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Synopsis

Perhaps because the single bequest a writer can hope to give her characters is eternal life and because Susan Musgrave’s creations from her previous publication A Cargo of Orchids intend to take her up on it, they are back with a new story in a brilliantly engaging novel, Given. Rainy, the Mexican-American woman, and Frenchy, the African-American, along with Musgrave’s narrator X have returned and convincingly insist their story is not done. Once inmates on death row, now reunited and hanging out at an old house in a BC outport, they create a grand new afterlife adventure because death was just too weak to contain them. As we are shuttled along an energetic story line in an old hearse, through gated communities in Vancouver to BC’s First Nations island outposts, we witness the transformation of lives on the slopes of purgatory. The passageways are rife with wild rides, social satire and visually hilarious encounters. Of course, Musgrave’s trademark undercurrents of lurking peril and unexpected havoc play out against murder, drug encounters, and sexual tension but Given is always a novel with its own rules of engagement. Musgrave’s comic gifts and ability to transcend this earthly plane create a ghost story that becomes a masterful allegory for personal loss and the potency of love. Diabolical and tender, action-packed and meditative, it is another Musgrave must-read caper.

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