True Review: The Plunge by Nancy G. West (and a Few Examples of Truth, Mainly)

I had a total knee replacement two days ago. It isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

Lying in bed at Ascension Seton is delightful. Nurses are wonderful. The cafeteria is too good for my good.

But physical therapists won’t leave me alone. They keep showing up and wanting me to get out of bed and walk.

The one who came in the morning after surgery asked if I was ready to get up and move. I said I never wanted to get up and move again. That was the wrong answer.

The afternoon PT had me walk halfway to El Paso. And back. He taught me–or tried to teach–me to use the two-wheeled walker (as opposed to the four-wheeler I’ve been using). (In British literature, two-wheeled walkers are referred to by the brand name, Zimmer frames. The phrase sounds so sophisticated that I may adopt it.)

This morning I walked to Santa Fe. The pain people had awakened me at eight and I said I had no pain. After the walk, I told the nurse to tell them I’d changed my mind. She gave me something to go with the something I’d already had. They’re free with the pain meds, which I appreciate.

I hope to go to inpatient rehab. Doctors are on board. I’m convinced going straight home would be a recipe for a fall, considering I have to have someone with me every time I stand and walk. And for transport home, they’ll have to tie me to the top of the car. The knee bends a bit but on a good day it doesn’t like to get in and out of the car.

But enough of my griping. I’m fine.

Because I have a killer painkiller–a new book. A book book, paper and everything.

I won it in a drawing from Nightstand Book Reviews.

Nightstand Book Reviews is, in its own words,

a site devoted to reviews of books that are great reads. Under this umbrella are books written by bestselling authors as well as by debut novelists in both ebook and paper format. Some are traditionally published authors and some are indies.

It’s for recommendations, not rants.

Now to my new book. It’s The Plunge by Nancy G. West, author of the Aggie Mundeen mysteries. Aggie and her good (very good) friend, Sam Vanderhoven, live in San Antonio, where Sam is a detective with the police force. Aggie’s penchant for helping Sam with his cases sometimes gets in his way–at least he thinks so–but that doesn’t discourage Aggie. She’s willing to stay out of his business, but when she thinks she can help . . . and she’s impulsive . . . and when she has the opportunity to check out a new acquaintance’s medicine cabinet . . . impulsive or not, she’s a pretty good amateur detective.

The Plunge takes Aggie in a new direction–away from San Antonio, east about thirty miles to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. When the Guadalupe floods, the effects can be disastrous, especially for people living nearby. And when there’s so much rain that surrounding creeks, and sometimes even the San Antonio River, overflow, results are devastating for miles around. That happened in 1998.

It’s in October of 1998 that Aggie and Sam plan a getaway at the home of Sam’s friend on Lake Placid, one of the river’s several lakes, ostensibly for pleasure but really so Sam can quietly investigate the disappearance of his friend’s boat. Even a little rain won’t ruin the retreat. But the pleasure weekend quickly turns into a rapid–critical–evacuation. Sam has left Aggie at the cottage to start his investigation and must reach her before the water does. Car motors stall, and at one time Aggie is looking for trees to climb.

Complicating things is that while on the water, in the dark, they see something–a drowning? Or a murder? Now there’s more than a missing boat to investigate.

As they say in fourth-grade book reports, if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. It’s a good one.

The Plunge touches me personally because I drove across the Guadalupe River near Lake Placid nearly every working day for twenty-eight years. I worked with people who lost everything, one whose house floated off its foundation. Another, who lived west near San Antonio, watched a car almost wash away on Interstate 10; her son raced to pull it out with a tractor, and the tractor floated. Even where I lived, thirty miles east of the Guadalupe on a smaller, quieter river, houses flooded, and several people were airlifted out.

Using this setting, Nancy G. West combines a first-rate mystery with the urgency and personal toll of the ’98 flood. The Plunge makes for a suspenseful read.

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In fairness–and to avoid lying–I admit that the physical therapists are not modern-day Torquemadas. They’re smiling, friendly, and encouraging, and if you look like you’re going to tip over, they grab you. They’re also great at what they do. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for them.

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Disclaimer: As I said, I won my copy of The Plunge from Nightstand Book Reviews. I didn’t buy it, but Nightstand Book Reviews didn’t pay for the review either. We don’t do that. The gift had no influence on my views.

I also said Nany G. West is a friend. We’ve been on a writers’ retreat together (where I don’t think anyone wrote a word, but we went to a lovely tea room). We’ve been to Malice Domestic, where we met at the Guppies Breakfast. She allowed me to take a snapshot of her. She didn’t pay me to say nice things about her book or in any way influence my review.

Patti Phillips of Nightstand Book Reviews has been a dedicated reader all her life. When not reading or writing about books, she now writes a blog in the voice of Detective Charlie Kerrian. Follow his adventures at www.kerriansnotebook.com,

Contact Patti at on Facebook (facebook.com/paphillips20) and Twitter (@pattiphillips) or by email at patti.nightstandbookreviews@gmail.com.

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Kathy Waller is co-author of the novella Stabbed, written with Manning Wolfe. Her short stories appear in anthologies Murder on Wheels, Lone Star Lawless, and Day of the Dark, and online at Mysterical-E. She’s working on a novel set in small-town Texas She lives in Austin with two cats and one husband..

 

Image of X-ray by Dr. Manuel González Reyes from Pixabay

Image of book cover by Kathy Waller

Image of Guadalupe Rver at mouth by KenB, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Image of Stabbed cover from Amazon