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Tree Huggers.

Tree Huggers

Judy Nichols

Zumaya Enigma

9781934135235 $15.99

After her divorce, Kate Dennison puts her old journalism degree to use on her new job as a reporter on Wilmington's Winslow Beach Beacon. She expects to cover the usual fodder for this kind of local publication (a "rinky-dink newspaper in some Southern backwater"), school pageants and science fairs and town council meetings. But on her first day at the office there's a big news story: a McMansion on the coast burns to the ground with two people trapped inside. The arson cum murder is thought to be the work of an extremist environmental group whose modus operandi is to discourage building in environmentally fragile areas by destroying property. Kate's coverage of the case lands her in trouble with some of the paper's readers, some of whom aren't above violent demonstrations of their displeasure. And Kate's problems at work bleed into her home life as well, ultimately threatening her relationship with her seven-year-old daughter Molly.

The ending of Tree Huggers doesn't pack a very big surprise. We're not shocked by the identity or tactics of the bad guy when he's finally revealed. But the book is by no means lacking in tension: Nichols does a great job of making us worry about the welfare of Kate's daughter. Her depiction of the relationship between mother and daughter struck me as very true-to-life. Tree Huggers is a good light read that introduces a likable protagonist and a strong cast of supporting characters--Kate's ex-husband and daughter and her colleagues at the paper, an old flame turned new love interest. I don't know if the author has plans for a sequel, but I hope she does: I'd be more than happy to revisit Kate and the goings-on at the Winslow Beach Beacon in subsequent installments.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

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Author:Hamel, Debra
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:307
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