Friday, August 11, 2017

Lockdown by Laurie R. King

Reviewed by Kristin

Linda McDonald has made a huge difference in her one year tenure as principal of Guadalupe Middle School in San Felipe, California.  Many of the children under her care are at risk from gang violence, poverty, and more.  Even those with more affluent parents are not immune.  After all, middle school is a hormone fueled time of growing up, reaching out and trying new things, and sometimes reaching too far.

As Linda prepares her comments for Career Day, she contemplates the many threads running through the school and how all are woven together to create a strong fabric, (particularly as a weaver is coming to talk about her craft as a career.)  As local business people give their speeches in various classrooms, Linda has a moment to reflect that her school is more than a cloth tapestry, it is a stone mosaic created from jagged and mismatched pieces, but joined together and made beautiful and strong.

Far different from Laurie King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes or homicide inspector Kate Martinelli series, Lockdown begins with a sense of expectation that something is about to happen.  Yes, the title does give the reader a good clue, as well as the short chapters headed with the minute by minute timestamp as events unfurl.  Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different person, allowing the reader to understand the trepidation of Principal McDonald, the sneakiness of a would-be graffiti artist, the worries of a sixth grade boy whose friend is missing, the all-seeing eyes of a newly hired janitor.

The sense of community surrounding the school is very strong.  King does an excellent job of expressing how the many characters relate to each other, as well as what has brought them to that point in their lives.  On Career Day, as the students consider their dreams for the future, danger enters the school.  With so many threads being brought together, King holds the reader in suspense till the very end.

King states in the acknowledgments that this book grew out of a series of interconnected short stories she wrote over the last twenty years.  At the end, some of the characters are partially revealed but have enticing bits of mystery clinging to them, perhaps leaving room for a sequel.  Although this is a departure from King’s usual style, I look forward to reading more of her new work.

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