Soon after I started reading Bluff by Lenore Skomal someone noticed the book and asked the question, “What kind of bluff – cliff or deception?”
Having read all of 10 pages I looked at my inquisitor and answered with a framed air of authority.
“Cliff,” I said as turned my attention back to the book.
Now I find myself convoluted. It seems that the book is really about both kinds of a bluff.
Bluff is about the cliff variety of the moniker, but in ever the most delicately pervasive fashion it is also deception and its far-reaching impact. It would be a really good read about only one kind of bluff but, it is, in my humble opinion, the combination of the two that creates a literary vortex the reader will find hard to escape.
I landed in this vortex and felt compelled to read the book again for a confirmation of my initial thoughts.
A second reading of Bluff opens doors missed the first time around. Behind those doors you’ll find a landscape that is more than reward enough a second time through.
Skomal does a masterful job leaving a trail of literary breadcrumbs throughout the book. If you read closely you’ll find them. Don’t worry, they won’t give away the plot or act as any spoilers, but they provide an even deeper insight as to the characters, their background, the setting and the story as a whole.
Bluff is a story of realization for virtually every character you’ll encounter. Interestingly the characters learn not only about themselves but also those around them. They do this through what I will call unexpected cross interaction. It is as if everyone in Bluff was blissfully ignorant of how his or her lives interacted and impacted those around them. Then the tale begins and it is as if everyone starts to realize they are part of something larger.
Upon our entry into the tale all of the characters have been content in their status quo but, once the action begins, they are shocked into action and the tentacles begin to grow.
The tale opens with Jude Black being admitted to the ER after falling from a bluff (the obvious first kind). She is alive, but only in the slightest of fashions. She is also pregnant.
From here, with Jude and her unborn child as the starting point, we expand to learn not only about a variety of other characters and how their lives are intertwined in the most intricate of ways, but also how the deceptive sort of bluff becomes the norm for virtually everyone in our tale.
As the lives of the characters unfold, largely around the background of Jude’s continued hospitalization, the nuances become pristine, the mystery emerges and the suspense builds to a finality that will astound you.
That having been said, I struggled with one point of the book that prior to last week I would have likely have not mentioned; however, after the tragic events of last week in Connecticut, I feel compelled to address this point.
I enjoyed this book enough to read it twice, but given the tragedy in Newton, I want to make sure that anyone who reads it knows up front that there are issues involving children and firearms. I believe that Skomal handles this sensitive topic in a very appropriate fashion and I also believe the manner in which it is addressed in Bluff can serve as a springboard to the gun control debate that is on the forefront in our Nation.
I believe that fans of literary fiction, mysteries and thrillers would enjoy Bluff.
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Sean Keefer is the author of The Trust, a tale of mystery/suspense set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
The Trust is the Debut Novel from Sean Keefer.
I'm happy to consider books for review. I'll review hard and paperbacks. I'll also be happy to review eBooks but can only do Nook or PDF format. Email me from the Contact page for more information. Thanks!