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CALL HER SABINE

A mystery of differing impressions

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Oct 13, 2013: I was intrigued to see Wildbow’s review of this novel, as I had recently finished reading it myself. Thus, I formed my impression of the story independent of Wildbow’s review. In short, the rating I planned to give the story was much higher, simply because I did not find it the tough slog that he did. I can honestly say I read this online novel non-stop for hours and I was not forcing myself to do so. So the story did succeed in grabbing and fascinating me, and the interesting question is why?

This is the story of a detective’s efforts to find a missing college student. It wasn’t so hard to guess who the kidnapper probably was, although some red herrings were thrown out. The mystery I kept reading to find out, was how the detective would figure it out. There really were no clues whatsoever. That he even kept on the case, is a manifestation of Calvin Coolidge’s quote "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence".

However, if the journey along the way had been wholly uninteresting to me, I guess I would have lost interest in Deputy Carter’s efforts and Charlie’s plight. I enjoyed the descriptions of the various eccentric characters Carter interviews in the course of his investigation. I went along with the flow of a deputy’s life in small town Missouri. Many of the incidents that are related do not in fact turn out to be relevant to the case that is at the centre of the plot, although you do not know this at the time. The story is sprawling, yes. In part this makes it more realistic, as you don’t know what is a Chekhov’s gun and what is just a slice of life or a unrelated mini-mystery off to the side. On the other hand, some of the details will be of more interest to readers who have read one or more of Simmon’s other novels about Richard Carter and his family. Even though I have, I’d forgotten details, and, for example, references to Shane and the canoe rental business came out of the blue for me. But the gist of it is that Deputy Richard Carter has a lot of past that he’s still dealing with.

The sections from the point of view of Charlie, the kidnapped college student, are eerie and put me in mind of recent news events such as Ariel Castro’s crimes. Imprisoned without direct knowledge of her kidnapper and his intentions for her, she alternates between terror and determination. Since this is a mystery, I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I will try to be very oblique in what I say next, but if you are worried stop reading now . . .  . . .  . . . ..Still with me? There is a way she could have turned out to be more of an agent in solving her own mystery, and partly I wish it had turned out that way, but the randomness of the manner in which the turning point is reached may actually reflect reality more . . . .in any case like Amanda Berry she turns out to be far from a passive victim.

While I acknowledge the plot is rambling, although I think that works for it more than not, why did the elements of style that Wildbow points out not bother me? That, my friends, is another mystery. I actually found the sentence he quotes quite amusing, and its somewhat convoluted nature added to the humour. Does "Call Her Sabine" add anything new to the detective-mystery-suspense genre? Not especially, except perhaps in the setting and characters. Long story short, I liked it, Wildbow did not, you will have to decide for yourselves 😉

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