The Lola Quartet: Another Literary Mystery from Emily St. John Mandel
Posted by: Misha Stone
Emily St. John Mandel writes literary stories with quiet mysteries at their core. Her books are perfect for readers who don’t consider themselves mystery readers or for readers you enjoy language and character. Mandel is so good at writing these lovely, fluid, melancholy stories about disaffected people adrift in life.
Gavin Sasaki left Sebastian, Florida for New York City ten years ago in order to pursue his dream of being an investigative reporter. Florida was never a good place for him between his indifferent parents and inability to handle the stifling heat. But when he is sent back to his home state to do a story about the influx of swamp creatures in the suburbs. Returning to Florida causes Gavin to reflect on the past, his high school jazz band and the girlfriend, Anna, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Then Gavin’s sister finds a girl he thinks could be Gavin’s daughter and Gavin has to face the rumors of Anna’s supposed pregnancy all those years ago. Is the girl in the photograph his daughter? Is she safe? These questions drive Gavin to distraction and even fraud, leading him back to the sultry heat of Florida once again.
Other characters emerge and their connections also start to make sense as Mandel weaves a story of moorless people whose lives never quite became what they had dreamed. The Lola Quartet does what Mandel’s previous books, Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun, also accomplished–it pulls you into the orbit of some sad, sympathetic characters whose stories and revelations offer the reader a glimpse into a world that hovers on the edge of our own. There is an ethereal quality to everything Mandel does in her writing. She manages a languorous pace in books that simultaneously make you want to turn the pages as fast as you can. Emily St. John Mandel is a quiet wonder.