All thanks to My Life in Books, I heard of Mitch Albom. I love the way Jennine G. writes about the books she has been reading and more often than not, I find myself elongating my to-be read list based on her recommendations. The discovery of Albom was perhaps a long time coming, since S and some of his friends had already read his work. So this last weekend, while we were browsing through the airport bookstore and I saw The First Phone Call from Heaven, I proclaimed that this is an author to read about and S said that he already had ! He has Tuesdays with Morrie which has had glowing reviews, as I discovered later. I do feel a bit like an ignorant fool to have completely skipped over an author of this reputation.
Anyway, it took me a week of hard reading to finish The First Phone Call from Heaven. And my first impression of the book, once I shut the covers, was that it resembled, in a garbled way, one of my favourite TV shows True Detective. I don't know how exactly to categorise the book, but its a good mix of soft emotions and thrill. The plot is bizzare - concerning phone calls from the afterlife and the ripples the phenomenon created in the sleepy town of Coldwater, Michigan - but that does not take away the warm acquaintance of the everyday reactions of the residents to the developments unravelling around them. The key characters have been built at a good pace and the turn of their lives has been nicely captured, without any conspicuousness. Needless to say, I am still haunted by the character of Sully Harding.
The book never sagged, surprisingly, given that there isn't much of a complication to the plot besides the journey of finding the truth, which - at the expense of sounding naive - isn't really the kind to elicit nail-bitingness. Rather, towards the end, I couldn't quite tear myself away. Nevertheless, just as in True Detective, I was a little disappointed in the revelation. That did not stop the story from being a heart-felt one, primarily because of the underlying emotions of love and loss.
One way or another, it was a good book. I enjoyed reading it the same way as I would lay in wait for the next episode of some TV series. And more importantly, it opened doors to a new author to me, which I would explore with pleasure.