LJ's Reviews > Awakening

Awakening by Sharon Bolton
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Jul 08, 2009

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bookshelves: amateur_sleuth, contemporary_post_1945, england, female_author, mystery, suspense
Read in June, 2009

First Sentence: The darkest hour I’ve ever known began last Thursday, a heartbeat before the sun came up.

Clara Benning is a veterinary surgeon who, due to a childhood accident, chooses to spend her time working with a wildlife hospital and living as a near recluse in her small village near the boundaries of Devon and Dorset England. Grass snakes are common in that area, but not when they invade households en masse. Even less common is when a resident dies by the bite of a black adder as many times the level of venom from one snake bite.

When a taipan, one of the world’s most deadly snakes and native to New Guiana, is found, there is clearly a human hand at work killing elderly residents. Along with her neighbor, a police officer, and an internationally herpetologist, Clara must uncover a long buried secret and a killer, before more die.

I can’t say I’m fond of snakes, but its clear Ms. Bolton has done her research. I found the information on snakes, the breeds, their venom and their history in England very interesting. I still don’t want one as a pet, but the information was included in such a way that it added to the story without disrupting the flow.

And flow the plot did. From the very beginning, added by her vivid descriptions and very good suspense. The story did lag a bit at one point, but soon picked up again. I found myself reading much later into the night than I had intended. I was never able to predict where the story was headed. The twists were very well done.

Bolton likes very strong, very independent women. As with her first book, “Sacrifice,” the protagonist doesn’t need a man to rescue her. She occasionally does things which would qualify a different character as “too stupid to live,” but the difference is that Bolton’s characters are aware when they put themselves into those situations and the motivation for so doing is always solid. There is a strong emotional factor as well. We come to understand very clearly what has made Clara as she is and are allowed to see her break through those barriers; not in a maudlin was, but in a way that is understandable and well done.

It is not a perfect book, but it is a solid read with excellent suspense. I am quite certain her next book will make its way to my shelves.

AWAKENING (Susp-Clara Benning-UK-Cont) – G+
Bolton, S.K. – 2nd standalone
Bantam Press, 2009, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780593059234
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