Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

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
Library Queue
At Home With Books
Review From Here

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of The Four Corners of the Sky from Sourcebooks for review purposes.


Serena said...

I'm still reading this one, but I agree there are some flashbacks in here that didn't work for me.

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the honest review Anna...I've been reading similar comments of this one today.

bermudaonion said...

It does sound like there's a lot going on with this one. I wonder why they didn't edit some of it out.

Wanda said...

Bummer that this book was longer if it was just a so-so read for you, Anna. I don't mind a longer book if the plot and characters are keeping my interest. My problem is if the story wanes, I end up resenting the time invested. Giving up on the book though, means not knowing how things turned out and that will bug the heck out of me!

Maybe this one would make a better movie; all that non-essential stuff left on the cutting room floor ... ?

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melissa from Shhh I'm Reading...actually had to reshelve this one. Complicated plots combined with a chunkster would definitely take it out of you.

Unknown said...

I've read a lot of good about Malone but I have never read anything by him. I might give it a whirl since it sounds from your review like it is an author worth reading.

Darlene said...

I've heard that there is a lot going on in this book, maybe too much. I'm on the fence with it. Thanks for the review.

Anna said...

Serena: I can't wait for you to finish it so we can discuss the end, and I'm looking forward to your review.

Jo-Jo: You're welcome! I'm behind in my blog reading, so I haven't seen too many of the reviews yet.

bermudaonion: I was wondering that myself, but at least all the different plot lines weren't hard to follow.

Wanda: I think it would make an interesting movie. Overall, I thought this was a good book. At least the parts that weren't necessary were interesting enough to keep my attention.

Sandy: I hadn't heard that. I'll have to check out her blog.

lilly: I'm going to look up his other books. I hadn't heard of him prior to reading this book.

Dar: If you decide to read it at some point, let me know.

Ladytink_534 said...

I bet I'd really like Aunt Sam! She sounds like a neat character and I wonder how many old films I would recognize? I'll have to try this one and pass a recommendation on to my mom if I like it.

Staci said...

I really enjoyed your review Anna. I'm always grateful when a book blogger is honest about what worked or didn't work for "them" while reading a book!!

Anna said...

Ladytink: I'm not an old movie buff, so I knew just a few.

Staci: Thanks! This book received really mixed reviews, but overall, it wasn't so bad.