Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Review: So Many Doors by Oakley Hall

So Many Doors - Cover art by Robert McGinnis
For the first time in 60 years, So Many Doors by Oakley Hall is available in publication. This 320-page mystery/crime novel was called, “beautiful, powerful, even masterful” by novelist Michael Chabon.

The story behind So Many Doors begins where most other novels would end. The reader meets a condemned prisoner who has been sentenced to death for the murder of a beautiful young woman. In the opening chapter, Hall doesn’t tell us who exactly this character is – only that he is on Death Row for murder and that he has no interest in challenging his sentence.

From there, the author takes his reader back in time to the murdered woman’s teen years. Her name, by the way, is Vassila Caroline Baird but everyone calls her V. In the early chapters, we get to know V, her family, her neighbor, and the ranch that she grew up on in California.

As the story continues, V grows into adulthood and moves away from her childhood home. The reader continues to meet new characters and learn more about them as V continues into her late-teens and into her 20s.

With each succeeding chapter, the reader can hardly help but notice that if someone had something a little differently or had done one small act a little different, the entire story may well have ended in a manner that was radically different from the initial encounter with a prisoner condemned to death for V’s murder.

The great mystery, of course, is the identity of this condemned prisoner for the opening pages. The reader meets several men in this story who may well have had the means, motive, and opportunity to murder V but only one of them did it.

As one chapter flows into the next, this novel presents its reader with so many options as to which one of these men could have been her killer. This fact only reinforces that the novel showcases dozens of different ways in which V’s life could have gone in another direction.

A direction that would not have resulted in V being murdered and this man condemned to Death Row.

This, in my opinion, is the main reason why So Many Doors is such a fascinating and enjoyable mystery novel to read. The reader not only follows the story that resulted in V’s murder but is called to imagine all the different lives that she could have lived along the way.

So Many Doors by Oakley Hall is published by Hard Case Crime. It is available at bookstores everywhere or by clicking the banner below to read sample chapters at Amazon.com.

The paperback version of this mystery novel is priced at $9.95 in the United States, $13.50 in Canada, or £7.99 in the United Kingdom.


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