Minute of Darkness – Book Review
by: ED FRANKS
Some of you may remember my review of Joyce (JD) Daniels first book “Through Pelican Eyes” a “cozy mystery” novel set in Matlacha in the March 26, 2014 Eagle. Daniels characterizes her central character, Jessie Murphy, as a “Goodwill fashion queen, who comes across as a ditzy airhead."
For her next book Daniels decided to write about an area of the world that is “world's apart” from
Matlacha, Florida – Ankara, Turkey. Minute of Darkness is a novella where the central theme is international intrigue and her central character is “worlds apart” from Jessie Murphy. Cass Griffith is an American woman who is well educated and looking for a job supervising the building of a housing development project in Turkey.
“In Salem she (Griffith) had several spiritual encounter sessions. One women led her through a past life regression. She had seen herself with flowing hair wearing a toga, holding a book. She was standing on a hill overlooking rooftops of an ancient city and a high forbidding wall... Since that time, she never questioned her Turkish soul-connection. She'd lived here in a past life. Period.”
The 130 page novella, set in Turkey during a period of civil unrest, is a story about two American women, Cass Griffith and her friend Justina Ismit. Ismit is the wife of a Turkish banker and an administrative secretary to the president of the bank her husband works at.
Ismet's husband, Volcan, constantly assures Justina that she is lucky to have the job. “There are so many younger, more attractive women who wanted the job,” he tells her. Every night he would coach her that “she is in a different culture; never meet a man's gaze directly; if a man in the office makes a reasonable request, do it; you do not want to be labeled an aggressive American woman; never voice your opinion; do not confront; dress professionally; never cross your legs; and never, never show your tattoo.” In addition to her marital issues Justina Ismet is a deeply troubled young woman with a secret that could ruin her life.
Cass Griffith returns to Ankara after living two years in California and immediately re-unites with Ismit. Griffith “had come to Ankara with the intention of making the trip a journey that would prove her a stronger woman than when she had left.” The two women share a past of stolen artifacts and stolen culture. Both women have deep psychological scars and Daniels reveals them slowly building both drama and anticipation in this well crafted work. Two thumbs up for this novella.
Tonja Robins, author of Cahokia says about Minute of Darkness, “A journey into inner territories equally relatable and disturbing. This work has the quick pacing of a mystery, the lyricism of a poem, and the characterization of a fine short story.”
The last third of the book includes a number of Flash Fiction stories. Flash Fiction is a style of fictional literature very short in length. Sometimes called “sudden fiction”, “micro fiction” or “short-short stories” Daniels flash fiction stories are just a page or two each. The stories in the collection were previously published in the literary, online journal Doorknobs and BodyPaint.
JD Daniels holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Drake University with a dissertation of her poetry. Her award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including: The Broad River Review, The Sylvan Echo, The Elkhorn Review, Doorknobs & Bodypaint: An Anthology, The National PEN Woman’s Online Magazine and riverbabble. “Nancy’s Woodcut” won Second Prize in a contest sponsored by Emerson College, Cambridge University. Say Yes topped the bestseller list in Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature. Through Pelican Eyes is the first of the Jessie Murphy Mystery Series. Quick Walk to Murder will be the second in the series. The biography, The Old Wolf Lady: Wawewa Mepemoa, was awarded a grant from The Iowa Arts Council. Minute of Darkness and Eighteen Flash Fiction Stories debuted January, 2015. The Iowa Arts and Poets & Writers Directories invited her inclusion. She is co-founder and an editor for Prairie Wolf Press Review, a literary online journal featuring new and emerging writers and visual artists. She continues to teach writing at the college level. Kayaking, walking, laughing and telling stories and sharing ideas with her family and friends ranks high on her list of activities.
Daniels' books and e-books are also available on Amazon or Barnes and Nobels.com. They can also be purchased locally at Bert's Pine Bay Gallery, the C & W Fudge Shop in Matlacha, the Copperfish Bookstore in Punta Gorda or the Alliance for the Arts Giftshop in Fort Myers. You can contact the author through her Website at:www.live-from-jd.com.