I was asked to review The Blue Pen by Lisa Davis ©2009. The book is about a magazine writer, Parker Downes, who when getting in his car to go to work one cold morning surprises a bag lady who has been sleeping in his car. He's very upset obviously but later the more he thinks about it, the more he gets interested in why she's homeless. He assumed all homeless were mentally ill but the run-in with the woman, Cleo, has piqued his curiosity. When he tries to find her again, he gets mugged. He then writes an article for his magazine about finding her in his car and the mugging. After the article is printed, Cleo herself contacts him by climbing up his fire escape and knocking on his window. He invites her in and when he offers her food, a bath, and a clean bed, she agrees to stay with him for a few days and tell him her story. He finds her fascinating but he has to get her to tell him quickly before another reporter steals the story. Another person who has also read his first article is the woman's daughter and she comes looking for the mother she hasn't seen in 20 years. Parker has to decide if he should tell the woman's story and let her return to the streets or try and reunite her with her family.
I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the story. I thought the first couple of chapters which set up the story and focus on the writer were slow going but once the book progressed to the woman's story I found it quite interesting. Most of it was written in the viewpoint of Cleo as she's telling her story to Parker, explaining why she chose to leave her family and live on the streets. All in all, I did enjoy the book.
I have to say a couple of things didn't ring true for me. How did the woman get in his car in the first place? No one living in a city would park on the street and leave their car unlocked. Also, Parker is a writer but has no computer at home because "he didn't want work to consume him." Computers aren't just for work and I think a writer would be more likely to have one than most other people.
I just read what I think is one of Dean Koontz' more interesting stories. It isn't a scary thriller but it is science fiction. It's called One Door Away From Heaven. The first 3 chapters of the book are about very different people and you have to wonder how their lives are going to come together. The first chapter introduces Michelina (Micky) Bellsong, recently released from prison and now living with her widowed aunt until she gets on her feet, and her new trailer park neighbor Leilani Klonk, a handicapped and very precocious 9-year-old. Leilani wants nothing more than to be 'normal' and have a life with normal parents. That's hard to do when your mother is drugged out of her mind most of the time and your step-dad is a murderer who hates deformity of any kind. The step-dad is also obsessed with UFOs and aliens and the family is traveling around in a huge motor home visiting places of supposed alien sightings. They've rented a cheap trailer for a week while the motorhome is being repaired.
The second chapter brings us a young boy running for his life after he witnesses the murder of his mother and others. He's making his way through the hostile night forest trying to stay one step ahead of the killers. He's only 10, with no family or friends, and now, he's alone, afraid, and lost.
Noah Farrel appears in chapter 3. He was a cop but was asked to resign after attacking a wife and child beater. His sister was beaten as a child and suffered permanent brain damage. All his money goes to take care of her nursing home bills. He now makes his living as a private investigator.
You can now see what I mean about the different characters. Any of them alone could make a good story but together it's great. The chapters switch back and forth telling their different stories as they all head for the confrontation at the end. I highly reccommend this book.