The Keene Toadstool Bookshop Hosts
presenting his book IN-PERSON
The story is narrated by Junie Blaise, traumatized in 1968 at age fourteen by the death of his father in an apparent hunting accident during the annual reunion and deer hunt of his dad and three other U.S. Army veterans of the Korean War.
Junie, a widower now in his sixties, agoraphobic, and living alone in Shinbone Shack, a log cabin on Grace Pond in New Hampshire, joins forces with the grandchild of another of the veterans, to learn the truths behind multiple deaths. Trinity Landrieu, age twenty-something, is a brash intersex person or NOT, who is a talented computer hacker, investigator, and self-described shape-shifter. Sometimes Trinity passes as a woman, sometimes as a man, but neither Junie nor the reader will know Trinity's true gender.
Much of the action of WHIRLYBIRD ISLAND takes place on Grace Pond in fictional Darby, New Hampshire, but there are also scenes in Lowell, MA, White River Junction, VT, New Orleans, LA, Seattle area in Washington state, Port Mansfield, TX, and Trinidad of the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, all places that I am familiar with.
Junie and Trinity investigate what will turn out to be a series of killings related to the aftermath of an incident in the Korean War. While there's plenty of action in this book and many revelations, it's a character-driven narrative with the not very subtle theme of war trauma.
Ernest Hebert is best known for the Darby Chronicles Series, which is a series of seven novels written between 1979 and 2014 about modern life in a fictional New Hampshire town as it transitions from relative rural poverty to being more upscale, almost suburban. He has also written several stand-alone novels, including Mad Boys, The Old American, and The Contrarian Voice: And Other Poems.