3 out of 4 stars
Patrick Carter’s life seems to be going nowhere when his pick-up breaks down and he begins walking home. As he is walking, he hears a girl screaming followed by a splash in the river that runs beside his path. Without thinking twice, he jumps in the river and rescues the girl who was thrown in. With that action, his life changes dramatically.
Lemoncella Cocktail is a suspenseful work of fiction that takes place in a town on the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In rescuing the young girl, Samantha, and restoring her to her family, Patrick becomes embroiled in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation. Conducted by a Special Task Force led by Andres Des Pres and his secretary Lucien Borodin, the investigation is focused on arms-trafficking and bringing the arms buyers and sellers to justice.
The book, though well-written and well-edited, sometimes left itself open to disbelief. For example, Amelia, Samantha’s sister, is portrayed as having fallen in love with Oscar, the criminal mastermind of the arms traffickers. That Amelia, described as a beautiful young woman, would be attracted to Oscar, a crude overweight thug, is hard to understand. So is the induction of Patrick into acting as a special agent for the RCMP, since he is a high-school dropout with no discernable job skills. And yet Amelia is described as somewhat immature and Oscar does have a Corvette, a car described by many as a girl-trap. And Patrick may be a high-school dropout but his keen intelligence and insight are clearly observed by members of the task force. So…maybe it’s a little hard to believe, but not totally unbelievable. Besides, it still works.
I enjoyed learning about the Mounties and the author delivered insight into their operation, piquing my interest in learning more. The descriptions of both the professional and personal lives of Des Pres and Borodin leads me to believe that law enforcement in other countries is similar to my own. I’d like to see how they differ, though, and the book gives small glimpses of that.
The book’s plot is well developed and easy to follow. The characters, too, are well honed; the author inspires affection for the heroes, disdain for the criminals, and compassion for those caught up in the murky area where both right and wrong call their names. The ability of human beings to change and grow is one of the themes of the book, along with the ability to recognize and resist childhood conditioning and move toward self-determination. The clarity of Natan’s writing shows her skill in revealing people and their character. What I especially liked was the main protagonist, Patrick, and how thoroughly decent he was. This was demonstrated by the kindness and affection he showed to a young boy in the story even though he maintained to himself that he didn’t like children. The respect he showed to his girlfriend by practicing tolerance for her father, an opinionated and pretentious man, reinforced this view.
The book moved at an appropriate pace. It is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller but more of a middle-of-your-seat one. It unfolds in a timely way and it will appeal to readers who like a good crime story with a non-ambiguous resolution. It’s a feel-good story with happy endings for the good guys and not-so-happy endings for the bad ones. Sometimes it seemed like issues were resolved too easily to be realistic, and the resolutions seemed a little too pat, but all in all it was a good read. If there were grammatical or spelling errors, I didn’t detect them. I would rate it 3 out of 4 stars.