Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra
Description Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra
“A terrible thing to happen,” Toshi says, returning the photo to the TV. “To your mother!” He blows a smoke ring and looks up at the ceiling reflectively. I know what he’s thinking. He couldn’t bear anything like that happening to his own mother. To Okaasan.”
Dead reckoning has an interesting plotline, filled with some nasty characters and downright obnoxious ones. Toshi falls in the last category. A hateful character with all the trimmings of an arrogant and self-absorbed man. The day he made his final choice I was happy.
When Gilly returns to her hometown after three years of absences, for her mother’s funeral the undercurrents immediately turned. Leaving murky and very deceptive waters.
Her mother’s neglected house laid the foundation for the dramatic plot and Toshi as antagonistic as they come. The only time he had something positive to say or think was when money came into the picture. How they ever got married is beyond me.
Her two brothers were quite a pair and the typical sibling rivalry can be seen as each carries his own weight. Losing their mother left them in uncertain waters and the father is non-existent. Even though they mentioned him quite a bid, he never became part of the plot. Which just showed how big the gap really was between the children and their father.
The relationship between Gilly and Sally were a thin thread with so many nuances within that I wondered what on earth kept it together. But at the end, this relationship proved to be a solid investment to both Sally and Gilly. Both of them had to come to grips with the events in 1984, both had to make do with the choices handed to them.
“Sally leaps up. “God, now it all comes back to me,” she says. Her face is white, and I notice she’s trembling. “That day! I called you, Gilly, angry because we’d arranged to meet at Mabel’s and you never turned up.” I feel myself going pale as I remember, too. The awful coincidence. Mom had her accident the day after we’d found Cassie.”
The story is divided into two parts, the present, and what happened twenty-six years ago. Each chapter gives you a deeper look the inner workings of Gillian while she battle to stay afloat in the present. The impact of that one innocent event cause the snowball effect and Gilly and Sally was right in the middle of it.
When Sally’s daughter was kidnapped, the stage was set, and the nasty characters came out to play.
Again, Gilly had to put the mouse persona away to really grow as a woman. All her life, she was ridiculed because of this. Even though the events back in 1984 should have added to her character, it became a place of hiding. Not being true to who she was left its mark on her and her present life. This was clear to see through Toshi’s attitude. But when everything came together, it was beautiful to watch how the strong version of Gillian stepped to the forefront and she kept it upright till the end of the book.
What I didn’t like about the book:
I found the plotline dragged out, the point of the story only coming together around halfway in the book. From there, all the puzzle pieces began to interlock and suspense showed its head in quick succession.
There was too much dialogue with no real purpose that slowed the story.
The sexual scenes were flat and not believable.
Otherwise, a good dramatic story I can recommend.
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From Chapter One: 804 words
It was a bright, hot day. Sally wanted to play in the town cemetery. She had run ahead, her dog Fluffy at her heels, and left me to pull the little red wagon she trailed everywhere to fill with any treasure she might find. I walked slowly through the long grass, peering down, feeling sweat trickling down my back. I didn’t want to step on a grave. I hated thinking what was in one of those mounds.
Sally was far ahead because she didn’t care about stepping on graves and wasn’t towing a wagon. She turned and jeered at me.
“Fraidy cat!” she shouted, the late afternoon sun lighting up her fiery red hair. “No, not a cat! You’re a mouse! Squeak, squeak, little mouse!”
She laughed and ran on, zigzagging between the graves, her hair cascading down her back, the little brown spaniel just behind her.
I scowled and stomped my next step without even looking, startling an enormous grasshopper that flew directly into my face. I squealed and hopped backward, windmilling my arms as I tried to keep my balance.
“Squeak squeak!” Sally yelled.
“I did not squeak!” I yelled back, but then I felt a little tickle on my arm.
I looked down and saw a daddy long legs the size of a fist crawling toward the sleeve of my T-shirt.
I flailed my arms and drew in a breath to shriek. Then I fell flat on my butt in the tall grass, just next to the red wagon. My scream came out as a quiet oof.
I looked and saw the grasshopper had ended up on top of a pink gravestone and the daddy long legs was god knew where.
That’s when I realized my left hand was touching something. I parted the grass and saw a small box wrapped in brown paper and tied with a green ribbon.
Sally was still laughing. “Little Mouse. Scared of a bug!” she shouted. As I reached down to open the lid of the box, she took off one of her flip flops and threw it at me. The flipflop landed beside me.
I picked up the box. It was heavier than I’d expected. Something weighty shifted inside.
I looked up to see Sally’s wide-eyed stare. her mouth dropping open. “Wha—wha—what’s that?” she shouted. She took off her other flipflop and carried it as she ran toward me.
I tightened my grip. “It’s a present,” I said. “For me!” But Sally knelt beside me and grabbed the box. She untied the ribbon and took off the paper, saying, “What is it?” “It’s mine,” I muttered. “Finders keepers.”
I leaned forward for a better look when the paper and ribbon lay on the grass. It was a black cardboard shoebox with the name Calhoun’s picked out in gilt lettering on the lid. Sally opened the lid, looked inside, and just froze. Time stood still. Her face turned a ghostly white. She shoved the lid back on and pushed the box toward me. I was surprised at her reaction. I’d been thinking the box must hold something like pretty pebbles or maybe a pack of Uno cards or even some cheap jewelry. Someone’s cast offs or rubbish but potential treasure for Sally and me. I gasped when I lifted the lid and saw a tiny pale form inside, wrapped in a white cloth.
It had a pretty face and a soft fuzz of blonde hair that reminded me of Cassandra. “A doll!” I beamed at Sally. She shook her head slowly, still in shock. I looked inside again. “Shit!” I threw the lid and scooted away on my butt, my hands grabbing at the long grass to help me along. It wasn’t a doll. It was a baby. Perfectly still. It could have been sleeping, but it wasn’t. Its glassy unblinking eyes had stared out at me. And it looked cold. I hadn’t touched it, but I could just sense there was no warmth of life in that delicate form.
“Jesus, girl,” Sally said. “When you find something, you find something!”
I shook my head. “Crazy,” I said. It was a hot day, but I began shivering.
I was shocked. I was scared. But I was also curious. Sally stared as I got on my hands and knees and crawled back towards the box. I stretched in a tentative hand and lifted the top fold of cloth. I saw the baby was naked and pink. And that it was a girl. I sniffed. She gave off a faint soapy smell, like she’d been just washed.
I had a sudden longing to touch her. It was instinctive. I wanted to comfort her, to tell her not to be frightened, to say that there must be some mistake and that it would be all right.