First the review:
I am fortunate to receive some great authors here and have been, even more grateful and pleased, as a Canadian, to receive some really talented Canadian authors this year. Ami McKay's The Virgin Cure was a treat and Peggy Blair's The Beggar's Opera rekindled my love of reading after a bit of a rough patch and numerous duty reads. Now I can add Rosemary McCracken to the mix.
I was unsure of what to expect with this one, but the cover interested me and the suspenseful plot pulled me in. Main character Pat Tierney was a treat as a middle-aged established female, widowed and successful in her own field, as an investment expert. I am not the world's biggest fan of suspense or mystery genre, but the plot, as I noted, is compelling. Pat is trudging along, for the most part, happily building a life after the death of her husband Michael, when the knock on her door comes from a woman named Jude. Jude, has a little boy with her who needs to be protected. She asks Pat to take Tommy. She reveals also that Tommy is Michael's son. Pat doesn't really disbelieve Jude as she sees Michael's mannerisms and looks abundantly apparent in the child. She helps Jude out over New Year's and anticipates it will be a short stint. But what appears to be a simple babysitting chore winds up being a full time state when Jude is murdered. In seemingly unrelated news, body parts are turning up throughout Toronto.
Pat is ambivalently thrust into the role of Nancy Drew seeking out the answers as to why Jude was murdered and who is involved. She knows enough to realize that the boy may also be in danger and may even have been a witness to some criminal acts. In the mix, there is also a safe house for refugees Safe Harbor. The plot them reveals human body parts, trafficking and illegal immigrants.
There are some strong characters here that I quite enjoyed. This is not a perfect book, but it is a fun and enjoyable read. Pat Tierney is a strong female character, not a pushover, and not a twenty year old blonde bimbo. She has much potential for followup novels. Tommy is sweet and the cast of supporting characters are interesting, especially some of the relatives of the child on the mother's side. The Seatons are a rich family with many quirks, but they are estranged from Jude because she has chosen a life of service and passion.
Safe Harbor is an enjoyable read with great timing and a strong dose of suspense. The main character Pat Tierney is one I hope to see again. McCracken was one of five finalists for the first ever Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel. She lives in Toronto with her husband and is a Canadian journalist who worked on newspapers across Canada.
Safe Harbor by Rosemary McCracken is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
It is in paperback and ebook format. By Imajin Books, 2012, 212 pages. I give this one a $$$$ out of $$$$$. Enjoyable and fun with an interesting main character. Great for the beach this summer. Perfect suspenseful cottage read for the summer of 2012.
Rosemary McCracken is a freelance journalist and fiction writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. Her first mystery novel, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Debut Dagger in 2010. It opens when a frightened woman barges into financial planner Pat Tierney’s office with a shocking request: “Look after my boy; he’s your late husband’s son.” The next day the woman is murdered and police say the seven-year-old may be the killer’s next target. Safe Habor was released by Imajin Books this spring, and is available as an ebook and a paperback on Amazon.com; also as a paperback on Amazon.ca and Barnes &Noble. Visit Rosemary on her website and her blog. http://www.rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/
QUESTIONS FROM THRIFTYMOMMASBRAINFOOD:
Q1. Pat Tierney is a strong female character and a financial advisor. An unusual career for a main character. Can you tell me how you came up with Pat?
A1. When I was turning over ideas for a central character for a mystery series, I first thought of creating a female journalist because that’s what I am and I know what the job entails. But I quickly moved on. Too close to home. I wanted to experience something new through my character. For several years, I’d been writing personal finance articles for newspapers and magazines: stories about acquiring a mortgage, saving for retirement, borrowing to invest -- that kind of thing. I’d interviewed scores of people in the financial and investment industry and attended their conferences. I knew the issues they face in their work, and their concerns. They work in a challenging business. Investment markets have been murder in recent years. I couldn't help but be impressed my most of them. They’re committed, caring people who help their clients realize many of their dreams. These people sparked the character of Pat Tierney. Pat has sleepless nights during down markets. She’s a champion of small investors and doesn't want to see them get taken. She wants to see financial fraudsters and white-collar criminals driven off the face of the earth. But she knows that won’t happen.
Q 2. What is your writing day like?
A2. Ideally, I’d like to devote three or four hours a day, five days a week, to fiction writing – first thing in the morning, when my brain is rested. But, unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way most of the time and that’s because of my non-fiction writing. I often have a telephone interview for an article in the morning, and after that I’ll type up my notes. And when I’m in the middle of a newspaper article, I try to finish it to get it out of the way. And then another one lands on my plate. So my solution is to write fiction and non-fiction in different places. I write fiction at my cottage in the Haliburton Highlands north of Toronto; this home-away-from-home has become my creative space. And I write and research my newspaper and magazine articles in Toronto. At the cottage, I write in the morning, with a break at mid-day for kayaking or cross-country skiing. Then I return to my laptop in the late afternoon and early evening.
Q3. How was the publishing journey for you?
A3.My first Pat Tierney novel was Last Date. In 2007, I entered it in Crime Writers of Canada’s inaugural Best Unpublished First Novel Competition. I was over the moon when it made the shortlist of five novels. Unfortunately, that honor did not lead to publication. With the recession of 2008, the market tightened, and Last Date never found a publisher. But being on that shortlist built my confidence. The judges liked my novel! I continued writing and completed the second Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, and I reworked it to stand as the first book in the series. In 2010, Safe Harbor was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger. Shortlisting in this competition has launched the careers of many writers, including Canada’s Louise Penny and Dorothy McIntosh. The CWA makes shortlisted entries available to British publishers and agents, and several asked to see my full manuscript. But Safe Harbor is not a British mystery, and none were willing to commit to it in today’s uncertain publishing world. Much as I love the works of British crime writers, the world I know and write about is North America. So I focused on the North American market. The market continued to be tight, and publishers and agents were hesitant. They couldn't decide whether it was a mystery or women’s fiction – it has a murder mystery plot, and it also tells the story of Pat’s personal journey of coming to terms with her husband’s infidelity and getting on with her life. They felt that if they couldn't fit it into one category, they wouldn’t be able to market it successfully. Then Imajin Books entered the picture. Publisher Cheryl Tardif thought Safe Harbor was a good read and would sell books. An hour after I sent her my query email, she asked to see the manuscript. A week later, she sent me a contract.
Q 4. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A4. Too often, it’s the alarm clock telling me to get ready for an interview for an article or an appointment. But on mornings when I don’t have interviews or appointments, I like to lie in bed for a few minutes upon awakening, and let my mind turn over my novel-in-progress. New characters sometimes emerge at this time, and plots and storylines can come together like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. The brain is rested and the subconscious seems to interact more effectively with the conscious mind. It was at this time that the premise for Safe Harbor came to me. I’d finished Last Date, and I was trying to come up with an idea for a sequel. What would be one of the worse things Pat could face? Michael, I thought. Michael, her late husband, wasn't the perfect spouse she thought he was. He’d been unfaithful…and he had a child by another woman. And Safe Harbor took off from there! What is next for you? I've nearly completed the first draft of the sequel to Safe Harbor. It’s is set outside Toronto. Pat Tierney goes north to cottage country – the Haversham Highlands, a thinly disguised version of my own Haliburton Highlands – to oversee the opening of a branch of her investment firm. Just before she arrives, an elderly man is killed when he drives into his garage and it bursts into flames. And she meets up with some bikers who think she’s involved in the local grow-op. I’m now tinkering with the ending, and then I’ll spend the summer doing a rewrite and edit. I enjoy the self-editing process because potential treasures can be spotted: characters that can be expended, scenes that can be beefed up or pared down, suspense that can be heightened. And I still have to come up with a title.
Thanks so much Rosemary! This giveaway is open to Canada only.
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