Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Great Novel by Philip Kraske

I just finished Philip Kraske's novel The Magnificient Mary Anne ( Encompass, 2011) and it is, well, magnificent!
The book tells the tale of a globe-trotting engineer named Hal Dormund who gives some sage advice to a young woman on a flight from New Jersey to Chicago. The listener, one Mary Ann Jaalkov, takes these words of wisdom to heart and years later they lead to a unique love story and thriller.
It took me a while to warm to Hal in his consulting role with the world nuclear power industry but the author skillfully draws in his reader with his prose. The more I read, the more compulsive I found the 176-page novel.
Philip Kraske works hard at his craft, providing just the right details to drive the story along. The plot is well researched, with insights into the world of world finances (and betrayal) and also the high art of flamenco dance. It is an irresistible, if improbable concoction. Even as I write these lines, reflecting on the storyline, I think to myself, "nobody is going to believe me, unless they read it for themselves!" So I entreat you to do so. It is well worth the order.
I should add that in addition to his consummate craftsmanship as a fiction writer, Philip Kraske also is a fine journalist and packs some amazing descriptions into the book. My favorite (though it is hard to choose just one for this review) is when he describes Mary Ann's father, the radical fire-and-brimstone Reverend Jaalkov's fateful visit to Boston where he goes on a gay-bashing rampage in the wrong place:

"... His traveling show had been in Boston the week before and I don't know if Bostonians are inhospitable people or if Jaalkov has simply shot one broadside too many, but they gave him one hell of a welcome. About 600 people--most of them gays and lesbians--turned out on Sunday morning to protest against him, and another one hundred to support him.
One of the hundred--there's always one asshole in a hundred--a thick, gopher-faced guy with huge buck teeth, took offense at the chants of the anti-Jaalkov group, pulled a crowbar and reduced their numbers by ten before he could be gang-tackled. The odd thing was, he got away with it. Before the Boston police could burrow through the melee, a few of the Reverend's fans bundled the assailant into a stationwagon and drove him away at high speed. The police were hopping mad: nobody got the license plate since the front one was missing and the rear one hidden under an open tailgate. Even the crowbar disappeared. ..."

You get the idea. It is a great read and I congratulate the author on another excellent novel. Philip has written about 20 or so book manuscripts and three have been published. Although he started in teen fiction, he has moved seamlessly into adult works.
I recommend this book most enthusiastically.

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