Naples newcomer turns out a highly original second novel

Ginger Quill, by Kay Taylor Burnett. iUniverse. 170 pages. Trade paperback $13.95.

The author, a recent transplant to Naples, is a retired Texas newspaper publisher and magazine editor currently working on her third novel, set in Florida. Before publishing Ginger Quill last year, she had published her first novel – No Odes to Widows in 2009. 9781491733653_COVER.indd

Set in scenic stretches of New Mexico and Colorado, Ginger Quill focuses on the anxieties of Mae Maguire, recently divorced and concerned about being followed and possibly harmed by her imbalanced ex-husband. As readers learn, she has every right to be worried. Michael Montrose is stalking her, convinced that their mutual friend Joel has betrayed him.

In fact, Joel has offered Mae the safety of his home and continued friendship while she prepares for her future; she hopes to make a living as an artist.  Joel’s serene fishing cabin in Colorado, along the northern Rio Grande, is just the place of Mae’s emotional healing. This gorgeous natural setting inspires her art, though she remains unsettled about Michael being out there scheming revenge over the divorce.

Joel Zyvoloski works as a geothermal engineer for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a U. S. government operation. His Colorado neighbor, Johannes Ackerman, is a hydrologist connected with the prestigious Santa Fe Institute. Johannes is concerned about water purity, and his concerns may have something to do with the book’s subplot – the illegal extracting and sale of uranium from ostensibly closed Colorado mines.

Burnett

Burnett

Johannes, U.S. born of German parents, has interesting stories to tell about German prisoners of war at the end of WWII who were impressed into labor in the United States. While his own background and the “story within a story” are fascinating, it is hard to connect them to the main plot. They do add some dark local color.

The complication arises when a woman named Katja Richter becomes a co-worker with Joel at the Los Alamos Laboratory. She turns pale when Mae and Joel mention the name of Johannes Ackerman. Something is wrong here.

Mae realizes that Katja has performed a speedy seduction of her old friend, and that Katja’s interest in Joel is probably not truly a romantic one. Katja’s background as someone raised in East Germany but escaped to the west before the wall came down excites Joel, but it adds to Mae’s nervousness about her.

Not much later, Mae discovers that Katja also has a work and possibly a romantic relationship with Johannes. What’s going on here? . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 3, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the June 4 Bonita Springs and Naples editions, and the June 11 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Ginger Quill

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Filed under Authors and Books, Florida Authors

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