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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: FROZEN MOON

My previous post focused on perils faced by booksellers if they open the door indiscriminately to self-published books. It is only fitting that I now introduce a recent outstanding exception that came my way. My mini-review (250 words) of Frozen Moon appears in this week’s Northern Express, but 250 words cannot begin to encompass all I have to say about this book.

It started with an e-mail from a friend of the author:
I read your MI Bookmark in the last issue of Northern Express Weekly and I wondered if you are interested in looking at a couple of books by a friend of mine – David Greenwald. He is a self-published Michigan author who is writing a series of 3 books based on the search and rescue dogs involved in different missions.
As always, I was leery, but -- Michigan author, dog story? The author’s friend closed her message asking if I would be willing to take a look if the books were sent to me. Again, Michigan author, dog story? How could I say no? I wasn’t promising to read an entire book, if it started off badly, much less review or stock it, just “to take a look.” The book arrived. I opened it and began reading....

Frozen Moon: A Jenny-Dog and the Son of Light Novel,
by D. M. Greenwald
Parker, CO: Outskirts Press, 2013
Paper, 263pp, $14.95

“It was the worst damn winter storm the sheriff had ever seen.” So begins Greenwald’s tale of suspense and outdoor survival in the frozen North.

While adult skiers get in one last run for the day, a resort employee is keeping an eye on three young children at play in the snow. A ringing telephone calls her away for a moment, and six-year-old Kelly Martin vanishes. Panic quickly ensues. Did Kelly wander off into the storm, or could she have been kidnapped? Immediate searches of hotel and grounds turn up nothing.

Faced with a lost child and a fast-building storm, Sheriff Sam Hanson calls the State Police to send in dogs, but also, long before the official police dog handler gives up, Hanson has another tracker and his dogs flying in from Wisconsin. From Wisconsin to Vermont, in severe weather conditions, with airports closed? How can Joshua Travis and his dogs possibly get there and find Kelly in time? Even if the little girl is still alive, outdoors alone, in sub-zero temperatures, lost in the blizzard, how long can she be expected to survive? The nail-biting race against clock and storm begins on page one, and the action and suspense never let up.

Greenwald brings convincing detail to passages dealing with flying, driving, dogs, preparation for rescue, and survival’s practical challenges. He doesn’t neglect the thoughts or emotions of his characters, either. Men and women will be equally spellbound from start to finish.

He also knows how to write about winter.
Outside, the cold hit him with a crack. The wind tried to race through his body. The difference between conditions inside and outside the shelter was incredible. The storm raged on. Snow was coming down in sheets, even in the woods. The frozen tree crowns rocked and shook and sometimes shattered, sending giant wooden shards crashing to the ground. These woods were not a safe place to be....
I was so impressed by this book that I wanted a second opinion and asked a friend to take a look. She brought it back the very next morning, saying, “It’s your fault I didn’t get anything done yesterday! I couldn’t stop reading this book!”

Running parallel to the main story line, the rescue, are a couple of sub-narratives featuring characters in other parts of the country. No spoiler here: you'll have to read the book to learn more. I’ll only say there is a mystical element that may not appeal to all readers but will fascinate some. I read quickly through those passages myself; my friend said they added a lot to her enjoyment of the book.

Bottom line? If you pick this book up and start reading, you’ll find it hard to stop for meals. And when you do reach the last page, you’ll want to share it with a friend. It’s that good. I look forward to meeting the author one of these days.


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