Saturday, January 22, 2011

'The Sex Club': Small Town Story With Big Time Suspense

Review: THE SEX CLUB (Spellbinder Press 2007)
Author: L.J. Sellers

THE SEX CLUB is (technically) a police procedural in that it is a Detective (Wade) Jackson Mystery and L.J. Sellers follows the police investigation in the book with a remarkable eye for detail. However, the story starts and ends with Kera Kollmorgan, a doctor working for Planned Parenthood in Eugene, Oregon. And the story starts off with a bang – literally – when a bomb goes off at the clinic where Kera works.

Things quickly turn even uglier when Kera becomes the unwitting focus of the unhinged anti-abortionist's deadly assaults AND a girl she's treated for genital warts ends up murdered and stuffed in a Dumpster.

The story follows the two incidents, creating two plotlines, and shifts deftly back and forth between two points of view – Jackson, a single parent with an adolescent daughter and a boatload of guilt about spending insufficient time with her, and Kera, who's suffered more than her share of personal loss in the form of a dead son (who died in Iraq) and estranged husband (who abandoned her).

Sellers builds suspense to the point where it's almost unbearable and weaves the plotlines seamlessly together. It got to the point where I simply couldn't click through the pages on my Kindle fast enough. This book kept me up way past my bedtime to see what would happen next.

The fact that the story is in Eugene is kind of icing on the cake for me, since I'm somewhat familiar with the town and enjoyed reading about it.

Not only that but the subject is timely and exposes the hypocrisy behind those who hide behind religion to justify things like bombing an abortion clinic to save a life. Yeah, right.

Not to mention the blind eye turned toward the "spare the rod, spoil the child" school of thought exposed in the story.

Plus there's the whole notion that kids are such innocents. Not no more. Nope. They notice things. They ask questions. They deserve real answers.

Which isn't to say the whole story is nothing but liberal socio-political discourse. Far from it. In fact, part of what makes it so compelling, are the relationships between the characters. There are, for instance, several police detectives and other law enforcement types on the case. At first, I thought I'd need a scorecard to keep track of the names, but then I got them straight. Evans is the smart and well put-together female cop, Schak (short for Schakowski) is Jackson's old pal, McCray is an older cop who wears corduroy, Sergeant Denise Lammers is their immediate boss, Fouts is an FBI agent, Slonecker is a district attorney, Ainsworth is a medical examiner in Portland, Debbie works as Ainsworth's assistant and Fieldstone is the mayor of Eugene. See! I told you I could do it. :) Then, of course, there are all the parents and their kids, but I'm not going to list all of them. But I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out.

And, of course, our heroes, Jackson and Kera, who may (or may not) develop a budding romance. And there's also an interesting and kind of ironic development involving Kera's son toward the end (no, er, pun intended). I'll say no more. Just read the book. ;)

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