A Woman’s Guide to Search and Rescue

Mary Carroll Moore

Publisher: Riverbed Press Pages: 357 Price: (paperback) ISBN: 9798987531709 Reviewed: August, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

In this compelling contemporary novel set in the Adirondack Mountains, the act of search and rescue is both a response to an emergency and a metaphor for the repair of a fractured family.

Bad weather forces indie cult band singer/songwriter Red Nelson to crash land her small plane in the Adirondacks. She’s trying to get to her half-sister Kate after Red was jumped backstage and her husband Vern was viciously attacked and left for dead. She manages to text Kate’s daughter Molly, and her niece picks her up and hides her in a cabin on her parents’ property.

Over the next ten days, as Red unwinds what happened backstage to answer authorities’ suspicions she may have been involved, she enlists Kate’s help as a search-and-rescue volunteer to find evidence she lost in the crash. Meanwhile, the half-sisters struggle to resolve their relationships with their father, a stunt pilot who left when they were children, and each other.

Using search-and-rescue both literally and figuratively is an effective way to keep the plot moving. On the surface, the crash and threat the attacker might return, Kate’s search of the crash site, etc. provide the plot’s momentum, which has a satisfying forward thrust.

On a deeper layer, the focus is on abandonment: their father’s inability to commit to his daughters long-term, Kate’s lingering distrust over her husband’s past affair; Molly’s fear of committing to her art career. As these women get to know one another in a crisis, they heal old wounds and build new bonds—all conveyed with vivid, cinematic flair and compassion.

The characters could benefit from unique quirks of speech and action to differentiate themselves from one another. There’s also a health scare for Kate that thrums throughout without any resolution in the end.

But these are quibbles. Readers who respond to characters longing for connection and building families with those who love, support, and respect them, blood ties or not, need search no further.

Also available as an ebook and audio book.

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