In The Four Corners of the Sky, Michael Malone tells the story of Annie Peregrine Goode, a Navy pilot going to visit her Aunt Sam and Uncle Clark at the family home in Emerald, North Carolina, for her 26th birthday. Annie was raised by her Aunt Sam, a movie buff who owns a video store and likes to quote old films, and Clark, a pediatrician and Sam's childhood friend. Sam is a lesbian, and Clark has been married twice, and they enjoy living together in a purely platonic relationship. Annie was abandoned by her con artist father, Jack, when she was just 7 years old. She hasn't seen her father in years, but he's brought back into her life when she receives a call from Detective Daniel Hart in Miami, who tells her that Jack is wanted by the feds for stealing a relic the Cuban government has laid claim to. Annie heard about the Queen of the Sea -- a gold statue of the Virgin Mary -- from her father when she was little, but she never believed it was real.
When she arrives home, there is a cryptic note from Jack telling her to fly the plane he gave her as a little girl, the King of the Sky, to St. Louis. He needs her help, and when Annie learns from his accomplice, Raffy Rook, that he is dying of cancer, she decides to do what she can to keep him from from spending his last days in jail. The trouble is, he's a con artist, so no one knows whether he's really dying or not.
There's a lot going on in The Four Corners of the Sky, with Annie going on a wild goose chase to locate her father and the statue's missing jewels, fighting off her soon-to-be ex-husband who wants her back, wanting her father to tell her about the mother she never knew, and uncovering the secrets of the Queen of the Sea. It wasn't hard to keep things straight, and the plot and subplots were interesting enough to keep my attention for more than 500 pages. However, the one downside to the book is its length. There were a lot of unnecessary details and events -- most in the form of flashbacks -- that could have been left out, and while they were interesting, they did nothing to move the plot along.
Malone has created a cast of eccentric characters that kept me guessing throughout. I thought Annie was likable, though I didn't always agree with how she handled matters involving her father, and Sam was a riot. Annie's soon-to-be ex, Brad, was infuriating, and Raffy was entertaining, though I couldn't figure him out for much of the book. Annie's father, Jack, was an intriguing character. He tried to groom Annie to swindle people with him, then suddenly dropped her off at his sister's house. He returned briefly only once when she was a teenager, and then he expected his grown daughter to come to his aid at the drop of a hat. I wanted to know more about what made him tick, and I was a bit disappointed that Malone didn't include more about him.
The Four Corners of the Sky touches upon what it means to be a family, learning to love and to forgive. Despite the book's length, I enjoyed the bit of mystery and watching the characters grow from their experiences. Malone is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
The Four Corners of the Sky also was reviewed by:
Savvy Verse & Wit
A Bookworm's World
At Home With Books
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Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Four Corners of the Sky from Sourcebooks for review purposes.