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Archive for the ‘The Chatham School Affair’ Category

SandrinesCaseSam Madison arrives home after teaching his night class at Coburn College, outside of Atlanta, to find his wife, Sandrine, dead in her bed, the result of an overdose of Demerol, antihistamines and alcohol (although he doesn’t necessarily know this at the time). As the police delve into the case, questions arise as to whether this apparent suicide, was indeed, suicide.

This scenario in hands other than Thomas H. Cook, could have resulted in a police procedural ready made for TV Columbo style. However, Mr. Cook, in his unique fashion, has crafted a mystery that pokes into Sam’s and Sandrine’s psyche, fleshes out their lives, and gives you glimpses into their inner turmoil.

Sandrine’s Case starts on Day 1 of Sam’s murder trial. As prosecution witnesses take the stand, you don’t hear their testimony. You relive Sam’s encounters with each one, the police officer, the detective, etc. as he recalls these encounters. You ponder what he ponders, as his mind wanders through possibilities, reminiscences, theories, projections. Just as in Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda (which I just finished and blogged about), there is a mystery. But that is not the reason for these books. Visitation Street probes the neighborhood of Red Hook and the lives of the few major characters who intersect the mystery. In Sandrine’s Case, readers explore the minds of the characters who intersect the mystery of Sandrine’s death. That is the reason to be for these books and that is one reason why you must read them.

Another reason is the writing. Mr. Cook is a master story teller. His descriptions are superb, such as “I’d noticed that his teeth were badly crooked, like rows of tilted tombstones in a desecrated cemetery.” How much more visual can you get?

There are writers that churn out book after book. You can count on them for one every six months or a year, like clockwork. Then there are those who seemingly take whatever time is required to put the right word in the right order on the page and you wait with anticipation both for the next words and the next book, not knowing when it will arrive. Thomas H. Cook is one of the latter authors. Fatherhood and Other Stories, FatherhoodAndOtherStorieswhich I recently finished, was a surprise. I didn’t even know it was coming out. Sandrine’s Case has been on my ‘must read’ list for months, since I knew beforehand when it was going to be published. Now, I have to wait for an unknown, but way too long a time for Mr. Cook’s next book. Maybe, as I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, I’ll reread TheChathamSchoolAffairThe Chatham School Affair which launched my love of his writing.

To conclude, I’ve just mentioned four books you must read: Sandrine’s Case, Fatherhood and Other Stories and The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook and Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda. What are you waiting for? Get started. You’ve got a lot a reading to do!!

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