Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Souviens by Local Author Barbara Darling Saxena

     "Souviens" by local author Barbara Darling Saxena (2 Moon Press, $13.99) is an unusual paperback debut novel that's mostly set in the Lansing area.

     It's a compelling tale that spans decades, alternating chapters that are set in the 1930's and contemporary times.

     A major plot element involves the horrendous Kern Hotel fire of Dec. 11, 1934 in downtown Lansing that claimed the lives of 34 people, including five that were never identified.

     Dr. Dakota Graham has been having nightmares and flashbacks about a fire since she was a child. She gets an unexpected financial windfall and decides to investigate why she was chosen to receive the unusual bequest.

Kerns Hotel Fire, 1934
(photo courtesy Capital Area Library)
     Scenes that are set in the 1930's focus on the relationships of pretty 24-year-old Grace Dunning. She works at the new Bank of Lansing downtown and wants to be a doctor, but faces many challenges.

     Graham is introduced to Dr. Theo Everett, an oddball medical researcher who is out to prove his theory that the experiences of parents can alter the genetic expression of their offspring.

     Dunning is witness to the terrible fire and is actually injured by falling debris; her life is permanently altered by the results of the tragedy.

     The carefully researched, complex thriller is full of intriguing plot twists, with well-developed characters and many unexpected revelations.

     The author deftly uses Lansing area businesses, landmarks and events in her descriptions, adding a nice local touch.

     Saxena, who graduated from Waverly High School, is a family practice physician in Grand Ledge.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

Want to read this book?
Get your copy at Curious, a locally-owned independent business!

307 East Grand River Avenue, East Lansing

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