DEATH STALKS THE KHMER
By Patricia Harrington
AmErica House Publisher
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
The author, Patricia Harrington, brings a considerable amount of knowledge to this, her first novel. Knowledge and compassion. She has worked with the Cambodian refugee community in the Puget Sound (Seattle) area for over a decade. With the skill of a veteran writer, Harrington brings the clashing of the American and Cambodian cultures to the forefront in a haunting tale of murder and intrigue.
This story might easily have been clipped from the lead article of a recent Seattle Post-Intelligencer news article. It is that timely. The crime, the emotions, the mistrust of police and politicians, and the wariness of the Cambodian refugees is real enough. I suspect it occurs to some extent with all immigrants. The author brings a set of characters to life in such a way that the reader cannot help but become involved in their struggle. The reader may not know anything about the Khmer when they begin reading page one, but they will know and understand plenty by the time they turn the last page and close the book. It is more than just a book about murder, police, and mystery. It is a book about people trying to balance their lives, trying to "walk in American ways while honoring their Cambodian customs."
As readers, we get a history lesson and a well plotted mystery.
Although the names of some of the characters will have your tongue or your eyes, twisting and turning to get a grasp of them, don't worry, you'll quickly get everyone sorted out...from Patrewski to Sovath Sovang to the protagonist, Bridget O'Hern.
Ms. Harrington has a crisp writing style that is quite refreshing. There is a breeziness and sense of humor lurking in the words that too often would be edited out by lesser writers. Or over written in tired cliches, by lesser writers.
Forthcoming: Book number two in the Bridget O'Hern series is called DEATH COMES TOO SOON and is set in a fictitious town on the Oregon Coast, Sunset View. Book number three is called DEATH RETURNS TO ATHENRY and is set in Ireland on a genealogical bus tour.
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