"Fatal Solutions" By Becky Clark

 Review by Cynthia Chow

Even though she has only recently sought treatment for her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, part-time waitress and crossword puzzle maker Quinn Carr is frustrated at not being immediately cured. Her organizational skills do come handy when going through her grandfather Bernard Dudley’s antique roll-top desk, a task delegated to her while Quinn’s mother adjusts to his move into the Bonneville Assisted Living Facility. Along with many papers stuffed inside the drawers is a Quit Claim Deed for nearby property, but when Quinn brings it up to her mother Georgeanne is infuriated. Her anger and refusal to talk about the matter is distinctly out of character for Quinn’s normally affable mother, which is why Quinn has her father retrieve the deed so that she can do further research and discover why it triggered her mother’s emotional reaction.

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Taking along her irrepressibly high-volume friend Loma, the two women track down the Colorado property and discover it to be the site of World War II’s Camp Chestnut. Rather than being a fun summer camp, Camp Chestnut was a Japanese Internment camp where Japanese-Americans were unjustly imprisoned while their homes and businesses sold off at pennies-on-the-dollar prices. As horrified as Quinn is at this shameful moment in America’s history, she’s just as alarmed to find a human skull among the remaining artifacts. Continuing his inexplicable hatred for Quinn, Police Chief Myron Chestnut refuses to investigate and even the Colorado Bureau of Investigations expresses no interest in pursuing the matter. Unable to resist the impulse to complete the puzzle of the deed and her mother’s connection to it, Quinn takes it upon herself to look into the land’s history, the owners, and the fascinating Daruma doll she finds on it.

This third in the series takes a closer examination of Quinn’s struggles with OCD and the manner in which it both hinders and helps her life. A coping mechanism during stressful times, it also allows her to make CSI-level evidence grids as she organizes clues at a crime scene. For her everyday life, Quinn is learning through therapy how to manage her stress and recognize when her OCD begins to take over her life. This unique perspective continues to make this a fascinating series, one that incorporates the mystery into Quinn’s challenge to overcome her lifelong habits.

Equally fun is how Quinn attempts to incept the police chief’s brain and lead him down a trail by placing clues in the crossword puzzles he loves and she creates for the Chestnut Station Chronicle. These puzzles will be fun for crossword aficionados, but even more importantly they sprinkle in the history of Japanese Internment camps that were in truth prisons for the innocent and who never even went on trials. Camp Chestnut may be fictional, but the ten internment camps that imprisoned over 120,000 Japanese Americans for years were very real. There is a lot of sugar to go down with this educational medicine, though, as Quinn works through her relationships with the ever-impulsive Loma, the retired seniors who regularly visit the Chestnut Diner, and even the abrasive Police Chief. Even her bestie Officer Rico Lopez has never fully known nor understood the extent of Quinn’s disorder, and as Quinn lowers her guard their friendship only grows stronger. While Quinn may unrealistically wish to quickly conquer her OCD, learning how to manage her symptoms in a way that also further her investigation is a laudable achievement. This is an extraordinarily original, sympathetic, and still very entertaining examination of a young woman dealing with mental illness and anxiety.

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Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).
 Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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