Monday, May 30, 2011

SPIDER WEB by Earlene Fowler

Spider Web by Earlene Fowler is a wonderful book.

Beni Harper and her police chief husband Gabe face a series of sniper attacks on his San Celina police force.

Beni, who is curator of the local folk art museum, works to organize San Celina's first Memory Festival.  The festival is her idea.  It will be an all-day event with booths where people record their memories of San Celina.  Beni hopes the festival will become an annual museum-sponsored activity.

Also, a strange woman comes to town.  Beni thinks the stranger has had some previous relationship with Gabe.

All this sounds routine until the book gets to Gabe’s Vietnam PTSD.  In the midst of his nightmares, Gabe attacks Beni.   

The themes of memory and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder weave through the story.  Gabe’s struggles and the spider web of tales that tie in with those struggles make the book good reading.

The stranger has an especially poignant story.  Her backstory was the real mystery in the book for me.

Sometimes Beni drives me crazy.  She makes up scenarios in her head.  She worries about imagined things, things not likely to happen.  But I guess that’s human nature.  I see that as one of my own failings too.

Except for Beni’s fantasizing, I enjoyed the book a lot.  Fowler is excellent at her craft.  She fills the book with details about San Celina, the Vietnam experience, and so many other things. 

The background of the Memory Festival underlines the two-edged sword of memory.  There are good memories and disturbing memories.  This book deals with both kinds. 

Earlene Fowler also fills this book with wonderful characters.  Beni’s family includes her pleasantly-manipulating grandmother and great-aunt, along with Beni’s father who has set out on an adventure of his own.

Beni's Coffin Star Quilt Guild makes a graveyard quilt to be raffled at the festival.   The Coffin Star Quilt Guild members reside at the local nursing home.  One of them is another memorable character, a WWII army nurse.

This is the first of the Beni Harper books I’ve read.  I expected it to be good but ordinary.  It was several cuts above that.  

We purchased this book from The Mystery Guild.


Anonymous said...

I now have "Spider Web" on hold from the library. I'm 28th in line, so that says something! Am looking forward to reading the book.

Joe Barone said...

As I said, it took me a little while to get into it, but when I did, I enjoyed the book at lot.