From birth, Noah Hogarty has lived with severe cerebral palsy. He is nearly blind, unable to speak, and cannot run, walk, or crawl. Yet his mind works just as well as any other twelve-year-old’s—maybe even better. And Noah holds a secret dream: to become a great spy, following in the footsteps of his aunt, Liv “Boots” Bergen.
Now, freshly returned from training at Quantico, FBI agent Liv Bergen is thrown into her first professional case. Working side by side with veteran agent Streeter Pierce, enigmatic agent and lover Jack Linwood, and her bloodhound Beulah, Liv must race to find five-year-old Max—last seen at the Denver International Airport—before this Christmastime abduction turns deadly. Meanwhile Noah, housebound, becomes wrapped up in identifying the young face he sees watching him from his neighbor’s bedroom window, but he can neither describe nor inscribe what he knows.
And his investigation may lead to Noah paying the ultimate price in fulfilling his dream.
Noah’s Rainy Day (the fourth novel in Brannan’s mystery series) combines classic Liv Bergen irreverence and brainpower with an unflinching look at the darkest of human motivations, all while a whirlpool of increasingly terrifying events threatens to engulf Liv and Noah both in one final rainy day.
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The prologue to Noah’s Rainy Day opens with the words: “The good news is I think I broke my leg.” And then Noah proceeds to tell us:
“The bad news is I don’t know if anyone at school would ever believe how it happened. Or worse, I’m not sure if anyone will ever figure out how I got here.”
Twelve-year old Noah leaves the reader hanging a bit in this opening, and the author, therefore, has the reader turning the first page quickly.
The fourth in the Liv Bergen mystery series, Noah’s Rainy Day, easily stood alone. For that matter, I didn’t feel I was missing any links back to the earlier books. Strong characters appear in Noah and his aunt, newly trained FBI agent Liv. Noah loves Liv and wants to be just like her, and it is obvious that Liv returns Noah’s love abundantly. But Noah, a victim of cerebral palsy, is locked inside himself. He can’t talk or walk and communicates with his sister, Emma, via a “five-finger”method only they understand.
I loved the author’s development of Noah’s character, sharing consistently his clever and hardworking mind. Not much was lost on Noah; it was simply a struggle to be a noncommunicating member of family and society. Noah’s keen observations through his bedroom window of suspicious activity next door leads him to believe he is seeing the missing child, Max. However, he is unable to tell anyone as his sister is spending the night away.
To share more would give away too much.
However, I encountered distractions I found troubling. I felt on a slippery slope from time to time trying to balance the points of view: multiple first person POVs, multiple character POVs, and a third person who narrates. Another distraction was the voices of Max, a 5-year old, and 12-year old Noah sound too similar. In spite of Noah’s disabilities, with his sharp mind and savvy attitude about things around him, I believe the author could have given him a more adolescent- or preteen-like voice.
Also, references and innuendos are made around Liv’s relationships with Pierce and Linwood, neither of which seems to lead in a definitive direction. Perhaps this is planned for a later book in the series. As much as I grew to enjoy Liv’s character, I was disappointed when Liv finds it necessary to explain multiple times why her dog, Beulah, loses the scent of the young boy, Max. So many explanations were redundant and unnecessary. The lost scent is something a reader would understand based on the dog’s actions or lack of same.
The strength in this book comes from the development of Noah’s character and his burning desire to solve mysteries, especially this one, despite his poor eyesight and illness-imposed silence. He shines as a beacon to families with children suffering with cerebral palsy.
Readers who enjoy a light mystery that moves along well will find this an enjoyable book as long as they aren’t bothered by the distractions pointed out above.
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Meet the Author:
After living in Wyoming, Washington, D.C., Washington state, and Colorado, Sandra Brannan returned to her hometown in South Dakota, where she is surrounded by family. She enjoys working with relatives in the mining business; living in the Black Hills with her husband, Joel; smiling with pride over the journeys taken by her four sons; doting over her three grandchildren; and appreciating all of life’s blessings, too many to count. (Source: Author Website)
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I received a copy of Noah’s Rainy Day by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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ON DECK: Francine River’s Redeeming Love, a love story set in California during the 1850s.