Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Scarlet Macaw


Have you been to Singapore? If not, you will likely put that city/territory on your list of wishful destinations once you’ve read The Scarlet Macaw. The author, Canadian and Toronto resident, S.P. (Penny) Hozy, is obviously very familiar with the history, geography, culture and food of Singapore, and, in fact, has found a way in her retirement to spend part of every year in Malaysia. We, the readers of The Scarlet Macaw are the happy beneficiaries of her travel knowledge.

The Scarlet Macaw is a mystery with a difference because it is also the story of a family. Set in Singapore in two time periods, the 1920’s and 2012, the story starts with a present-day death on the very first page. The victim, Peter, is an art dealer and his friend, Maris, an artist whom he is mentoring believes he is having a stroke, but finds out that, in fact, he has been poisoned. Why has an art gallery owner, successful and well-liked in his community been murdered? The story of Peter’s family is also a mystery that Maris eventually unravels through reading letters and books of fictional short stories written by a famous early 20th century writer that Peter has bequeathed to her.

Alternating between the two time periods, both stories are compelling and I couldn’t put the book down. I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the action. And now I want to spend a week or so in Singapore at the earliest opportunity.