David Ryan Long,
Quinlin's Estate
(Bethany House, 2002)

It's a contemporary mystery story about a young undergraduate who is obsessed with an old mansion overshadowing parts of the little town of Lowerton.

The mansion represents a search for a better life, or as local legend maintains, "there's gold on that there estate." Though she's not looking for the gold, Eve is looking for a way to save the mansion from destruction. She refuses to let the search for gold overshadow the need to maintain the history, elegance and unique facets of the old estate, mainly because her father spent his life searching for the elusive gold. Now he lies in a coma, unresponsive to his daughter's needs, as usual.

Eve begins a campaign and meets opposition from community leaders who plan to tear down the estate for development. We feel throughout the book a sinister presence at the estate, a foreboding that all is not well with the place, and perhaps never was though it was owned by a local philanthropist who used his money to give the townspeople employment during its construction.

I enjoyed the premise of the book, I enjoyed meeting Eve, though I felt she was a little unprepared and lost in her motives, and I guess she was as we read in her journal entries. The book is written in journal style though the first 50 pages take you from 2000 to 1999 to 1977, then to 1976, to 1999 to 1927 to 1937 and back to the present or 1999. I was not impressed by her lack of organization in her journal notes and didn't enjoy her entries that rehashed or re-reflected on facts we'd already been told.

If you can get over that and a little condescension (or naivety) on her part, as if she has to explain every move, there's a lot in the story to keep a reader interested: the mansion, the gold, a mysterious death, questions of paternity, economic survival of a rural town and a maze.

I loved the well scene, a rebirth, total immersion into a new awareness even though I wasn't sure of the practical danger involved in such a dive. David Ryan Long has good ideas that make this story intriguing and is full of descriptions that put you right inside the estate. Some of us spend our lives "chasing the wind" for a few fleeting moments of pleasure while others struggle to a higher destiny; the book reveals this question directly as a theme.

I enjoyed the suspense of the story and the wide cast of characters that threw the story around, though Meryl seemed to be the only mature one. You'll enjoy her too, as she really becomes the defining character.

If I was to pinpoint an age that this story is directed to, I would guess young adults in their 20s would appreciate it the most and be able to take lessons from it.

Good dialogue and salient points of mystery carried the story. I would have liked more clarity so it would take less effort on my part when reading the journal entries, but Long does pull together a story that makes you want to keep on reading.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 7 June 2003

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