Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter Haven-Athol Dickson

Winter Haven
Athol Dickson
Bethany House, Apr 2008, $18,99
ISBN: 9780764201646

Siggy was fifteen years old when he left home; his sister Vera Gamble blames herself for his disappearance. She believes she suffers from hallucinations, but outgrows them as she got older because she no longer thought of her vanished severely autistic brother who only spoke in biblical quotes. One day while she at work she receives a call that Siggy’s body washed up on the Maine barrier island Winter Haven.

As she approaches the island by boat, the fog that engulfs it gives Winter Haven an eerie appearance. When the constable shows her Siggy’s body, Vera is shocked as he has not aged at all; he still looks like the teen who left home years ago. When she mentions this to the constable, the cop refuses to allow Vera to take the body home. Vera rents a room at a B&B and explores the island. She hears strange thumping noises like an axe splitting wood and sees with her peripheral vision a dark figure who disappears before she can fully focus. In town it rains black stones on her only and she hears hissing sounds that no one else seems to hear. Vera wonders if she is going crazy or is there a logical explanation to the happenings.

WINTER HAVEN is a good old fashion gothic mystery complete with a brooding love interest for Vera even though her landlady warns her against getting involved with him. Vera is a fine character who believes she is ungodly and part crazy. Life on a small island is vividly described especially how the residents thrive on their isolation, which adds to the eerie atmosphere. Fans will enjoy stopping at Winter Haven as long as Athol Dickson guides us.

Harriet Klausner