Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: "The Parabolist" by Nicholas Ruddick

In a Toronto alley police officers find a female rape victim with her attacker lying dead nearby. The only clue that they have as to the person or persons who killed the attacker is a clump of Crisco shortening on the victim's body. In a nearby medical school, Jasper Glass dissects a cadaver with precision as practice for his future as a doctor with his partner, the irresistable Valerie Anderson. Robert Moreno, a parabolist from Mexico, becomes the substitute teacher for a group of medical students taking a poetry class. Marnie Kennedy, an engaged medical student, decides that she is looking for one last fling before she marries her successful yet boring fiance. All of these story lines converge in family physician Nicholas Ruddick's debut novel, The Parabolist.

Ruddick has written a novel that is part mystery, part medical drama, and part literary novel that will keep you riveted all the way to the shocking conclusion. The seemingly unrelated storylines converge in a way reminiscient of Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin.

With his cast of colourful characters, Ruddick effortlessly draws you into the world of 1975 Toronto. I, for one, was specifically drawn to the eclectic group of people who made up Robert Moreno's poetry class. Although I don't read a lot of mysteries, the mystery aspect of this novel was subtle, yet interesting enough that it will appeal to a broad audience. This one will definitely leave you with something to think about, and I actually went back and read the ending a couple of times to make sure that I took in all of the important details.

Thank-you to Nita at Random House for sending this review copy! You can read from the book here, or find out more about the author here.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Can Lit fans, mystery lovers, those who enjoy literary fiction
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010

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