Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Drawing Conclusions -- A Freegan Mystery

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book, DRAWING CONCLUSIONS, in exchange for my honest review.

Have you ever gone dumpster diving? As children, my best friend and I used to accompany a man in our neighborhood on outings (the rest of the story isn't pretty, but we're not going there). Sometimes we'd go for drives in the country. Sometimes we'd go ice skating at the dam. And sometimes, we'd case out the dump for 'treasures' to take back to our clubhouse (located underneath our neighbor's porch). I guess, in some ways, we were Freegans way back in the 60s. 

Today's Freegans attempt to live their lives by not paying for much of anything. They're different than 'freeloaders,' however, in that they're not a burden to anyone. It's just that when they're hungry, they either head out to their gardens to harvest some produce, or they head to the closest dumpster and 'feast' on discarded food. In today's society of wastefulness, finding a good meal isn't as difficult as you may think. Much of the food is still nicely wrapped and fresh, but for one reason or another, is of no use to a restaurant or grocery store.

I 'met' Freegan, CeCe Prentice on page one of the mystery novel, DRAWING CONCLUSIONS, as she and housemate, Charlie, were dumpster diving. They suited up with surgical gloves and hopped into a dumpster behind a catering business. 

"Good stuff," I [CeCe] said, passing a drippy egg carton to Charlie. "A few are broken but I can scramble and freeze them raw." A surge of adrenalin pumped toward my heart as I reached down into a pile of nearly fresh vegetables. It amazed me that after all these years of foraging for discarded food, I still got high out of the hunt. This was a quality I shared with others in the Freegan movement. Freegans aren't necessarily poor or destitute; they simply dislike waste. I was willing to ignore the seeping smell of rot accelerated by the warming spring weather if the food could be put to good use. 

"There's got to be ten pounds of bacon still in the wrapper. Prep the cooler."

Not having studied the lifestyles of Freegans, I was intrigued and had to keep reading. CeCe and her four housemates share a house with a large backyard garden and as much free 'stuff' as they can find. CeCe herself is an artist and has set up her studio in the attic. While her twin brother, Teddy, does not condemn her choices, neither does he subscribe to them. However, he is the only member of her family who continues to have a relationship with her. That is, until the end of chapter one, when Teddy is found dead in his office at the Sound View labs, a prominent business owned by CeCe's and Teddy's father, Dr. William Prentice, founder and lead scientist of the company. Sound View Laboratories was "the central clearing house for all things DNA in the United States and around the globe. It was the home of the double helix, the national genome project, and a slew of other international scientific studies." A prominent scientist, his prodigy son, and a dumpster-diving disgrace of a daughter. Interesting concept.

The rest of the book focuses on solving the mystery of Teddy's death, with CeCe striving to avoid the same fate. Woven into the pages are family dynamics, romance, and some unexpected twists and turns.

Green Grandma community member, Deirdre Verne, has created unique characters whom you quickly develop a strong like or dislike for, often finding yourself wondering which of them is worthy of your trust. A part of me envied the life lived at Harbor House with the group of Freegans, wishing I could be a part of them as they cared for the earth and each other. And isn't that what makes a book worth reading? When you find yourself wanting to be part of the cast of characters who weave a story not easily forgotten. I'm actually waiting for CeCe and her friends to work their way into my dreams.

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS is Verne's debut novel in The Sketch in Crime mystery series and worthy of plenty of attention. I'm expecting it to rise to the top of mysteries available on Amazon. Published by Midnight Ink, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., the book did not let me down. As I ended each chapter, I was eager to move on to the next, and I'm confident you will be, too.

A novel combining our love for green living and a good mystery... who could ask for anything more?

Reviewing it for you,

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