SEE HOW THEY RUN and the Owl in the Attic (Bethany Campbell)
For me, stories evolve in different ways. Sometimes one arrives complete, as if the Muse special-ordered it, monogrammed and gift-wrapped. Other stories start with one idea that just won’t go away. The trouble is, it won’t go anywhere else either. It may just hang around and hang around, inhabiting the head like a reclusive owl brooding in the attic rafters.
The basis for SEE HOW THEY RUN crouched in the rafters a long, long time. The idea came from a piece written by neurologist Oliver Sacks. He described adult twins diagnosed as possibly autistic and institutionalized since childhood. Although they could not grasp much of what most of us call reality, they had two unusual gifts: astonishing powers of personal recollection and a genius with numbers.
I couldn’t get the story out of my mind. What fascinated me was their twinship. Maybe nobody else could grasp the world as they saw it, but they understood each other perfectly. This paired aloneness made them seem both cursed and charmed, almost mystical creatures.
A few years later I read an unrelated book, THE UNDERGROUND EMPIRE, a chilling description of international drug trafficking and its power to insinuate its influence almost any place it wished. It described a world of incredible corruption and violence. This was scary stuff with scary people–so scary, it made the owl’s eyes open wide as saucers.
I suddenly imagined Sacks’s institutionalized twins as boys of eight. One day on the playground, they see the driveby shooting of an elderly man. With them is the heroine, their teacher, Laura Stoner, who calls the police because the boys have noticed important details that may help identify the killers.
But when the police discover the victim is a Mafioso kingpin and drug lord, they know the boys will be in danger, for they can identify the men making the first strike in a long-simmering drug war between the Mafia and a South American cartel. They order Laura and the twins put into protective custody.
The hero, assistant district attorney and former detective, Mick Montana, is one of the guards assigned to conduct her and the twins to a safe house. They’re ambushed, however, making it clear the cartel has informants inside the drug task force. Laura and Mick can no longer trust the system to protect them and the boys. They must go on the run with no backup and no plan.
The boys are difficult, enigmatic, yet as vulnerable and defenseless as children can be. The killers in pursuit are predators, ruthless, expert, and with almost unlimited resources. To get the twins to safety will take all Mick’s smarts and daring. But just as much depends on Laura’s unwavering devotion to two puzzling boys unloved by anyone else in the world.
When I finished the book, I missed working on it, but that was okay. There was another owl up in the attic by then, sulking, solitary, and waiting. Do you like suspense books? What intrigues you most about suspense stories? Comment below, 5 winners are randomly chosen to win random books every week, winners announced on Sunday – good luck!