Reunion at Red Paint Bay
by George Harrar
Cover Artist: Minden Pictures / Carr Clifton: Marshall Point Lighthouse
Review by Gayle Surrette
Other Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781590515457
Date: 29 January 2013 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Simon Howe returned to his home town of Read Paint when his father was ill, and then bought the local newspaper and settled into a comfortable routine. His psychologist wife, Amy, traveled to her office out of town. His surly neo-teen son, Davey, attended the local school. Everything was ordinary and comfortable until the advent of his high school reunion and the arrival of the first postcard.
The postcards were pictures of various landmarks and, after receiving a couple, appeared to be marking travel towards Red Paint. Simon, at first, thought they were to do with the reunion or were misaddressed since they had no return address or sender name. However, over time the messages became more threatening -- though cryptic. Simon didn't have a clue about what the postcards were trying to say.
I originally picked the book because it took place in a small Maine town and I'm originally from Maine. I enjoyed the references to real places that I knew and the feel of the Red Paint rang true with my own experiences growing up in a very small town in western Maine.
However, the characters seemed dull and wooden. Not that they weren't fleshed out by the author, but that they seemed to have no grounded emotions. Simon was flat -- never very happy, never very sad -- and never really engaged in what was happening around him. His wife, Amy, seemed to think she was smarter and better than everyone else -- in charge and controlling of all around her.
Then there was the lack of mystery. As a mood piece this works, but there was very little that was mysterious. Most mystery readers will recognize the set up quite early and the twist -- revealed at the end of the book -- turned out to not be so much a surprising twist to the plot as a confirmation that the reader was right all along.
Readers may enjoy Reunion at Red Paint Bay provided they enjoy moody, psychological-based, slices of small time life where the past deeds can come to haunt the present. If you expect a traditional murder, mayhem, detection, and following clues to a satisfactory resolution where justice prevails at the end, you'll be sorely disappointed. Reunion at Red Paint Bay has no resolution except that which the reader cares to believe fits the events they've just read about -- an ending where life goes with unresolved issues and more emotional baggage.