Back in May I had bragged on a Milwaukee-area writer named Lesley Kagen and her book, Whistling in the Dark.

Now I can do the same for her second effort, Land of a Hundred Wonders.  Kagen is one of those authors whose narrative voice is so solid that they make a very complex offering seem like it would have flowed from her pen like a conversation.

Her main character this time around is Gibby McGraw, a twenty year old woman in Cray Ridge, Kentucky, who is brain damaged from a car accident.  I’m sorry–the politically correct term is NQR (Not Quite Right).  Gibby is on a mission to become QR and live up to the expectations of her dead mother.  Gibby lives with her Grandfather, works his diner, writes a local gossip newspaper, and lives her life according to the principles of The Importance of Perception in Meticulous Investigation, a book her grandfather gave her when she got out of the hospital to stimulate her brain.

As it turns out, it is a wise choice for reading when Gibby discovers a dead body.  After two shootings (0ne funny, one not), a race riot and dump fire, a manhunt and the re-discovery of love, all is settled in this book.

The book will work for book discussion groups because it manages to use a delightful narrative voice, a witty sense of humor, an intriguing plot and a challenging style to bring it all off.  Plenty of issues are raise to keep a group talking all night long.



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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