his past, what he endured, shaped the man he has become. Known amongst the townsfolk as breed, because of his mixed ancestry, he had a less than easy childhood until Rafael adopted him when he and Myhetta’s mother, Ahya, began a relationship.
Myhetta does everything he can to negate the Sheriff’s influence and help those he has harmed, most notably, Casey. After he and his friends steal alcohol from the liquor store Calder punishes Casey in a terrible way, which brings him to the Casa Destino and Myhetta.
Casey sat in his room after Carol had gone and stared out the window. The sun set in a show of brilliant colours fired across the sky, lighting the pasture lands and setting the surrounding forest ablaze. He wondered how so many bad things could exist in a world that was so beautiful.
The title is perfect and fits the story…’a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil’ Two vortexes swirling on a collision course, with Sheriff Calder at the centre of one and Myhetta at the heart of the other. The touch of supernatural with Casey is portrayed brilliantly and the relationship which develops between him and Myhetta is wonderful. Impressive writing and a powerful, captivating narrative, I loved it.
The story of how Francis Guenette came to write this book from her mother’s original, unpublished manuscript and notes is extraordinary. The whole process is explained at the end of the book and is a wonderful account which spans decades.
This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About the author
Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and dog and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden on the Northern end of Vancouver Island. She lives in an off-the-grid home that employs a combination of micro-hydro and solar power.
Between May and September, Billy Bob the Bear drops over to graze and eat huckleberries and salal. Now and then cougar tracks are spotted meandering across the property. Life is good in the hinterlands, but Francis warns – you have to keep your eyes open and know where you are.
Francis has a daughter and a son – both happily married and pursuing interesting careers. She also has two beautiful and wildly funny granddaughters who provide her with inspiration for writing and living.
For most of her working life, Francis has been an educator. She has worked with special needs children and youth and taught at the undergrad level at the University of Victoria. She has a graduate degree in counselling psychology and very nearly completed her PhD. There was that pesky matter of the doctoral dissertation, but enough said on that score! She has worked as a trauma counsellor, a researcher, and a graduate student supervisor.
During her academic life Francis published (on her own and with others) several articles that were accepted to peer-reviewed journals as well as contributing to chapters in two published books.
Visit her WordPress blog http://disappearinginplainsight.com to learn all you would ever want to know about Francis and her writing life. There you can like her on Facebook. You are also invited to follow Francis on Twitter @FrancisGuenette