Unsolicited, the first of Julie Kaewart’s Alex Plumtree series, is a book I’ve actually had for some time and which I had the yen to re-read. Specifically, in print form–since the hero, Alex, is the young owner of a publishing company in London, and it therefore seemed wrong to re-purchase this particular volume in ebook form.
You’d think the British publishing business would be a sedate and staid affair, but as this is after all a mystery novel, you’d be wrong! It seems that Plumtree Press has scored big with its first fiction release, a novel written by an anonymous author known only as “Arthur”. Now Arthur is penning his sequel. But! He’s gone missing, and with him, the last five chapters of the novel. As Alex does his best to track down his reclusive writer and secure the missing chapters–or risk his publishing company going under–he soon discovers that there’s a lot more involved with this manuscript than just fiction. Arthur, whoever he may be, has taken actual World War II events pertaining to the kidnapping of British children and worked them into his book. Moreover, he’s about to reveal the perpetrator.
This is Kaewert’s first novel, and it shows a bit; she overuses the “if I had only known such-and-so was about to happen!” device, pretty much as code for “and something suspenseful is going to happen in the next chapter!” Plus, the book’s got issues with being dated even though it’s set in the 90’s, not that long ago. Arthur is described as being fond of communicating exclusively by fax, and in a scene where Alex’s office computer is trashed, he tells the reader in an aside that it’s a good thing that the culprit only broke the monitor instead of the hard drive where the actual data is stored–in what read to me clearly as a passage intended for readers who weren’t likely to be at all familiar with computers.
But all this said, Alex is a charmingly self-deprecating hero, and it’s refreshing to see a hero with severely bad eyesight, enough that he’s pretty much legally blind if he loses his glasses. Moreover, his devotion to Sarah, the banker who works with him on Plumtree Press’s finances and for whom he carries quite the torch, is quite sweet. So all in all, a nice read. Three stars.