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In the Company of Others by Jan Karon

Pub Date: | Reviewer: Kate Padilla

In the Company of Others
Father Tim Series #2
Jan Karon

Penguin Group Inc.
10-11-10
Hardcover/399 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-02212-0
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". . .short on drama. . ."

“In The Company of Others,” is short on drama and suspense and long on “words of wisdom,” sinners confessing sins and gaining forgiveness. As Cynthia, tells her husband, Episcopalian priest and central character Timothy Kavanagh, “So you pray and I’ll paint and together we’ll get the job done. Okay.”

This light mystery novel is really more of a faith-based soap opera that takes place in Ireland at Broughadoom, a fishing lodge on Lake Arrow. Tim (since he is retired, he prefers to be called by his first name) has taken Cynthia for her 64th birthday to visit his ancestral home. Shortly upon arriving at the lodge, while Tim is checking on a power outage, a man storms out of the armoire in their room. Frightened Cynthia falls backwards and sprains her ankle. Confined to the lodge, she paints and reads a centuries-old journal found in the lodge’s library. Meanwhile, Tim’s attempts to enjoy the outdoors and historical sites are usurped by residents and guests in need of counseling.

When proprietors Anna and Liam Conor discover the power outage was not caused by heavy rains, but rather someone intentionally cut the power lines and a valuable painting was missing, my interest was piqued, but expectations of a well-crafted plot were thwarted. Instead the bulk of the novel features lifeless characters ready to unload their pasts and fears–Liam thinks his wife is his half-sister, and Anna is dealing with a problem daughter from a previous marriage. Intertwined is Tim’s own story. He has discovered he has a stepbrother.

Unfortunately author Jan Koran fails to deftly link the characters’ dramas with the actual crime. Instead the reader is forced to mine through a boring journal written by Irish physician who owned the property, and numerous e-mails to Cynthia and Tim from family and friends from back home in North Carolina to ferret out the gems. Add another stumbling block–much of the dialogue is written in Irish-English accents which doesn’t breathe life into the personalities, but instead slows the pace of the story. One might have expected a nail biter, but instead this book ended up a challenge to read.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla