Mary McWay Seaman reviews T. M. Doran's novel, Terrapin: A Mystery (Ignatius Press, 2012) for New Oxford Review:
A careful reading of this compelling mystery novel uncovers bounteous symbolism and multiple cryptic allusionssurrounding a long-hidden crime and several adolescent indiscretions. That said, readers should steel themselves early on against urges to overanalyze events in this exceedingly complex tale. The temptation to “find” themes quickly or to identify culprits is tricky as T.M. Doran’s intricate thriller, Terrapin, braids common strands from four men’s pasts to underscore the point that no one emerges wholly unscathed from the vicissitudes of youthful villainy. The long-dormant villainy in this case explodes unexpectedly into the four perpetrators’ lives during their sports-weekend reunion in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aficionados of suspense fiction will appreciate the book’s surreal plot, its brisk pace, and its snappy repartee.
Doran’s prose proclaims that mortals drag their childhoods with them through life’s long fight, and that each generation inhabits its own culture within the same country. Be that as it may, the novel’s unimaginable ending demonstrates that fraudulent intellectual and moral gymnastics in any culture are no match for the ongoing, unmitigated ramifications of malice on perpetrators and victims alike, ramifications that play forward in ways seen and unseen, whether or not they are ever acknowledged.
Read the entire review on the NOR website.
For more about the novel, or to purchases it, visit the Ignatus Press site, or go to the Terrapin book site to view a trailer, read excerpts, download a free short story, and learn more about Doran and his writing.
Last September, CWR interviewed Doran about his writing:
CWR: Who are some of the authors and
thinkers who have influenced you the most?
Doran: As to literature, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor, J.R.R. Tolkien, and T.S. Eliot, writers and poets who wrote from a Catholic perspective rather than writing explicitly Catholic novels. I read a variety of writers: Jane Austen, Dostoevsky, Patrick O'Brian, Thornton Wilder, Oscar Wilde, Dickens, Richard Adams, and I have learned something about the craft of writing from every one of them. I enjoy mystery stories, especially the golden age puzzle-plot stories from the 1920s through the 1940s. Some of my favorite mystery authors are G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, J.D. Carr (the locked room master), Rex Stout, and the early Ellery Queen mysteries that featured pure "ratiocination". I enjoy P.D. James, who is still writing.
I have been an avid reader of history and biography for decades, which helped immensely when I was composing Toward the Gleam
Thinkers who have influenced me include Blessed John Paul II (especially "Faith and Reason" and "The Splendor of the Truth"), Edith Stein (her journey from phenomenology to the convent), Kurt Goedel (his ideas about time and space), G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and Frank Sheed (their accessible apologetics), Blaise Pascal (reason in the light of faith), William F. Buckley (conservatism based on first principles and natural law), and Augustine and Aquinas (a little at a time). I have a four-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy on my bookshelf, to which I refer quite often. I've always had a fascination with competing ideas.