Maggie's Image:A Maggie McGill Mystery by Sharon Burch Toner
Published by: CreateSpace
Trade paperback, 200 pages
Maggie McGill, a psychotherapist living in Florida, visits her 30-something daughter, Allie, in California. She is looking forward to a couple of uneventful weeks of vacation with her daughter. Almost immediately upon deplaning, curious coincidences begin to occur. Observant Maggie notes the presence of several sinister dark-skinned, turbaned, Arab-looking men and wonders about it. Unexplained falling rocks threaten Maggie as she sits on a bench; the wife of a French tourist who was on the same plane as Maggie disappears. Later, while in an art gallery a stranger warns Maggie to "stay out of things that do not concern you. Give us the picture. Forget the French couple. Go home. You have been warned." Huh? Maggie and Allie have no idea what that means. Allie's beautiful house overlooking the sea is broken into and trashed - obviously someone is looking for something. Enter Harry Cavanagh of the CIA, who was also on Maggie's plane. And the mystery intensifies! Then, Maggie and Allie are abducted, thrown into a dark room with another occupant named Mohammed Hadi El Kabir, a Sufi mystic (another dark-skinned man, but a "good guy", this time). He guides them through their ordeal as he philosophically reassures them that they will be freed in Allah's own time. All is resolved by the story's end. Though this is a fast-paced light-hearted novel, the mystery at the heart of the story is serious as it deals with current themes in international news.
I liked the creative plot and the rounded-out characters of Maggie and Allie. Both are strong, sensible, independent, resourceful women. I especially enjoyed the author's description of the close, supportive relationship between Maggie and Allie as they confront and try to deal with the frightening events swirling around them. Add into the mix a couple of handsome men and the stage is set for romance also. And what better background to these events than warm, sunny California, replete with sun, sand, ocean, and eucalyptus trees. If you've ever been to California you will recognize the author's description of the coastline from Monterey to Big Sur!
I highly recommend this delightful, first-of-a-series book.