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The Phenomenon's Daughter
“In the soundtrack to my childhood, crickets in the throes of summer love carry the beat, and mosquitoes whine out a high harmony to Hank Williams wailing Long Gone Lonesome Blues—a song guaranteed to make you laugh and cry at the same time.”
And so begins the journey of Calla Lily Flowers, a girl with a big brain and "not a lick of common sense" coming of age in a housing project in Georgia just prior to the turbulent 1960s. Her vivacious mother, Ava Rose, is tap dancing between eccentricity and madness. Her grandmother still believes Jesus is going to save them, and her older sister, Maggie, believes it just might be Elvis.
Before the #MeToo Movement, Magenta Rave sought justice for sexual assault survivors. When she couldn't get that, she got even. Like Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, she doesn't kill the perpetrators. She just makes them wish they were dead. But who is Magenta Rave? Is she more than one woman? On different occasions, eyewitnesses describe her as a petite blonde, a loud buxom redhead, and an awkward boyish brunette. Detective Simone Rosenberg and her good-hearted, good-old-boy partner, Marty Sloan are assigned the case. Their investigation leads them into a world of shattered women, paramilitary wackos, and the outer boundaries of their own hearts and minds. This fast-paced, character-rich, and often darkly funny novel will keep you guessing as it careens wildly towards its startling conclusion.
If you cheered Lisbeth Salander, (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) you'll applaud Magenta Rave. Zonder's quirky cast of characters -- and especially the women who have suffered at the hands of abusive men -- will keep you guessing as you try to answer the question, "Who is Magenta Rave?"
Vicki Lane, author, The Elizabeth Goodweather Mystery Series, www.vickilanemysteries.com
From beginning to end as I read this book, Janna Zonder kept me breathless, my pulse racing until step by step everything ended in solution. This debut novel sets the bar higher for those to follow if they want to create suspense, mystery, and satisfaction in an ending that could have been real life.
Bryan Robinson, Ph.D, author and psychotherapist, www.bryanrobinsononline.com
I was lucky enough to hear author Janna Zonder read the opening of this thriller to an audience of writers. The first sentences grabbed us all. Nobody so much as sneezed until the end of the reading, when we collectively clamored for more.
I'm betting you'll be doing the same. It's a thriller alright, but with dimensional characters who seem like friends by the end of the book - at least some of them. Best of all, Zonder deftly handles the topic of the victimization of woman by sexual predators. While it would have been easy to sensationalize her story and try to rope in readers with a rote story-line and a hemorrhage of blood-letting details, she masterfully walks a razor's edge instead. By the end of the book, you'll have taken a deeper look at a disturbing societal trend and been entertained simultaneously. And it's probably a book that won't last long, as the story keeps you moving through at a fast clip. Maybe it should belong in a new category: Thinker's Thriller
Ellis Anderson, author, Under Surge, Under Siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louise and Katrina, Winner 2010 Eudora Welty Book Prize, www.ellisanderson.com