The Girl with Wings ペーパーバック – 2016/5/2
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From the author of Discovering the Body (“…a book so sure-handed and graceful that you might forget it’s a murder mystery…” New York Times Book Review), comes a suspenseful story of doubt, delusion and fierce loyalty.Linda Garbo’s good friend Esther, a voice actress, has a remarkable flair for accents and dialects, and for creating vivid characters on her local radio show Willing Suspension. Esther has schizophrenia, which for years has been controlled so well that only close friends and family have been aware of her occasional psychotic breaks. But as the story opens, the usually warm and witty Esther is behaving strangely in public; on her live show she maintains character and dialect, but wanders alarmingly off plot.When Esther’s two-month-old granddaughter Gracie is abducted, it is clear that Esther, suffering the effects of her illness, was responsible. She even confesses to the crime. But what about the baby’s mother Annie, who suffers from post-partum depression and has struggled to bond with Gracie? Or the stranger, wearing a shirt with a flying horse design, whose appearance during Gracie’s baptism sent Esther into a rage, driving the “girl with wings” from the church? Evidence confirms Esther as the kidnapper, but blinded by loyalty to her friend, Linda stubbornly insists on trying to prove Esther’s innocence and discovers a complication of Esther’s madness—while exposing treachery and a motive—that is more evil than anyone expected.
After teaching English at Iowa State University for a while, Mary Howard advised art and design students in the College of Design at ISU for seventeen years, which inspired her to write novels with visual artists as main characters. 'The Girl with Wings' is her second suspense novel to feature graphic designer Linda Garbo and the fictional Madison County town of Linden Grove. Mary was named among "Outstanding Writers" in The Pushcart Prize, IX for her short fiction. Parts of this novel were written during a Residency at The Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois. She lives in Ames, Iowa.
The opening sentence forecasts the book's fast pace, and Howard manages to be attentive to disclosing character and relationships while tracing a complex crime and its solution. Six credible suspects emerge along the way. Notable, too, is the novel's realistic affirmation of human nature and of families. In three focal marriages, the partners are good for each other, faithful, and loving to their children. A leit motif has Garbo continuing to seek faith, warily. The realistic portrayal of a schizophrenic woman, Esther, is a quiet tour-de-force here, and the author makes this portrayal integral to the plot: how does one assess and even grasp the testimony of a mind so distressed? Indeed, Howard cleverly makes the evidence of that character crucial to solving the mystery. How it matters and how to understand it are gradually revealed, in a manner fully realistic. As Anthony Horowitz does for his novels and screenplays (e.g., Foyle's War), Howard does research for her fiction, and in this case she consulted a psychiatrist about schizophrenia, in order to present Esther's condition accurately and sympathetically.
A joy of The Girl with Wings is savoring Howard's evocative description. Deftly she creates an artist's capturing a portrait in sketch (pp. 30, 151), the "mirage-like" image in a subtle form of print-making (p. 70), and the visual effects of being in shock (pp. 107-09), for instance. After tension-filled experiences, the key characters, and the reader, arrive in the final chapter, having jumped ahead past the conviction of the criminal to a life that is now tranquil, suddenly in the present tense, with difficulties yet to face, but with the happiness of knowing that much is good and that even more may yet be healed. Strongly recommended.