Recommended Reads: ‘Follow Her Home’ an irresistible mystery
Juniper Song would love to be a detective. Now her dear friend asks her for help in a private, family investigation. That’s irresistible. It’s especially irresistible when the investigation quickly turns into a mystery.
Her friends call her Song, and she’s been a Phillip Marlowe fan since her 20-something self had first read “The Big Sleep” at 13. As she says, “I savored his words, studied his manners, and methods. I carried him with me like an idol.” And now she had her own job and client. “He was someone I wanted to help. There were only a few of those left.”
This new author keeps the action moving in her debut novel. The story takes place over just a weekend. She writes in a modern style that contains elements of the old detective noir. Her writing flows almost rhythmically, and she really knows how to turn a descriptive phrase in the most interesting and vivid way. It’s all well suited to the background of Los Angeles, where the story takes place.
Checking on whether her friend’s father is having an affair, Song enlists the help of other friends and meets some interesting people along the way. But complications quickly set in and she soon crosses paths with some bad people as well. Song finds out that when you step out from the fictional pages you have to keep your wits about you at all times. She’s knocked out, uncovers murder, is chased, and followed, and more. She has to solve this mystery before time runs out on her, and also on her friends.
While Song is investigating, the author skillfully tells a parallel story about Song’s hidden family secret. This is a secret that has stayed deeply embedded in Song’s heart for over 8 years. As this family story is revealed, it lends insights into Song’s analysis and actions in solving today’s mystery.
The author has a fun time drawing detailed similarities between Song and Marlowe. Song certainly has modeled herself after Marlowe as she’s grown up. Like Marlowe, Song is wise-cracking, tough, contemplative, and philosophical. She savors her cigarettes, the Camel brand same as Marlowe. Song comments on what she thinks Marlowe would do throughout most of the action in the book. Towards the end, her direct references to Marlowe disappear, and Song is on her own.
I was curious throughout this novel at each plot turn. The characters were all so interesting. The immersion into Asian culture in L.A. was fascinating. Mostly I enjoyed the very descriptive, detailed writing style, with liberal use of interesting metaphors, while still keeping a fast paced read.
“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Thereby hangs a tale . . . .
– By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. She’s enjoyed living in Edmonds for over 20 years. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.