I’m thrilled to share another winner with you. I know you’ll enjoy meeting Clarice G. James and her cast from DOUBLE HEADER. First the back cover blurb:
“Casey Gallagher has it all together—a lucrative marketing career in Boston, a happy marriage, and a successful sports column she writes with her younger brother Griffin. She’s got a plan to save for a dream home in the suburbs and then have kids, even though her cop husband Sam doesn’t see the need to wait.
The memory of her father still looms large four years after his passing. He was the cop who let her shine his boots, and she’s idolized him since she was a little girl. Even Sam can’t live up to his legacy. Then Casey receives a letter that bursts her balloon. Could her father not have been all she believed he was, and if so, how can her mother, who recently remarried and found a new faith, so easily forgive her former husband? Even the Red Sox rookies Casey and Griffin have recently befriended seem to have an inner peace that puzzles her.
As Casey attempts to fit the changes life throws at her into her idealistic plan, she is challenged by the dialogue running in her head. Is it her conscience, her imagination, or the voice of the God she’s not sure she believes in?”
When Casey’s happy memories from childhood are fractured, she begins a tough journey to re-establish her equilibrium and forge a new plan for her life. While this task is deeply emotional and challenging for her, Clarice James’s skill in writing and her witty style make the reader’s journey a delight.
Casey and Griffin are open and engaging, spar like experts but always good-naturedly, and draw the reader right into their world. James draws her characters with plenty of quirks to make them interesting, and finds fresh ways to describe them.
For instance, Casey names her carryall satchel as some might name a car or a pet. And Casey’s boss repeatedly misplaces personal items and is often seen patting his pockets, belt, wrist, or wallet as he searches for glasses, cell phone, or watch. Her nickname for him? Macarena Man.
James is obviously a keen observer of human behavior, which allows her to portray concise but very powerful character interactions with crisp, clever dialog. I especially enjoyed Casey’s cheeky observations, even of herself. Here she’s thinking:
I sounded like a freshman at Smart Mouth Prep. I didn’t usually talk that way in front of my mother.
Adding to the enjoyment of reading Casey’s story is James’s ability to create vivid word pictures and effective metaphors. For example, on this occasion Casey and Griffin, along with their spouses, are discussing how to proceed. Casey and Griffin are of opposite opinions:
I froze. It never occurred to me that Griffin would move forward without me. “You would do that, knowing the way I feel?” I turned to Sam and Jillian for support. They slid their chairs back a few inches over the border into Switzerland.
(Don’t you just love it ~ serious, insightful, then, like a fastball from nowhere, bam! A wonderful twist. Classic Clarice G. James.)
As Casey grapples with forgiving some people and even wondering if God exists, the spiritual themes are handled in a realistic manner, and with the grace and humor that characterizes James’s writing.
DOUBLE HEADER opens with a curve-ball first line that hooked me. And it continued to intrigue, surprise, and charm me to the very end.
Like the other two Operation first Novel winners, this story came alive, and I find myself thinking about who should be cast in the movie version. Enjoy meeting Clarice on her website. And scroll on down to read reviews of other winners’ novels, Linda Brooks Davis, The Calling of Ella McFarland, and Christy Brunke, Snow Out of Season.