by Deborah Reed
Right after the Boston Marathon bombing, I read a short news clip on Facebook, about a man who had a one-night stand and then got stuck in the woman’s apartment for days because the police were telling everyone to stay put. And the guy is tweeting about it.
I shared the posting with my husband Greg saying, “Imagine.”
Author (and new Manzanita resident) Deborah Reed happened to see that same news clip. Only she really did imagine, fully fleshing the idea out into a novel based on that scenario. Olivay, Reed’s fifth novel (including two thrillers under the pen name of Audrey Brown), just released July 7, 2015 with her book launch party at Cloud & Leaf bookstore in Manzanita.
Reed moved the venue of her story to Los Angeles. She tells the story from two perspectives.
Olivay, widowed for a year and sleepwalking through life, meets Henry by chance and takes him to her Los Angeles loft. Trapped together in the lockdown following the bombing, she’s stuck wondering who this man really is as she catches him in lie after lie. Is he connected to the bombing, and even possibly to her husband’s death?
Henry’s perspective is told in flashbacks to a time he was in the Peace Corps in the Central African Republic, leading up to an event that changed his life.
The two watch scenes of destruction, chaos, and horror playing out on television as news coverage continues, with added threats of further bombings and of fires fed by the Santa Ana winds. In the apartment, as the characters move between attraction and suspicion, Reed mixes psychological character development with constant suspense.
I so often tell myself as I read books in the evening, “Okay, end of next chapter, time for bed.” With Olivay, I kept saying that but then Reed would throw me another curve ball that kept me turning the page.
Our understanding of each character and their motivations builds slowly. In fact, there is this overall slow, dreamlike, sense of waiting to discover more, just at the characters are in this other-worldly waiting zone with the crisis developing outside the apartment.
As a person who lives in a tsunami zone where Emergency Preparedness is a big issue, I found this depiction of life after a catastrophe even more fascinating and cautionary.
If you are the kind of reader who likes everything to wrap up neatly at the end, you might find your reading boundaries stretched with Olivay.
I’m actually not one to pick up this kind of book, not normally a thriller reader. I picked this one up because Deborah spent her last week writing to deadline, writing in my house. Okay, I admit I was thrilled that she added a character in the book named Mrs. Hightower (not at all like me), but that isn’t why I couldn’t put the book down. It’s the kind of book that has you thinking about it long after you turn the last page.