Author of Murder in Los Lobos and
Murder at Cuyamaca Beach
Reviews - Reticence of Ravens
you find yourself in an airport with a long flight ahead as I recently did, I
can’t think of a better book to while away the hours than M. M. Gornell’s “Reticence
of Ravens.” In her newest from Aberdeen Bay Publishing, Gornell once again
returns to the haunting theme of her previous mystery, “Death of a Perfect Man”—vulnerable
people who flee to California’s Mojave desert to escape the past, only to find
it has followed them.
of place is Gornell’s great strength. As a student of PD James and a resident
of the high desert town of Newberry Springs (where the annual rainfall averages
four inches), she knows whereof she writes. This is the land of creosote bushes
and Palo Verde trees set against an endless montage of sand and sky. Readers
can almost taste the grit on their tongues, feel the sun on their arms and hear
the raucous cry of the ravens.
writer deftly uses these enigmatic birds as a metaphor for some sinister
goings-on: the murder of a man everyone
hated, his developmentally disabled daughter drenched in blood and arrested for
his killing, criminal elements that descend seemingly from nowhere. And for
what purpose? Everyone knows nothing happens in the desert. But then again, maybe the ravens know more
than we do.
central casting characters for Gornell. The protagonist, Hubert James Champion
III, lugs around three Roman numerals
after his name as well as a lot of baggage. What’s a former East Coast
psychologist with possible ties to the FBI doing running a gas station and
mini-mart in this god-forsaken place? And why can’t he commit to the attractive
Assistant Sheriff who has a hankering for him, and why does he mistrust her
deputy? Readers know Hugh has secrets and they won’t be able to close the book
until they find out what they are.
solid High Five for “Reticence of Ravens.”