I cut my teeth on mystery novels when I was about eight. Every gift-giving occasion, my uncle would give me two brand new Bobbsey Twin books- hard covers. I loved following Bert and Nan, Flossie and Freddie as they solved mysteries in and around their home town, Lakeport. My daughter has those books I managed to save through numerous moves.
Anyway- I still love a good mystery and I finished a new one this morning. Peter Abraham’s new book End of Story. I added this book to my ‘must read’ list when it appeared on Entertainment Weekly’s list of Best Books for 2006. End of Story is a great book…but not just because EW said so. (Or any of the other media outlets which have called it everything from “cunning…suspenseful…very scary” (New York Times Book Review) to “almost physically impossible to put down.” (Booklist) I’d have to agree with that last one; I read last night until my eyes were burning. This is a great book because it pays attention to details, transcends crime-story cliches and delivers characters that are cunning, charismatic, naive.
End of Story tells the compelling tale of Ivy Siedel, an aspiring writer, who takes a job teaching writing to a small group of inmates at Dannemora Prison, in Upstate New York. When one of her students, Vance Harrow, turns out to be a talented writer, Ivy decides to take a closer look at his history and discovers something about him that both shocks and excites her…and changes her life forever. Abrahams doesn’t waste any time – dumping the reader right into the middle of Ivy’s story- which barrels along as fast as you can turn the pages (and I was turning pretty fast. I read the book over the course of two days.) Obviously, since this is a mystery novel I can’t give you too much info. But I can say that the novel’s natural climax offers a surprising twist as Ivy works and reworks the details of Vance’s story. Along the way Abrahams makes some interesting observations about writing and the process of doing it.