Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: Move by Sherri Fulmer Moorer

Sherri Fulmer Moorer
Ruby Josen is a meek woman. She’s passive, she’s uninteresting, and she’s unadventurous, but mostly she’s just complacent. She recently applied for and was rejected for a promotion at the graphics company where she works in a small Tennessee town. To add insult to this injury, Millie, the woman given the job, is an angry, pushy, demanding person who seems to have it out for Ruby. To then heap even more insult onto the injury and the first insult, Ruby learns that her friend, Simone, who had promised to recommend her for the promotion, reneged and actually helped Millie to get the job.

The insults keep coming, but not before Ruby meets Bryce, a mysterious and seemingly prescient stranger, at a local festival. He promises to remove the obstacles which have been keeping Ruby back. It’s this apparently random happenstance encounter that sets the action into play. People begin turning up bludgeoned to death in this small mountain town – people who have been making life hard for Ruby.
Book cover by Tatiana Villa
Move by Sherri Fulmer Moorer is a paranormal thriller that explores the philosophical issues of free will, fatalism and why-are-women-so-mean-to-each-other? With a strong focus on the minutia of office politics, Move is a meticulously plotted examination of the butterfly effect. Each action results in – not a snowball, but an avalanche of cause-and-effect chaos.
Move fits nicely into the milieu of tales throughout history that have examined the idea that the fates which control our lives are an amalgam of malevolent and benevolent sprites with their own agendas and rules which bind them. From the Morai through Job to Daniel Webster and Robert Johnson, every culture has a story like Move. The author seems to understand this, and she judiciously picks a little from this legend and a little from that one to create her own unique template on which to build.
Yet this is not a novel without problems. Much of the dialogue is repetitive. The characters rehash the same discussions multiple times. This gives the story a realistic conversational feel, but unfortunately slows down the narrative in several places. Much of this is due to the personality of the main protagonist, Ruby. Has she been treated unfairly? Yes. Do we care? Not really? She’s a woman who has given up on life, and it makes us wonder why so many of the supporting characters are still in her corner when she’s off sitting in the bleachers.
What the story has in its favor though is a clever twist on the paranormal character, Bryce. Is he psychic? A ghost? A dybbuk? An angel? Also, until we learn for certain who the killer is, suspicion is genuinely fluid. Is Bryce the killer? Is Ruby? Maybe it was Simone or Ruby’s strongest friend and advocate, Denise.
One thing that is clear, Ms Fulmer Moorer is well versed in the inner-workings of freelance art companies. She has clearly embraced the SOP writerly advice to write-what-one-knows. If we remove the metaphysical aspects and the murder plot, I’m pretty sure we’re left with a look into the author’s personal journal with the names changed to protect the innocent.
Sherri can be found at her personal website and her stories can all be found at her author page on Amazon.


      Ruby stood at the top of the Tanger Falls Pass, watching the sun descend behind the mountains in the distance. This hiking trail was the best one in town, and she was glad to be alone at the peak to take in the view and collect her thoughts. She often hiked the trails on their end of the National Forest on Friday’s after work to avoid the crowds. Fortunately, her hopes came to pass and she was the only one on the trail, leaving her free to move at her own pace and enjoy nature without the disruption of tourists and amateurs stomping along the path and squawking about how hard it was to walk uphill.
   The past two days had been tense, but not as hard as the rest of the week. She hadn’t spoken to Simone unless it was absolutely necessary, and the detectives hadn’t been back. Mr. Goodard came by the office that morning for the difficult client meeting and was obviously in a mindset to get things settled. He got the client agreeable to a new timetable, and then surprised the office staff with a pizza lunch. They took a longer than usual break to sit around the conference room table and chat over breadsticks, various styles of pizza, and enough soft drinks to fill a fountain. Mr. Goodard said it was to thank the staff for “hanging in there” through a tough time and that he hoped they could return to normal soon. It was a good day because they were productive, but not so busy that they couldn’t enjoy some down time. Days like this used to be normal, and it was a shame that she couldn’t remember the last time she actually enjoyed a work day.
   Ruby wished the detectives would be as appreciative of their efforts to help find Millie’s murderer. Detective Barnes seemed content to investigate other leads, but Detective Wesson wasn’t letting go. He called Ruby the previous evening to ask follow up questions, and she took a lead from Denise and told him she wasn’t speaking to him again without an attorney. It worked for Denise and she hoped it worked for her. She just hoped that knife didn’t force them to call her bluff. The vision of that knife in the bag on the table in front of her woke her up in a short winded, sweaty panic several times over the past two nights.
   Ruby glanced at her watch and discovered it was seven fifteen. She didn’t want to leave the peaceful scene six thousand feet above the cares of the world, but knew she must. The trail would close when dusk set in, and she needed to get moving. She took in one last gaze of the clear blue sky and was turning back toward the trail when she bumped into someone. “Oh, excuse me,” she mumbled, looking up at the person that appeared behind her. She was surprised to see Bryce smiling down at her.

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