Odysseus was a legendary and cunning hero on a journey to find home, and lived by his guile. Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter with an epic aim, living by her wits. Siddhartha traveled on a spiritual quest to find himself, and defined the river by its timelessness‚ÄĒalways changing, always the same. Now, in Bonnie Jo Campbell‚Äôs adventure story, we are introduced to sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, gutsy, feisty survivor who manifests a flawed blend of all three heroes, who lives once and inexorably upon a river.
Physically, 29 year-old Maureen Coughlin is a wisp of a woman, 5‚Äô 4‚ÄĚ tall and 100 pounds. Emotionally, she‚Äôs a powerhouse, a person with acumen, tenacity, and a wild streak just this side of the Serengeti. She works as a waitress, the same job for the last 10 years and she‚Äôs just sick of it. It‚Äôs a nowhere job and she‚Äôs going nowhere. She lives and works on Staten Island in a faux chic bar with the emphasis on ‚Äėfaux‚Äô. She‚Äôs started college and dropped out more than once but she knows that waitressing is not where she wants to find herself down the pike. She lives alone and has no one special in her life except her mother who gives her more trouble than solace.
Young Flavia Sabina de Luce, chemistry whiz, accomplished amateur detective, and sometime drama queen, is back! She says she trying to be a better person, but she still at least thinks rude retorts, forgets to come home for Mrs. Mullet’s strange meals, steals into houses and businesses to collect evidence, opens coffins and peers inside to confirm forensic theories, and gives as good as she gets to her older sisters.
Not a believer that change is entirely for the better in Botswana society, Mma Precious Ramotswe, the ‚Äútraditionally built‚ÄĚ owner of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, has decided that cars are among the biggest agents of change, making people lazy. She has therefore decided to walk the two miles each way to her office, located beside the garage where her husband Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni operates a car repair service. She secretly admits, however, that the real reason she is walking is that her beloved little white van, now twenty-two years old, is making strange noises, and she fears that when Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni hears them that he will decide her little van can no longer be repaired.
It is 1950. At Buckshaw, her family’s old country estate, wronged Flavia de Luce is out for vengeance and poison is her weapon of choice. This eleven-year-old British girl, whose passion is unquestionably “the central science,” has access to a thoroughly outfitted lab, and plenty of plants in the garden from which to distill gleaming liquids of wicked retribution.