DETOUR: Going Somewhere and Somewhere Else

Detour Sign Dunedin FL
Detour Sign Dunedin FL (Photo from WikiMedia.org)

We are flying from Arizona to Florida to attend my grand daughter’s wedding. Nice trip. Exciting event.  However it seems that every time I have an opportunity to go Somewhere, I can’t help thinking about the opportunities—to go Somewhere Else. Soon I’ll be sharing our trip to Somewhere Else.

Do you think that way, or do I have a detour built into the routing of travel thoughts in my brain?

Here are some examples.

OHIO TO NEW YORK

Visiting Ohio
Our sons with my husband’s grandmother in Ohio, 1966.

In the 1960’s, once a year we drove or flew from Arizona with our young children to visit our family still iin Ohio.  In 1964, that was a perfect excuse to go to the New York World’s Fair.

1964 New York World's Fair
1964 New York World’s Fair

Boston to Cape Cod and D.C.

Paul Revere's Tomb, Boston
Offerings left at Paul Revere’s tomb, Old Granary Burial Ground, Boston

In about 1968, Ken was scheduled to go to Boston for a national bridge tournament.  We turned that into an extravaganza with his family joining us in Cape Cod and then passing us off to my family for a trip to Washington D. C.

Capitol Hill at Night, by Thomas Hawk from Flcker
Capitol Hill at Night, by Thomas Hawk from Flcker

Sweden to Russia

In the late 90’s, we decided to make a long delayed visit to Sweden to see some relatives of my sister-in-law. But of course that led to Somewhere Else–St. Petersburg Russia.

Singapore to Cambodia

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Harbor at Night

Not to mention Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand.  As a club president, Ken took a Rotary-sponsored trip to Singapore in 2000.  Well, heck, if you’re going  Somewhere in Southeast Asia, you might as well add your life-long dream of visiting Angkor Wat–and stop in Singapore–and take a ferry to Macau–and spend a few days in Thailand–right?

Mobile Grocery Store
Mobile Grocery Store in Cambodia

Budapest to Bavaria and Austria

Chain bridge over the Danube, Budapest
Chain bridge over the Danube, Budapest, just blocks from “our” apartment

Hey, it was all once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after all! This one had a different start. Ken laughed when I said I had won a 3- night stay at an apartment in Budapest, thinking that was about the most remote possibility on our travel list.  However, after a bit of plotting and planning, we realized that we could get a long-delayed look at Austria and it just happened to be a big birthday year for Mozart, so Salzburg was full of music. And as long as we were going to Budapest by way of Austria, why not land in Munich and see Bavaria and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle as well.

Old town cafe, Salzburg
Old town cafe, Salzburg, opposite Mozart’s childhood apartment

Aegean Islands to Ephesus and Meteora

Island of Serifos--sailing out
Island of Serifos–sailing out

Looking back on it, some of our choices look just plain greedy.  After all, if one is going to rent a sailboat with friends and hire a captain and sail around the Aegean islands for ten days—isn’t that a life-time vacation?  Well, yes, but we went all that way—so why not extend just a big and go to Ephesus in Turkey. And as long as we’re staying a little longer, how about a jaunt up to Meteora in Central Greece, since Ken had never seen it.  We’ve never regretted our “travel greed.”

Meteora Greece
Ayios Triados, Meteora Greece
 Ephesus,
The Library – Ephesus, Turkey

AND NOW

Key West Florida Beach
Key West Florida Beach

Oh, yes, where was I? I started talking about a wedding in Florida. Very nice state. But SO close to three states of the five I have not yet visited–so we will catch them with a Southern road trip. We’ve been wanting to travel to one of my favorite cities– Chattanooga,  and also to the Great Smoky Mountains, so we’ll go there before driving back through South Carolina to Atlanta and flying home. (The three states I had not visited–Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The two to go–North Dakota and Alaska.)

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

See?  Somewhere always leads to Somewhere Else.

Detour Sign

 

Brigid Quinn is Back and in Serious Trouble


Destination: Tucson, Arizona

Book: Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman

 

 

Becky Masterman, a Tucson resident, created a female character who stands out in the crowd of female detectives.  Fans who read her first novel,Rage Against the Dying, have been eagerly waiting for the second in what they hope will be a lengthy series  featuring Brigid Quinn. A retired FBI agent, married to a retired Episcopal priest, she has recently settled (not that Brigid actually settles) in Tucson.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park, Tucson

You might guess by the “retired” that comes before FBI agent, Brigid Quinn is somewhere north of 55, but age is just a number, and she’s not counting.  She is insatiably drawn to mysterious situations with a dangerous edge, to the despair of her peace-loving husband.  Brigid still knows how to handle bad guys–and gals–both physically and through meticulous analysis of evidence and application of street smarts.

The new book, Fear the Darkness, shows Brigid trying to fit in to a ‘normal’ life.  She has followed through on a promise to her brother’s dying wife and brought the couples college-age daughter to Tucson to live so that the girl can establish residency for college.  As we learn more about Brigid’s former job as an undercover agent–adapting to roles of prostitute, drug runner, or other lowdown vermin– it is easy to see how she can have doubts about this normal-family-surrogate-mother thing.

I could do this.  I was tough.  I may be small and have prematurely white hair, but I’m as psychologically and physically fit as you can be at my age.  And as I’ve explained, I can disarm a grown man before he could say..anything….Next to somebody like me, Chuck Norris is just a wuss.  How hard could it be to be a good aunt.

To add to her angst, Gemma Kate, the neice, shows some odd quirks of her own.  In fact her behavior is so odd that Brigid begins to wonder if the clever girl is a psychopath. Bad things start happening all around, and Brigid herself becomes  a target of some sort of evil that she can’t quite identify.

The plot is complex–peopled with the sort of friends and neighbors you can recognize without thinking “stock characters.”  This complexity takes a lot of time to set up–the mysterious teenage suicide; the devotion of a friend (the only one Brigid has ever had) to her paralyzed husband; the appearance of an appealing man at church one day; even the rather unenthusiastic minister. Then there’s an arrogant doctor with a wife who seems unhinged; a cop who may be hiding family secrets.  Readers who want their thrillers to leap right in to the action are going to have to cool their heels while they meet these characters and experience how “normal” can slide into a horror show so gradually that you hardly notice.

The climax is frightening not just because of the violent action, presented in proper thriller fashion in a breath-taking sequence, but also because the “I never saw that coming” ending has you wondering about the assumptions you make in your own life. It’s not as though the author didn’t try to warn you.

I admit from the start it’s at least embarrassing to not recognize the devil, but I can understand because I’ve been there…During my time with the Bureau, I lived among killers who cheerfully attended their daughters’ ballet recitals, and men who trafficked in human flesh whole baby-talking their parakeets.

Although I was impatient with the slow setup of this book, I still am a big fan of Brigid Quinn and her smart-ass wisecracks and derring-do. The first book was a nominee for best first novel in the Edgars (mystery writing) and no doubt this one will garner some of the same recognition. Brigid’s dialogue is not the only smart thing about the writing.

Sunset and rain, Tucson
Sunset and rain, Tucson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re wondering what Tucson is like–not just the mountain paths and the wildlife, but also the culture–Masterman weaves that kind of information into the story.  Just one thing threw me, and I’m probably petty for mentioning it, but I can’t resist.

Night Blooming Cactus
Night Blooming Cereus

Gemma Kate and her boy friend  take off for Sabino Canyon and tell Brigid that they are going to look at the “night-blooming cactus and the wildlife”.  Sabino Canyon does have moonlight walks. Except this scene takes place in March. The night-blooming cereus–the night-bloomer that makes the best show doesn’t bloom until late June or early July. Until then, all there is to see is a pathetic plant lying on the ground imitating a dead stick.  I know–picky, picky, picky.

Where you can absolutely depend on Masterman’s research, of course, is in forensic details.  She has worked for years as an editor of forensic medicine books or law enforcement officials, and has a wide array of experts to call on. These nitty gritty details make the novel come to life. And nothing is livelier than the terrific creation, Brigid Quinn.

Disclaimers

The publisher sent me the book for review.  I have met Masterman personally, and interviewed her after her first book was published (you can read that interview here.) Neither of these things affects my giving you my honest appraisal of the book.

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