Title: The Mystery at Mount Forest Island
Author: Pat Camalliere
Genre: Historical Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Paranormal
Jessica Fletcher meets the Sopranos in this third book in the Cora Tozzi historical mystery series.
Based on a real place with some historical persons and events. Crime, deceit, love and the value of friendship set in the forests of Lemont, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. A woman whose family’s involvement in the Chicago Mob devastates lives throughout generations.
When an automobile accident leaves Valerie Pawlik totally blind, she masters the daily activities of a dark world, but because of painful mysteries from her childhood, she lacks the confidence to lead the independent life she desperately longs for with her young daughter. With the help of Cora and Cisco Tozzi, Frannie Berkowitz, and Billy Nokoy, Valerie sets out to search for the mother who deserted her and for the killer of her beloved uncle. But Billy is experiencing electrifying occult moments of his own. Their quest takes them into a dangerous world of the Chicago Mob, secrets and paranormal phenomenon, culminating when a stalker threatens their lives in the Palos Forest Preserves.
A very complex book about very complex characters in a complex plot. The author created a main character who is very much an anti-heroine. In a polite sense, Val wasn't very nice before her 'accident' and in many ways isn't very nice after either. She is an improved version of a 1/10 type but being a reasonable 6/10 on the personality scale is only worth so much.
The reader is tasked with trying to determine the salient point of the book. It may be that the point was to answer two questions of Val’s. The point may be that Val needed assistance and the point then was her getting assistance.
The entire cast of characters are flawed and very human in many ways. Cora has fundamental character flaws that she does, at least, recognize (some) and is willing to work on them. I had issue with Cora about midpoint in the book. To have a main character who has battled ghosts and has a ghost protector (who turns into a wolf) but not believe Billy's statements is unbelievable. There is no logical reason for a person who walks in the paranormal to not accept Billy at face value.
This book has a most unique approach to a mystery. A mystery is presented to the reader and then instead of an investigation, you get a flashback. The out of time flashback completely addresses the mystery thus eliminating the need for an investigation. The author again changes first-person POV to enter the out of time flashbacks. The failure to properly identify whose character POV is speaking immediately confuses the reader to no end.
As with other people who have reviewed this work, I was taken aback by the nonlinear timeline. The only positive being this author does put the date and year in bold but that is the only thing that marginally keeps a reader understanding what is going on.
There was a stronger issue with the use of 1st person POV. A new section started with a first-person POV but the first person was not clearly defined. The reader got that it was a girl, about 13 who lived in Illinois in 1958 but other than that... It is only if the reader is able to stick to it and continue forward does the identity become a little clearer. It appears that section was the first person POV of the girl who would be Val's mother. That is the implication.
The book will totally appeal to every fan of Cora as the mystery solver. If you have read and enjoyed either Sag Bridge or Black Partridge Woods, you will love this book. If you are a fan of mysteries involving the Mob in Illinois dating back to Capone's time, this book could be for you.
My Rating: 4 stars
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Pat Camalliere is the author of the popular, five-star-rated Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery Series. She lives with her husband in Lemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She serves on the boards of the Lemont Historical Society and Lemont Public Library District and is a member of the Chicago Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Society of Midland Authors. She speaks locally on a variety of topics and writes a blog that features unique history stories. Visit her at www.patcamallierebooks.com.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N
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