A novel blending fiction with fact, this story of the unsolved derailing of a train in the Arizona desert is full of surprises.
Many of the central characters are the author’s creations, and they’re constructed with compassion, objectivity, and empathy. To get inside the heads of such diverse people takes some skill and observational powers. Anne Montgomery does it with apparent ease.
Fictionalising actual events is difficult, and fraught with potential problems, but the author has managed to balance these well. There are passages that read like reports, dealing mostly with factual aspects. The rest of the novel is well written as fiction, taking the reader on an involving journey full of tension.
A passionate agnostic, I generally find Biblical (and all other ‘sacred’ text) quotes irritating. Here, however, they have real context and provide insights into the minds of the characters using them. And because no judgment is made, no attempt at preaching, the reader is able to form his/her own opinions on what is truly right and wrong.
The event on which this story is based remains as an unsolved mystery. The author constructs an entirely credible narrative based on what is known. Her attention to detail is occasionally a little overdone for my taste, but the landscape and settings are described in engaging language that brings them alive. I feel I’ve visited the Arizona desert.
Such a mix of characters here, too. From peaceful end-timers awaiting the ‘second coming’ through down-to-earth policemen and media presenters, to the pregnant teenage girl with her deformity and the Vietnam vet with his haunted past, all are brought to life through the skill of the writer.
This is an engaging book with a story that builds slowly, answering some questions along the way, and ending in a denouement full of tension and drama. A very good read.
I wrote this review based on copy of the book sent by the author with no obligation.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]