Poison Oak Summer
by AK Dawson
Review: Eighteen-year-old Lucy from the UK has signed on as a counselor for a youth camp in California when, on her first day there, she discovers the body of a dead boy in a nearby river in Poison Oak Summer, the first part of a trilogy by AK Dawson.
Lucy attempts to catch the body, but the current is too strong, the boy disappearing over a small falls into the lower part of the river. She returns to the camp to report what she has seen, but Steve, Super Steve to his friends, the camp director, doesn't believe her. She pleads with him to call the authorities, but she doubts he will. Considering that maybe it was simply a hallucination from jet lag, she puts it all out of her mind as her fellow counselors from the around the world start to arrive. They are a diverse group, and Lucy doesn't seem to quite fit in though she puts on her game face, as it were. She thinks that maybe this will be a fun summer after all when the youths start to arrive … and one of them looks just like the boy she saw in the river, right down the jersey he's wearing.
Poison Oak Summer might be considered the setup to this story. Running roughly 100 pages, it sets the stage, introducing characters and providing a backdrop to the action, but in the end merely hints at more to come. As such, it works and works well. There are numerous hints early on as to the reality behind Lucy's personal situation and her experiences at the camp, and it is actually gratifying to see them play out as expected by the final chapter. In this respect, the author is playing fair with the reader, always a welcome touch.
But at some level one has to wonder why the story was divided into three parts. (This review does not cover the final two parts.) To be sure, it's not as if this might be an unusual concept; serialized novels and other forms of entertainment have been around forever. Maybe it's the sense of anticipation of what happens next. And, no doubt about it, there is that. Though most readers will have guessed well before at what Lucy herself only learns at the end, it's not clear where that new found knowledge will take her. And that's a very good reason to move on to part two.
Acknowledgment: the author provided a copy of Poison Oak Summer for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Poison Oak Summer: California
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Poison Oak Summer by AK Dawson
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $0.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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