The Camera's Eye
by Judith Kirscht

New Libri Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-614-69063-4.
Reviewed by D Ferrara
Posted on 01/28/2018

Fiction: Mystery

Judith Kirscht's latest novel, The Camera's Eye, takes on some big issues—among them, homosexuality, intolerance in the name of religion, and police incompetence. The setting is an island in Puget Sound, with the requisite charming cottage.

Veronica Lorimer is a not-quite-divorced woman who shares a house with her friend, Charlotte McAllister, a retired prosecutor. We learn in the first chapter that Veronica's children and her sister hate her because they believe she left her husband for Charlotte. Apparently, many of their neighbors hate both of the women, blindly, out of "overzealous" religious beliefs. The two women refuse to say they are not lesbians (they are not), which apparently fuels the locals' antipathy. Other people hate Charlotte, too, although those are mostly criminals she has prosecuted.

The women become aware of the animosity when two rocks are hurled through their window in the middle of the night. The local deputy shares in the general bigotry, exhibiting more interest in the women's sleeping arrangement than in catching the miscreant. When the harassment escalates to cat murder, arson, and foul graffiti on their garage door, Veronica and Charlotte set out to discover who is behind it.

They meet a few good folk along the way, Veronica's son-in-law, a fire inspector, a school counselor. They're all a bit pallid next to our heroines, however.

The story has a raft of twists and plot strings which come together perhaps a bit too neatly, but it's a rollicking page turner along the way. One warning: if you are a persnickety reader, there are a few irritations. Veronica refers to Charlotte as being impressive "in the docket." A docket is a schedule or a list, not a place. If Charlotte had been a prosecutor, she wouldn't have represented Veronica in a divorce. Veronica insists she didn't abandon her young children, but she did exactly that, first to an alcoholic, unemployed father, then to her own sister. It strains credulity that a small town police force would post an officer 24/7 to prevent a patient with a broken neck from escaping a hospital room.

If you can overlook such blips, this book that hard to put down. I finished it in one go, and you probably will too.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Born and raised in Chicago, Judith Kirscht received her BA from the University of Chicago. She raised her family in Ann Arbor Michigan and received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won two Hopwood Awards, one for an earlier version of her first published novel, Nowhere Else to Go (Florida Academic Press, 2011). She taught writing for many years at the Universities of Michigan and California, Santa Barbara before moving to Washington State to devote herself to writing fiction. She has published professional articles and a textbook (co-authored), in addition to short stories. Her second novel, The Inheritors (New Libri Press, 2012) was published as an e-book in June, 2012 and in paper in November,2012. Her third novel, Home Fires, was published by New Libri Press in e-book, Oct.13,2013 and in paperback at the end of December, 2013. Home Fires was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl award, given by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association for the best literary fiction published in 2013 and won an honorable mention in the Readers Favorite contest in the general and realistic fiction category. Her latest, Hawkins Lane, was published by New Libri Press in April, 2015 and will come out in paperback later this year.

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