Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today is Patry Francis's Day. She's undergone chemo for an aggressive form of cancer, and is battling hard. The prognosis is good, thank God.
More than 300 authors and literary industry folks are devoting today to promote Patry's fantastic book. See my review, below.

Title: The Liar’s DiaryAuthor: Patry Francis
Publisher: Dutton
Publisher's Address: 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN-10: 0525949909
ISBN-13: 978-0525949909
Price: $16.47
Publisher phone number and/or website address: http://www.penguin.com/
Author’s website: http://www.patryfrancis.com/index2.htm
Author’s blog: http://simplywait.blogspot.com/

The Liar’s Diary

by Patry Francis
Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

The Liar’s Diary, a psychological suspense novel by debut author Patry Francis, should be tooled in fragrant red leather with gilt edges, and placed on your bookshelf in a place of honor.

Be forewarned. When you buy it, allow for an uninterrupted block of time. Forget sleep. The lure of The Liar’s Diary is strong, for it will call your name incessantly, and your dreams will be filled with Ms. Francis’s characters long after you’ve reached the end of this riveting new work.

Full of subtle, twisting truths that bob and weave in a surf of lies, The Liar’s Diary is like a fragile raft on a swelling sea of denial. Carefully selected truths are masterfully revealed as we are thrust into the life of high school secretary Jeanne Cross. The raft soars higher – just enough to almost peer over the whitecaps. Jeanne glimpses half-truths so disturbing she retreats into the safety of her compulsively ordered life. Disoriented and in psychological turmoil, we twist and weave in yet another direction beside her, constantly on edge and guessing until the final page.

Jeanne strives to be the dutiful wife, mother, housekeeper, nurturer, and employee. But we quickly learn her perfect life is built on a severely cracked foundation. Gavin Cross, the debonair doctor husband, is a controlling father who bullies his son, feeding an explosive eating disorder that sends Jamie Cross to chocolate for relief. Scenarios of mockery escalate, with full blame for Jamie’s lack of academic success laid squarely at Jeanne’s feet. In her picture perfect house, we soon discover a supremely unhappy woman who lives in suburban hell, trying to defend her beloved son and keep peace in the dysfunctional family.

Enter Ali Mather, the new music teacher at Jeanne’s school who flounces into Jeanne’s staid world of responsibility with flowing strawberry blond hair, fragrant perfumes, and tight jeans, enticing the high school boys and male teachers, and providing hours of juicy gossip for the rest of the staff. Ali, flamboyant, passionate, and unabashedly sexy, is the antithesis of sedate, controlled Jeanne. Yet, through a circumstance not fully understood, Jeanne is drawn to Ali like a powerful narcotic.

Ali, married to George Mather, a most perfect husband, has issues of her own. Unresolved childhood traumas send her into the arms of two men in Jeanne’s town, shocking the quiet community. George, strangely forgiving and still madly in love with his philandering wife, cuts a figure of loving forgiveness. As Ali embraces her hedonistic experiences, including an affair with the school shop teacher half her age, Jeanne reacts with simultaneous repulsion and fascination.

But someone is stalking Ali, entering her home and leaving subtle reminders of their presence. Is it one of her lovers? A student? A jealous wife? Her music is desecrated, personal items disappear, but the police don’t take her seriously. Jeanne struggles to help her friend overcome her fears and abandoned relationships, just when Ali’s diary disappears and people start to die.

The story twists into another realm, shocking the reader multiple times, surging higher now with dark half-truths. Jeanne’s son is accused of ungodly crimes, and it’s up to her to uncover the facts. She must discover who’s lying, in order to save her son.

Patry Francis is a gifted deep thinker who knows people and paints them well.
Her writing style is engaging and smooth going down – like a big bowl of lime sherbet. First time novelists often try too hard, peppering their prose with ostentatious adverbs and adjectives. But Ms. Francis’s writing focuses on the compelling story as the movie plays in your head with a clever appreciation of the craft.

I highly recommend The Liar’s Diary to anyone who enjoys a good suspense, mystery, or psychological thriller.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thank you to everyone who voted for Tremolo: cry of the loon, in the mystery category. We placed #7, in the top ten!

Thanks again!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Tombstones ands Toes

Hello friends,

I hope your holidays were splendid and that if you are writers, you were able to write glorious pages of prose or poetry to satisfy that deep craving in your writers' soul.

Over the holidays I was blessed. In between the two hiccups at the ER that were all (thankfully) resolved and the stomach bug that layed us low for days - there were long hours of pure bliss. Among other things, like enjoying the whole family (daughter Melanie joined us, with her dog, Toby ;o)) playing with my grandsons, cooking feasts, playing Scrabble by the fire, and finishing the final polishes on my next two books (Mazurka and Healey's Cave), I was able to enjoy many long walks in the cold refreshing air of Upstate New York.

Walking has been a great stress release and my recent passion over the past years, especially since I got over my summer-long bout with asthma, and since my mother-in-law's recent heart attack. I'm resolved to continue the walks and eat even more fresh veggies and fruit to help my heart stay healthy. I have a lot of people that depend on me, so I need to work hard to assure a healthy body. Of course I take the camera with me each time, and even if there are no perfect photo ops on the walk, I'm ready!

We'd recently been avoiding the Greenway and much of Letchworth State Park because of hunting season. When the snow got too deep for hiking, we were able to do some great cross country skiing, that is, until the warmer weather ruined all the trails. But over the Christmas/New Years holiday we stuck close to home and walked local country roads.
I walked four miles round trip to the local graveyard on several days, looking for the headstone of the man who built my antique home in 1811. The old place needs tons of work, but I've always been fascinated with the idea of Dr. John and Mary Hunt, the first occupants of my home.

Doctor Hunt lived to be 91 - but some of his grandaughters died young, like poor little Deborah (1 year old) and Nancy (20 years old.)

We did have a few frosty mornings with fresh snow. Here are some shots of sugar coated thistles.

Gordie and Julian (my 4 and 5 year old grandsons) were excellent companions over the eleven days of freedom I enjoyed. Here's a photo Gordie took of me (he LOVES photography!), and one I took of him.

Yours, truly.


See the little smudges on his cheeks? He tried to wash them off, but it didn't work too well. ;o)
After most of the week passed, I started to notice severe pain in my left foot (where the fourth toe from the right meets the joint) and a heel spur reactivated after ten years on my right foot. I'd been ignoring the pain in the left foot for months, hoping to God it would just heal on its own. Most of the time, especially at work on the concrete floors, I'd walk with my leather Clark's and it would sound like this: Ow, step. Ow, step. Ow, step. Now, with the new heel spur, it sounds like Ow, Ow. Ow, Ow. Ow, Ow.

I finally got to the doctor, who educated me. Big time. He told me one needs to change walking shoes every 300 miles. Did you ever hear that?? I hadn't. Seemed pretty extravagent, but then I started researching it and found that sneakers do lose their ability to support your feet after so many steps. He XRayed the left foot for stress fractures or a bone bruise (I didn't hear back yesterday, so I assumed it was okay), and told me to buy new sneakers and not to stop walking! Man, was I glad to hear that. I truly feared being laid up and not being able to have those soul cleansing expeditions.

But today, the Saturday after New Years Day, Allison and I walked the Greenway for the first time in months. It was a little snowy, but beautiful. The sun rose, then gave way to clouds. But we walked for two hours, about five and a half miles. Sure, the feet hurt a bit when I was done, but we got outside, were able to breathe fresh, clean air, and talked up a storm in the process. Those bonding times with my daughter are special to me, and I'm so glad I didn't have to stop. ;o)

Before I go, here is a photo of Hunt Hill Road, a few minutes from my house and named for the man who built our home in 1811.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay in touch!

- Aaron