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The Mysteries
Lisa Tuttle
Bantam Spectra, 323 pages

Lisa Tuttle
Lisa Tuttle grew up in Texas, where, as a young writer, she fell in with the notorious Turkey City gang. She sold her first short stories in the early 1970s, and received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1974. After five years as a newspaper journalist in Austin, she opted out of a life of financial security to write fiction full-time. In 1981 she moved to London. Her first novel, Windhaven, was written in collaboration with George R.R. Martin. This was followed by Familiar Spirit (1983), Gabriel (1987), Lost Futures (1992) and The Pillow Friend (1996), as well as by three short story collections. Lisa Tuttle is also the author of several non-fiction works, most notably The Encyclopedia of Feminism (1986), and a number of books for children, including Panther in Argyll (1996) and Mad House (1998). She now lives in a remote part of western Scotland with her family.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ghosts and Other Lovers
Lisa Tuttle Tribute Site
Bio/Bibliography: 1, 2, 3 Book reviews:

Upcoming limited edition of Ghosts and Other Lovers from Sarob Press
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

The Mysteries To define Lisa Tuttle's latest novel The Mysteries, is extremely hard.

In a way, it's a detective story, starring Ian Kennedy, an American private investigator now living in London, whose specialization is finding missing persons. Laura Lensky, another American on the verge of going back to the USA, hires him to trace her daughter Peri, disappeared two years before.

The case triggers in Kennedy painful memories of other disappearances such as that of his own father, vanished without warning when he was still a kid, and that of his sweetheart Jenny, who left him all of a sudden without an explanation.

Furthermore Peri's case reminds Kennedy very much of his first commission in Scotland when, while trying to track down another missing girl, the detective ended up experiencing the mysteries of Celtic legends, involving the fairies and the unfathomable Otherworld.

Thus, the realism of the detective story melts into the realm of fantastic and folklore. In other words Tuttle's book is about the magic hidden behind everyday's life with its conventional view of the reality.

To say that she's a great writer is simply obvious to anyone familiar with this author's previous work. Her ability as a storyteller is equalled only by her skill in portraying her characters with a few, precise words.

There's not a single moment of ennui during the whole novel, although, admittedly every now and then the story somehow lacks plausibility when the fantastic element gets the upper hand over the plot's soundness. This especially applies to Peri's final, predictable rescue, when Kennedy, accompanied by Laura and Peri's former fiancée Hugh, has to confront the dangers and the secrets of the Otherworld.

Oddly enough the best parts of the book in terms of credibility and fictional strength are the ones totally devoid of any trace of fantasy such as the outstanding report of the casual encounter between a teenager Ian and the father who deserted him or the section where the detective manages to discover the whereabouts of his former lover and observes from a distance her new life without him. Or, again, the ambiguous, open ending which seems to hint to the possibility of further stories featuring detective Kennedy, whose sentimental life is at a crossroads. Which proves that Tuttle is, first of all, an extraordinary mainstream writer and then an accomplished fantasist.

Because, as she aptly remarks, 'people are mysteries' and this is the core of any good fiction.

Copyright © 2005 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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