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Sliding Fingers

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The Burning of Rachel Hayes - Doug Allyn Recommend: Yes

Pros: Very gripping book, couldn't put down. Characterization is great, plot is solid.

The Bottom Line:
Doug Allyn is a great short story writer, and if you have seen his short stories, and like them, then you will really like this book. Great book.

Full Review:
Dr. David Westbrook has just moved to a small town in Michigan. While Westbrook is beginning to remodel the barn that he will turn into an animal clinic, he hears a cry for help. Flinging the paint can away from him (accidently spilling it onto his drive way), Westbrook rushes about ten miles over to where he spots a woman digging frantically into the dirt. Her boy has fallen down a hole in the ground (Westbrook is not first sure if it is a sinkhole or a well). While rescuing the boy, Westbrook spots a skeleton. The authorities rush to the scene (Westbrook had called 911 prior to attempting the rescue, the boy was in freezing water and he figured he couldn't wait for the official rescue squad), and Westbrook makes note of the skeleton. The skeleton is brought up, and then strange occurrences begin.

This is the first book I've read by Allyn, though I've read many of his short stories and consider him to be one of the best short stories writers around. Unfortunately, Allyn's seven novels are hard to find. Allyn is a very good writer, and I hope I can find more of his books, and that he continues writing. It is hard to tell by just reading one of his novels, but it would appear that Allyn is very good in any length, and it is disappointing that he has not had more success in getting his novel length stories read.

This is the first and only novel in the Dr. David Westbrook series, though there was a collection of stories titled "All Creatures Dark and Dangerous" released in 1999. While I really enjoy Allyn's short stories, the Westbrook character, and his stories, were not the ones that I particularly liked. I picked up the book because I really like Allyn's work (and they seem to go out of print quickly), but left the book lying around for a while, as I couldn't get myself to read a Westbrook novel. I'm very glad that I finally read this book, as it is very well crafted, the characters are fully developed, the plot is solid (it would probably be better to read the book without too much advance information), and for the most part, this is a very well-written book. The genre issue, though, might be a problem. Is this a mystery? A slice of life novel? A ghost story? This is a very good combination of many genre's (including more than just the three mentioned), but might not satisfy someone looking for one particular type of book (as opposed to a combination of several styles book).