Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Rise of the Red Queen (Red Solaris Mystery #2)

Author:  Bourne Morris
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, E-book
ISBN #:  9781943390298
Henery Press
288 Pages
$15.95 Amazon; $2.99 Kindle
December 1, 2015
Five Stars

A beautiful student is missing.  Did she leave on impulse, or was it something more sinister?  When the young woman's grandfather pleads for help, journalism dean Meredith "Red" Solaris agrees to help search for the student, but doesn't know she may have to risk everything to find her.

Worse yet, without solid evidence, Red and Detective Joe Morgan have little basis for investigation.  Murky university politics - and Red's own struggle to keep her job - thwart efforts to find a girl held captive by a man willing to steal what he cannot win.


Meredith "Red" Solaris is the Interim Dean of Journalism at a northern Nevada university, but hopes to become the permanent dean, and to that end is one of three applicants for the job, the other two being Manuel Lorenzo, an old friend; and Victor Watts, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book author and former foreign correspondent.  She knows she's up against tough competition, but is hoping that her accomplishments and achievements in the past year as dean have given her an edge.

Just before she is to leave for an interview with a committee, she is approached by Wynan Congers, a retired deputy police chief from Las Vegas who tells her his granddaughter Jamie is missing.  He tells her that Jamie had no boyfriend and would never just walk away from the school without telling him or her roommate Marilyn, and he's convinced something has happened to her, and asks Red for help.  She, in turn, tells him that she will contact her (boyfriend) Detective Joe Morgan of the Landry police force, and ask him to contact Mr. Congers.

While at an individual interview with one of the committee members, she is asked to join a committee on sexual assault in order to develop a written policy to handle it on campus, and does so, hoping it will up her chances on gaining the promotion to dean; also, to add to her problems, a long-standing feud between two professors is coming to a head, and Red needs to figure out a way to keep the peace between them if she can.

When it becomes apparent that Jamie Congers did not disappear on her own Red realizes that Jamie could indeed be in danger, and she decides to do whatever it takes to bring her home safely, even while Joe is telling her to leave it to him.  Red knows from past experience that time is of the essence in finding Jamie, and even though she knows she should leave it to Joe, we know that she won't.

So now we have the plot of a story that stands up very well on its own; a continuation of the first in the series, The Red Queen's Run.  (Don't worry, it can be read as a stand-alone).  I only mention it because Ms. Bourne pulls us into Red's life with such imagery that we almost see the events that are going on as if we were there.

The story begins with Jamie's actions, told in third person, so we know her movements and what is occurring with her; movements that soon bring her to the forefront of the story, and shows how easy it is for one bad (or misguided) decision can be that can change your life.

When we hear Red's story, it is told in first person.  Now some may not like the switching between first and third, but trust me, it works and is a seamless transition.  I say this because while we see Jamie's actions, we hear Red's thoughts.  And that makes all the difference.  While reading, there is a tenseness and edginess to Jamie's emotions, ranging from fear and desperation all the way through to anger.  Hearing Red, we understand her thought processes, and why she responds the way she does to each situation that she is thrust into.

And right now, she is thrust into not only the fact that Jamie is missing, but one of the committee members asks her to serve on a committee herself - one that touches on a darker issue, but a completely relevant one, of sexual assault on campus.  It does not permeate the book with a permanent message, nor does it preach to the reader, as I have found in other books.  However, the university is doing their best to set a written policy; but it seems that every idea is being challenged by one or another of the people on the committee, whether it be Karen Milton, Director of Student Affairs, who must deal with the problem directly; or Shelby Vane, who has a personal stake in the projected policy; and Ezra McCready, the new university provost, who insists on daily meetings and also seems to reject ideas before they can be formulated.

There is also the fairly new relationship between Red and Joe while they are navigating their feelings for each other, becoming more solidified as time goes on, and while this is more mystery than romance, I was not left disappointed.

Unfortunately, there is so much more to this book than I can write about; but I can tell you that there are no dull moments; much like real life, there is something happening all the time, and we are drawn into the events and kept busy while watching to see the outcome.

When we find out Jamie's fate and the decision for Red, along with the rest of those in the book, it is a truly satisfying ending all around, and even though there was much going on - her quest for permanency, the search for Jamie, Red and Joe's relationship, the problems with employees and others, it wasn't confusing at all but rather kept me interested and involved with the characters, and that is the portrayal of a very good book indeed.  Highly recommended.

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