Chanticleer Book Reviews
CHASING NATHAN by Jeanette Hubbard, a humorous suspense novel
An epic convoy of bad men, good guys, tough women, and international operatives who zigzag across the Oregon wilderness chasing a truck-load of marijuana briquettes, a million bucks in cash, and one lovable border collie in this fast-paced satire by Jeanette Hubbard.
Claudie, independent and relationship-weary, encounters Nathan, an affable bookstore owner when the two camp side-by-side in what should be an idyllic woodsy retreat. Sparks of mutual interest waft over grilled salmon and chilled sauterne, until a nasty character named Hammer in a clapped-out truck decides to park nearby, barely squeezing in among the boulders. He’s loud and foul-mouthed, and he abuses his border collie.
The next morning, Nathan and his Winnebago are gone, along with Hammer – only the broken-down truck and the nervous collie remain. Claudie, a bit miffed at Nathan’s defection and suspecting foul play, stows the mistreated canine in her car and buzzes off to find the nearest lawman. Little does she realize that she has become part of a massive dope deal gone wrong, with Nathan and his old female friend Dani, an espionage expert, in the thick of it.
Claudie will learn a lot about Nathan, who, it turns out, is not just the jolly bookworm he appears to be; and there’s a lot Nathan will discover about the surprisingly intrepid Claudie. She worries about Nathan as she fends off the weirdos trying to take her dog away, while Nathan thinks of her fondly even as he makes a daring escape from the violent Hammer and his evil twin Sprocket.
Author Jeanette Hubbard introduced Claudie, a seasoned sixty-something, in her first novel, Secrets, Lies and Champagne Highs. In this rollicking sequel, Hubbard displays her knowledge of highways, weaponry, dopers, and spies. Chasing Nathan crisscrosses genres: part hippie, biker, road tripper’s fantasy, part thriller with intellectual undertones, love interest, and liberal lacings of humor.
Claudie appeals as a gutsy heroine with one hand on the steering wheel, the other flipping a bird at the thugs who try and fail to grab the collie. But she has her smarmy side, too, secretly admitting that despite her best defenses against a new romance, Nathan makes her feel all warm and fuzzy.
Chasing Nathan has a non-stop plot that celebrates the back roads, the great Northwest, and two saucy seniors who can flirt, fight, and floor the accelerator as the situation demands.
SECRETS, LIES, and CHAMPAGNE HIGHS by Jeanette Hubbard, a cozy mystery
July 2015 Interview with Ed Goldberg: Author Author Podcast Also on iTunes: Ed Goldberg Author Author
Ed says of Secrets, Lies and Champagne Highs, “This book is a riot…a social satire of a fairly high order.”
Ed Goldberg is a Portland, Oregon writer, creative writing teacher, and an on-air host at All Classical Portland.
PortlandBookReview.com The book received 4.5 stars.
On a crisp winter mid-afternoon, Claudie O’Brien finds herself parked in her BMW with some old pills, a bottle of champagne, and no reason to keep on living. When an accident occurs in Claudie’s attempt to take her own life, she finds herself rescued by Peter, a local vice principal turned tow truck driver. In Secrets, Lies and Champagne Highs, written by first-time novelist Jeanette Hubbard, readers follow Claudie’s journey to Sisters, Oregon, having moved into the remodeled garage of Peter, his two sweet kids, and his not-so-sweet second wife, Chrystal. Claudie quickly realizes that she’s entangled herself in more than she anticipated. On top a botched suicide, there’s the meth lab across the street, a non-existent murder plot turned reality, a phony spiritual guru, and more affairs between local citizens than she can keep straight.
It’s not every day you come across books that are as much fun to read as Secrets, Lies and Champagne Highs. With so many serious, melodramatic works being produced nowadays – most of which readers feel like they have to trudge through – Hubbard manages to create a book that is a breath of fresh air. Secrets is not only fun, but funny all around. The interactions and odd scenarios the characters find themselves in are enough to put a smile on any readers’ face. The book is a hearty light read, filled with snappy dialogue and intriguing plot developments. It’s incredibly well paced and, although perhaps only a lighthearted take on the mystery genre, interesting enough to keep readers’ attentions peaked continuously. All together, this book is a simple joy to experience.
Oregon readers will find it nice to have a book set in their home state for a change. The story primarily takes place in Sisters, though both Bend and Portland get a handful of shout outs throughout the text. All of the characters are enjoyable – even the ones who are meant to be more on the corrupt side of things. Altogether, it’s a really well done ensemble piece. Though Claudie’s journey is the clear focus of Secrets, there’s such a wonderful array of other characters surrounding her that readers will never find themselves bored. It’s also quite pleasant to have a book with an older woman as the protagonist – the age demographic authors seem to forget about most. It would have been so easy to make Claudie a young woman in the prime of her looks and life; something audiences see far too often in books such as these. Women fifty years or older tend to get slated as the crazy and/or busybody neighbors, or sometimes the harping relative or kindly grandmother. Instead of any of those cliche options, audiences are allowed to see Sisters and its crazy inhabitants through the eyes of Claudie, a woman in her sixties who is more than just a stereotype. Claudie’s a delightful protagonist to boot. She’s well-rounded, sarcastic, and sympathetic. She’s also experienced in life, thus has insight on everything going on around her, also making the story of her attempted suicide even more intriguing. Truly a great protagonist for a great read.