Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review of Healey's Cave

Author: Aaron Paul Lazar
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Genre: Mystery, 264 pages
Publisher's Address: P O Box 3340 Kingsport TN 37664
ISBN number: 978-1-60619-162-0
Price: $16.95 - pre-order now at Barnes and Noble

Publisher website address:
Author’s personal website:
Mystery-writing blog:

When I began to read Healey’s Cave, a new novel by Aaron Paul Lazar, the author and the book immediately captivated me. I was and still am especially intrigued by how the author as artist has drawn his characters. He sketches the relationship of man and wife in soft strokes, like a lovely pen and ink drawing on fine paper. A grandparent taking delight in the love of his grandchildren, is a pastel portrait framed in gold. Childhood friendships drenched in sepia tones are like old photographs in a long forgotten album taken from the shelf. Flowers in a garden, horses long gone from their stalls in a barn, the feel of leaf mold in the hands of a man who loves the earth— are sense memories so strong, that individuals spontaneously manifest themselves in complete fullness upon the page.

The pace of the book from the very beginning also is to my liking. Nothing is rushed. There is no leap headlong into a maze of frantic action nor is there a plunge into needless back-story. There is a gracious and soft unfolding of detail, layer upon layer, as if one were looking at a painting of a lush landscape.

At first we see the truth of things as through the mists of the natural world in early morning. Gradually the early light matures, and forms emerge; moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, the mid-day comes. Characters reveal themselves. The story unfolds.

Sam Moore is a methodical man, used to figuring out mysteries in life by using tried and true principles. He has honed his solid intellect during many years as a physician and isn’t prone to imagining things. He begins the very first day of his retirement from private practice with a degree of certainty that he would eventually like being away from the office, but before the day is over he is not quite sure whether or not he will be able to keep from going crazy.

Sam loves to work in his garden. And now that he has time to spend there, he hopes his love of the soil will soothe and smooth the inevitable feelings of transition he expects to experience. Instead, he begins an adventure of mind, heart and spirit that will shake him to the core of his being.

It all begins with the innocent discovery of a marble in the soft friable earth. One of those big, bright, green glowing cat’s eye marbles kids used to call “shooters”. The marble flashes scenes of his boyhood, flashes of remembrance of his younger brother Billy, who had been so dear, the brother whose disappearance had left behind an unsolved mystery and a hole in Sam Moore’s heart. The marble seemed alive in his hand, glowing and almost hot to the touch, reminding Sam that this, the first day of his retirement, was also the anniversary of his brother’s birth.

…memory flashed through him—brief, but palpable. Billy and he, aged twelve and eleven, had walked barefoot on the hot pavement after a spring rain. Soft tar warmed their feet. Rain puddles sizzled and misted on the road. The boys laughed, then raced home to dinner. Steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and salad. Billy's favorite. Sam checked the date on his watch. May twenty-fourth. Billy turns sixty-one today.

The little boy who slept in the bottom bunk, who breathed hot, sweet breath on his face when they hid in the closet beneath the stairs, who offered his sticky hand during scary movies, and who mysteriously disappeared on his eleventh birthday—would be sixty-one today.

He closed his eyes and let the wind blow across his face. The breeze lifted his hair. Sam felt the cool soft touch brush his leathery skin. He pictured his brother communicating with him from Heaven. He'd often imagined it, and was comforted by the thought.

Had it really been fifty years? Was he hearing his brother speak to him from across the void?

A strange ritualistic serial killer had been targeting young boys every five years since the time of Billy’s disappearance. Could Billy have been one of his victims? Bodies of other young boys had been found. But Billy simply had disappeared without a trace. Questions swirled and whirled in Sam’s mind. Was the killer still alive? Would he strike again? Was his own grandson a potential target?

Aaron Lazar is a master storyteller. The sense of intrigue never dims in this book. As we look over Sam Moore’s shoulder into the fire of the Green Marble, we are drawn with him into an experience of the paranormal, seeing into the unseen worlds he unearths, never to rest until we know the whole truth about what happened to his brother Billy— and to the others.

Though never fond of detective stories or murder mysteries myself, even when written by such greats as PD James, or Agatha Christie, I now must confess that I feel quite compelled to read all of Aaron’s novels. I love a good story. This is one of the most intriguing stories I have read in a very long time.

Healey’s Cave is the first of the Green Marble Mysteries, a riveting paranormal series by Aaron Paul Lazar, which feature our hero Sam Moore; scheduled to be released by Twilight Times Books under the Paladin Timeless Imprint on August 28th 2010, it will soon will be followed by One Potato, Blue Potato in 2011, and For Keeps in 2012. For more information, see:

The LeGarde Mysteries— Double Forté, Upstaged, Tremolo, Mazurka— with hero Gus LeGarde, have long been popular and come highly recommended. Firesong, the newest book in this series, will be coming out later in 2010. For more information, see:

Aaron Paul Lazar tells us that he “writes to soothe his soul.” The author of LeGarde Mysteries & Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York. His characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.

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Natalie Neal Whitefield writes about ranch and family life in the contemporary west. A student of history and in love with the great outdoors, she works alongside her husband, guitar maker Stephen Neal Saqui, on the banks of the Salmon River in the rugged mountains of central Idaho.

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© 2010 Natalie Neal Whitefield

Natalie's bookshelf: read

Healey's CaveThe Hundred DaysThe Rendezvous and Other StoriesTestimoniesMen-of-war: Life in Nelson's NavyThe Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

More of Natalie's books »