The Sequel, by Jeffrey Deaver

Eight stars

Needing a quick short story to end a day of reading, I turned to this Jeffrey Deaver piece, as it sounds quite intriguing. It did not let me down and had me rushing to finish it in a single sitting. Frederick Lowell has spent years managing the estate of one of America’s greatest authors. When Edward Goodwin penned his only novel, the country stood up and took notice, turning him into a hero overnight. Lowell receives a redacted letter indicating that there may be a sequel published before Goodwin’s death, the fallout could be monumental. It would not only quell the rumours of such a manuscript, but could help a new generation of American readers to fall in love with Goodwin again. Lowell follows some of the breadcrumbs left for him, discovering some interesting aspects of Goodwin’s life and writing style, all while the next generation of Goodwins await their royalty cheques. What Lowell discovers shocks not only him, but those around him, as it is a game of cat and mouse to locate and substantiate this apparent manuscript that could be invaluable. Deaver is full of wonderful ideas in this piece and he had me glad that I took the time. Recommended for those who enjoy a little dry wit in their short stories.

I admit that I have not read much Deaver in my life, but this piece has me wondering if I ought to change that soon. The story, while not out of this world, was compelling and had me hooked throughout. Frederick Lowell is a believable character and one whose ideals and curiosity trump his search for the almighty dollar. Others who pepper this short piece make enough of an impact to guide the story along and keep things light when they need not sink too deep in a quagmire of repetitive information. The story was well crafted and, truth be told, I could not help but supplant the Harper Lee connection within these pages. While I am not entirely sure if Deaver had a particular individual in mind for this piece, but Lee’s name kept surfacing, even if her life was anything but on par with that of Edward Goodwin. I’ll keep my eye out for more by Deaver and more generally the Mulholland Books collection, which is the collection that permitted this piece to flourish.

Kudos, Mr. Deaver, for a great effort. I may have to find more of your work and dive in, if it is anything like this short piece.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: