This was a great airport book – totally took my mind off delays, screaming kids, annoying airport tv, etc. Instead, while I was reading Baggage by S.G. Redling, I could spend my time yelling (just inside my head) at Anna, who really hates February:
Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date.
Well, maybe this year will be different. Anna has moved to West Virginia and taken up a new job at Eastern Allegheny College. She spends her days counseling art majors – helping them with their schedules and their career goals, getting them into internships and art competitions – with her bubbly boss, Meredith. Her cousin, Jeannie, has come to town to help her make it past this anniversary. Jeannie was her savior and her rock growing up, one person she could count on in the mayhem of her childhood, and she is determined to take care of Anna. They hit the town and drown their sorrows and memories of bad Februaries past, but it doesn’t help. Anna heads off to work in the morning to find one more reason to hate the winter months: there has been a murder on campus…and Anna may be a suspect.
Anna is so pitiful that it’s hard to hate on her. Her life is a mess. She drinks way too much. She lives in a shitty apartment and she’s a pretty lousy housekeeper. It’s clear that she has never really dealt with the mess in her childhood. But you have to cut her some slack – it’s been less than a year since her husband committed suicide and anyone would have difficulty coping. Anna’s solution to every problem is more wine; she buys 6 bottles at a time to save trips. She loves her work and the students she helps, she likes the faculty members she works with, but now one of them may be a killer.
This is a good little mystery. It’s easy to connect with Anna and feel for her tragic story. There are plenty of twists and turns — Jeannie has a history at the college; Karrmen, one of Anna’s students, is in a really rough place; there may be an unrequited love interest to deal with — and some of them were not what I expected. Jeannie and Anna have a very realistic relationship. Any two people who have been so wrapped up in each other’s lives will know what buttons to push; everything will not be sweetness and light. And while I kept wanting to smack Anna around, sober her up and drive her to a psychiatrist, I also wanted to hug her and make her a home-cooked meal. The details of her past, which come out in bits and pieces, are pretty tragic.
This was a very quick read and a great choice for mystery lovers – read it while it’s still February!. My copy of Baggage was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge. For more on the author, check out her Facebook page.