Big drama in a small town


Big Noise by Jen Wright is a Northwood's thriller you can curl up with on a snowy night. Main character, Jo, is in need of a vacation from her stressful work dealing with troubled and sometimes dangerous teens. She and her new love interest, Zoey, head to the town Big Noise to visit friends, explore the outdoors, and explore their new relationship.

Barely a day into the trip, Jo gets a call from a colleague alerting her that one of her former probation cases has gone missing and he was last seen in the area she's vacationing at. This sets Jo sniffing around the lives of those who live up north; a motley blend of trailer-trash meth-heads, wilderness enthusiasts, poets, and hard-working lesbians.

There is a bit too much sentimentality and an unfocused emotional overflow from some of the characters. While there is a certain romance to the deep woods, the heightening seems deliberate. Amplified senses may help the plot, but sappy could aptly describe more than just some of the trees in Big Noise.

This novel does contain some intrigue, but I would classify the writing as suspense, rather than mystery. Because we can hear the murderer's thoughts, it creates a dynamic situation more than a puzzle to solve. The story is told mostly by Jo, but the point of view shifts between characters frequently. This lets the reader glimpse shameless flirtations, musings, crimes, and insecurities.

The sprinkling of poetry throughout the novel is, in sense, another viewpoint and a personal favorite. If Wright is a poet as well as a writer, she definitely excels at the former.

Snow Blind
Delicate, intricate, particulate
pieces of ice
slip silent
to the trees.
Shaping and softening the
separation between Earth and
Bright night full
Moon shines white
on white
goading the field mouse into a
Dance toward death
under the watch of
Owl eyes.”
-pg 73-74

Big Noise is a nice little novel filled with a lot of drama and a shot of suspense. The writing is, at times, emotionally heavy, and not for those lesbian-shy. Wright has a knack and style any Minnesotan will enjoy. The snowstorm scene where they hunt for the fugitive is so well-defined that you expect to see flakes outside your window and long for a crackling fireplace.

Check out more Jo Spence Mysteries at Clover Valley Press. If you like local mystery authors,?you may like?A Bridge Back by Patrick Garry.

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1 Comment

  1. T Ann Wry 26.Dec.09 at 3:23 pm

    Once into the background and character introductions, the mystery grabbed me and kept me up reading all night. This writer is going places! I love the Jo Spence series and can NOT wait for the next one.
    I highly recommend this writer.


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