Tinky’s Review: Kidnapped child and a serial killer subjects in two new fall books

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For The Recorder
Published: 9/9/2016 2:07:47 PM

We have entered the busy season for books, with lots of signings coming up at area booksellers. Each of this week’s books is worthy of an individual review, but I am lumping the two together here to make sure they are both covered before their authors come to the Pioneer Valley.

“The Loss of All Lost Things” is made up of 15 stories by Amina Gautier, an alumna of Northfield Mount Hermon School. Gautier grabs the reader’s attention with her first story, “Lost and Found,” and never lets it go.

“Lost and Found” is told from the perspective of a kidnapped child traveling from one seedy location to another with his abductor, whom the little boy thinks of only as “Thisman.” This young protagonist’s way of dealing with the isolation and abuse he faces is unforgettable.

Not all the stories in the book involve lost children. The protagonists lose money, careers, self-respect, youth and relationships. The book offers tragedy on many scales and in many forms. It is truly gripping, however.

Gautier’s skillful writing makes all her protagonists’ emotions real and relatable. The mood the stories create, as a whole, is dense, rich and haunting.

“Throw Away Girls” is a thriller, the first in a projected series about a television reporter named Jaycee Wilder. Jaycee performs investigative work for a station in Los Angeles. Jaycee’s creator knows her subject matter; author Jennifer Vaughn is an anchor for WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H.

Ambitious and passionate about her work, Jaycee starts to look into what she believes may be the work of a serial killer: the brutal murder of three young women.

The three victims are found in underground sex clubs. These unofficial businesses cater to attractive young people seeking anonymous, sometimes violent, sexual thrills. The three women in question obviously found more violence than they bargained for, however.

Jaycee wants justice for these victims. She also wants to prove to the world and the killer that they were smart, loved human beings who didn’t deserve either their horrible deaths or the label the murderer has given them, “throw away girls.”

Jaycee is likeable, although like many heroines of fiction she is unbelievably careless of her own safety. The book is mostly told from her perspective, though it opens and closes using the point of view of the murderer.

Other characters add to the texture of the book. Jaycee succeeds in making friends with the cop assigned to the murder cases. He suffered a breakdown after his previous case went wrong, and he still bears physical and psychological scars from that experience.

Jaycee’s cameraman and news director help the reader understand the ins and outs of TV news. And Jaycee’s boyfriend provides comic relief. This actor views everything that happens in Jaycee’s investigations through the lens of TV episodes he has seen or worked in. Lovers of thrillers will eat this book up.

Book readings/signings

Amina Gautier will read from “The Loss of All Lost Things” on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. at Amherst Books in Amherst. That book has just won several awards.

Jennifer Vaughn will sign copies of “Throw Away Girls” on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” Visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com


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