Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
This week I’ve chosen Maelstrom by Francis Guenette for my Throwback Thursday post. It was published in November 2015 and was a 5* read.
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.
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.
Sheriff Bert Calder, with the help of Mayor Amos Thatcher, has held the town of Haddon under his thumb for twenty-five years. As things spin out of control, Calder works the angles, ensuring he can make the most of the upheaval that is to come.
Rafael Destino, facing his own mortality, races against time to gain control of the railroad – a lifeline essential to the town’s survival. His goal – to financially destroy Thatcher, the man he believes responsible for the death of his beloved sister. His tool – adopted son Myhetta. But how far down the road of revenge will Rafael push the young man who owes him everything?
Myhetta is poised on the edge of controlling Destino Enterprises, the job he has been groomed for. While money, power and influence are his to command, the past continues to torment him.
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.