SPRING 2014 PINNACLE BOOK ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Girl in White Pajamas, written by Chris Birdy, received the award for Best Book in the Mystery Category.
Multiple generations of dysfunction catch up to a once-prominent Boston police family in Birdy’s elaborate debut mystery.
The McGruder clan affirms the second half of the Leo Tolstoy aphorism from Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Boghdun, known as “Bogie,” is the middle-aged, rejected scion of the once-elite family. He’s also an Army vet whose background includes childhood abuse and, later, romantic heartbreak. When someone murders his despised half brother, Bogie returns to Boston from Palm Springs, Calif., and reluctantly begins uncovering his family’s involvement in the case. He’s soon on a collision course with the former love of his life, who happens to be raising his 3-year-old daughter. Much of the strength of this solidly written thriller lies in the interconnectedness of its large cast of characters. The McGruder family harbors more than one skeleton in its closet, and each emerges accompanied by a few new characters who add to the drama. The mystery is as much about getting to the bottom of past wrongs as it is about solving the most recent crime. As a result, however, the momentum sometimes stalls, particularly during the middle third, when the central storyline fades out in favor of a long series of largely uneventful family moments. Other scenes stagnate when characters recollect past events that readers have already read about. That said, the author moderates such lulls with vivid descriptions, which effectively portray Boston and its rambling downtown streets in all their winter chill. Most of the characters are likewise believable with the notable exception of Bogie’s precocious 3-year-old, who manages a number of improbable feats for her age.
An often engaging dramatic mystery with involving characters.