What strikes one first is the voice: robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never boring. Here is a novelist who absolutely comprehends the pleasures of imagination and transformation.
The New York Times Book Review
At the start of this quietly funny, slightly mysterious novel of discovering one's roots from bestseller Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), 29-year-old Rima Lanisell visits her estranged godmother, Addison Early, in Addison's house by the sea, Wit's End, in storied Santa Cruz, Calif. Addison, the wildly successful but cautiously private author of the Maxwell Lane mysteries, was once the girlfriend of Rima's recently deceased father, Bim, for whom a character in the series is named. For each novel, Addison first constructs a dollhouse diorama that depicts what will be the principal murder scene, but her upcoming novel and its dollhouse are uncharacteristically delayed. By weeding through decades-old correspondence with eccentric fans and the contemporary channels of online forums, Rima slowly discovers the truth behind Addison's novels and that Rima herself is a topic of interest among Maxwell Lane devotees. As Fowler analyzes our modern-day relationship to novels and writers' relationship to their readers, the line between fiction and reality blurs-real people become characters in another's blog as fictional characters become real to the fans that fetishize them. Author tour. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In a change of pace from her best-selling The Jane Austen Book Club, Fowler has written a mystery that's barely a mystery but is every bit an absorbing and funny novel. Rima, a woman who has mastered the art of losing (including her mother, brother, and father) arrives in Santa Cruz, CA, to stay with her godmother, the famous and reclusive mystery writer Addison Early, whose book titles and plots provide chuckles throughout. Rima wants to learn the truth of the nature of the relationship between Addison and Rima's father, Bim, who might have been complicit in an old murder, as implied in one of Addison's novels. Yet the greater mystery turns out to be Addison, who seeks to protect her privacy and her works from her increasingly intrusive fans. One of the most refreshing things about Fowler's witty novel is its currency. At one point, Addison remarks that today's novels are unreliable guides to daily life since no one in them watches television. Indeed, Fowler's own characters write blogs, read message boards, watch YouTube, and consult (and even edit) Wikipedia. This insightful and engaging book is recommended for all public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/07.]
Amy Watts Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A prickly, computer-age take on the mystery genre, from Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club, 2004, etc.). Twenty-nine-year-old Ohio schoolteacher Rima Lanisell comes to Santa Cruz, Calif., to stay with her godmother Addison Early. The famous author of a mystery series featuring detective Maxwell Lane, Addison is an eccentric who creates a dollhouse miniature of her crime scene before actually writing each novel. Rima is curious about Addison's relationship and eventual falling out with Rima's recently deceased father, a well-respected journalist whose name Addison used for the wife-murderer in one of her novels. Shortly after Rima's arrival at Addison's house, a wayward fan steals a miniature body from one of the dollhouses. While Rima becomes obsessed with hunting down the perpetrator, that theft seems as close to scary crime as the novel is going to get. Although Rima is mourning not only her father's but also her adored, risk-taking only brother's death, the tone remains light and mocking (and predictably, though jarringly, hostile to the Bush administration). Addison's household includes a cast of gently comical updated gothic stereotypes, including a housekeeper with a shady past, her alienated son and a blogging dog-walker who informs Rima that Addison and Maxwell Lane are popular topics online. Logging on, Rima soon finds the distinction between fact and fiction blurring in regard to her father, Addison and even herself. Along the way she finds a stash of fan letters sent to Maxwell. She writes back to one in Maxwell's name. She also begins wondering how her father knew the letter writer, once a member of a local right-wing religious cult. Only astute readers will wade through thesometimes annoying barrage of disjointed, quirky twists to find the hints planted that there may once have been a real murder involving the cult, and that Rima's father may have been involved. Fowler's clever insights eventually sink in as more profound than they initially seemed. Agent: Wendy Weil/Wendy Weil Agency
"Fowler's understated wit and storytelling skills are in full flower."
-The Boston Globe
"[A] Rubik's cube of a book...this is venturesome work."
-The Seattle Times
"Fowler's subtle humor glides across these pages."
-The Washington Post
"[A] cyber-gothic-mystery-romance (you heard it coined here), and it's a lovely read."
-The Sunday Oregonian