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THE EARTHQUAKE BIRD


By Susanna Jones

Mysterious Press (Warner Books)
ISBN: 0-89296-742-0
September, 2001 $22.95

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

This is a debut novel, reminiscent of the suspenseful writing style of Shizuko Natsuki. The storytelling technique is a little off beat...a little unsettling. Everything unravels from the protagonist's point of view. We get no outside clues about what is going on, or what has gone on before this moment, other than Lucy's recollections and interpretations. We hear the story, as Lucy wants us to hear it, in a conversational style that some readers may find difficult or uncomfortable at first, but the pay off is worth the effort it may take to persevere. Other readers, myself included, will slip into Lucy's "skin" and "head" as if it were our own.

Lucy Fly is under suspicion for the murder and dismemberment of a friend. Two police officers escort her from her office and accompany her "downtown" for more questioning. The back-story includes Lucy's childhood and escape from Britain to relevant details about her life in Tokyo where she works as a translator. To say more, would spoil the experience of reading this remarkable book for you.

I started reading this book late last night. I had only meant to browse through a few pages, just to get the feel for it. I quickly found myself drawn to the character. I kept promising myself that I would only read to the end of the page--No!--to the end of the chapter, before going back to sleep. I put the book aside numerous times only to pick it up and begin reading again. Around 3 a.m. I gave up all pretext of trying to sleep and settled in to finish reading this book. It was mesmerizing.

A word of warning. If you can resist, don't read the publicity information on the book cover or flaps. Just dive right in to this strange tale and experience it for yourself without any preconceived ideas about what might be coming next.

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