Friday, January 16, 2015

Still On Herring Cove Road

Michael Kroft

Just how is life lived one the other side of the freeway?  You know, in those low income apartments filled with one parent households and elderly personages on pensions that don’t quite meet the end of the month?  Those of us who live on the tree lined streets of single family homes with two car garages and two income households seem to see life through a different set of glasses.  Life seems to go along at a little different pace, until we suddenly find ourselves forced into circumstances from being that middle-ish income family to the single income, one parent household with a budget stretched so tight it seems like lace curtains.
Then along comes the aging next door neighbor who has suddenly found himself alone in a big empty house after many years of sharing it with the love of his life….not only does he have a big empty space to knock around in, there is a big empty space in his heart, just as he has retired with no one to share it.  And life brings these two families together…just what mysteries and trouble can an elderly man and a young boy get in to? Plenty.
Still On Herring Cove Road, the second of the two books in the series picks up the story of Av (Avriel) and his young friend Dewey and his pretty and young widowed mother.  After discovering that she can no longer hold on to the house that she and her husband had owned before his death, she moves her and her son to some low income apartments near where she works.  Avriel has a vested interest in the family by this time and still finds he is over at their new apartment any time that Dewey is home, as he continues to supply Lisa with the much needed no cost childcare.  Truly, Lisa and Dewey are supplying Av with the much needed family that he needs and longs for, as he and his wife never had a family.
Just before Lisa and Dewey move, a murdered child is found in their area of the city, and not too far from where they are moving.  The mystery winding through the novel is about the continued string of murders that are happening just a little too close to where Lisa and Dewey are living on Herring Cove Road.  Michael Kroft does a masterful job of maintaining the interest in the mystery, even though the incidence of the murders are well spaced throughout the book.  Having grown up on sleuth novels, I love being able to figure out early on “whodunit”, then spend the rest of the book watching the author spin the tale with the “who”, “what”, “where”, and “how”.   Michael brought this one out of the woodwork and out of left field.  But then, aren’t most child predators someone who we least suspect?
But once again, I loved the story within the story.  I loved the story of the elderly, lonely neighbor who was loved as much by a young boy and his busy single mom for who he was, the “grandfather” figure.  I loved the story of the lonely retired man who saw a sad and over stretched mom and a very sad little boy who needed his love and the bond that grew and developed.  This second story was a wonderful statement of what our society so often does out of necessity in this date and time, and that is to create nuclear family units to take care of emotional and familial needs when our genetic family is no longer there or the distance is so great that they cannot help us with day-to-day living needs.
Hidden between the pages was the story of a young boy having to get on in a new world and environment to which he has never been exposed.  A place where life is a little rougher, the kids a little more ragged around the edges.  And just when you wonder if mom has fed him to the dogs or if Av will be able to watch him from a distance, along comes a friend who is a little rougher, a little ragged around the edges, and has a good heart of gold buried down there somewhere. In all, it is a story about love and caring and love winning out in the end.

I will be interested in seeing where Michael goes with his writing from here.  There is potential depth to his work.  I will definitely give this a good Four Stars.