“Everything will be fine.”
On a bit of a vacation, I spent a little time this week with an “everything will be fine” mystery, “The Man With the Green Suitcase” by Dee Doanes. Get it? Vacation? Suitcase?
Doanes weaves together the stories of several people who cross paths with the man with the green suitcase from the title, and their lives are changed for better and for worse. Though elements of the paranormal move the story along, it’s set in Atlanta and grounded in reality (which appeals to the nonfiction fan in me). Her use of language is evocative, describing simple characters and scenes with piercing similes:
- “He shakes hands with a man whose big gold rings on his pinky and ring finger feel like brass knuckles.”
- “Ralph couldn’t be more than thirty, but his face is hard and rough, like it had been dragged on a sidewalk.”
- “He sits down stiffly, like he’s waiting in a doctor’s office.”
The beauty of the language (“he ages before Gerald’s eyes like dawn creeping into morning” — isn’t that lovely?) carries to the story itself, a story about forgiveness and redemption. Plus, any book with a character who plays Scrabble is a book for me!
I was fascinated by the use of present tense throughout, which is tricky to pull off successfully. The use of present tense effectively creates closeness with the reader. Though time transitions were sometimes cumbersome (“then,” “later”), the writing was vivid and evoked a sense of immediacy. The more I read, the more hooked I became (don’t look for a tidy ending however).
Like me, Doanes is an independent author, too, and I appreciated one of the lessons of her book was similar to mine:
“A big secret is a big burden.”