Senestre on Vacation
A Thomas Senestre Mystery by Z. K. Burrus
Review: After police detective Thomas Senestre receives a mysterious letter from someone who claims to be a friend of his Mother asking for his help, he's suspicious … but he has some vacation time coming and doesn't see the harm in following up in Senestre on Vacation, the first mystery in this series by Z. K. Burrus.
Senestre's boss warns him he won't have jurisdiction in the coastal town of Pantego, but Senestre doesn't think that will be a problem. His Mother's friend, Adora Phelps, writes, "Perhaps I am being foolish, but I no longer feel safe at home or at work — I own Coastal Books — a small enterprise, but — as I have always maintained — one of vital importance to our community. I feel as if someone is watching me all the time — and not with loving intent." Senestre's reasoning is that someone who writes with so many dashes hasn't quite sorted out their priorities, which suggests to him the matter isn't all that serious. That, in retrospect, was probably not a wise assessment of the situation ...
Senestre on Vacation is an unusual book, and one not all that easy to read at times. Senestre is a conflicted character — he really isn't a people person, doesn't care for material things, has a fear of closed spaces and spends more hours during the night awake than asleep … and has issues with his Mother — and much of the narrative style reflects this. The sentences are choppy, often just fragments of a few words, and there's a fair amount of discontinuity between one paragraph (or set of paragraphs) and the next … almost as if the book is written as a stream of consciousness with various thoughts competing for Senestre's — and the reader's — attention. This serves to enhance the plot in unexpected ways, almost certainly more so than had the author taken a more traditional approach to the storyline. The following is a not atypical scene from the book, with Senestre talking to his client, who is accompanied by her friend Celeste, someone he refers to as the "Amazon":
Flutter, flutter went the hands. "Oh, no, no. There'd be no reason for that. This is Pantego. We don't lock doors in Pantego."
Certainly true of a considerable portion of Pantego residents. He'd seen evidence of that on his rambles.
But the Amazon's lips had parted.
Preparing to contradict?
Either she should contradict or he should.
Town precedent nothwithstanding, Adora did, on occasion, lock her door. He'd been on the other side of her locked door.
Adora was lying about her locked door policy.
"You suspect you're being stalked, but leave your apartment unlocked. Interesting," he said.
"Stop badgering her! Can't you see she's upset?"
He could see that the Amazon was upset. That he could see. And not only with him.
And this style is probably the most significant factor in determining if readers will be taken with Senestre and his investigation … and return for a second visit, should a sequel be written.
Acknowledgment: Livingston Press provided a trade paperback edition of Senestre on Vacation for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Senestre on Vacation: North Carolina
— ♦ —
Senestre on Vacation by Z. K. Burrus — A Thomas Senestre Mystery
Publisher: Livingston Press
Publication Date: May 2011
List Price: $18.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites