4 out of 4 stars
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Having already read the second book in this series, I jumped at the chance to review book one, The O’Leary Enigma by Bob Purssell.
As an adopted child, Barbara O’Leary comes from a loving and supportive home, but she has always felt different from other children her age. A brilliant ice hockey player and go-kart driver, she also has a never-abating thirst for knowledge. This, however, along with her tall lanky frame puts her on the outside with her peers.
In trying to find out more about her biological mother, Barbara discovers a mystery. Determined to not turn out the same way as her mother did, this knowledge affects her life significantly in how she interacts with people.
Drawn to a career in the Navy, Barbara finds herself in the middle of dangerous and life-threatening situations. Will she be able to use her training to her advantage to save her life, and will she ever be able to solve the mystery surrounding her mother?
Written, for the majority of the book, in first person, this story is set up as a fictional memoir, written by a friend of Barbara’s using her notes, diaries, and interviews with her colleagues. I found this a very different, yet interesting style of writing.
As the main character, Barbara is brilliantly written. She is a very literal thinker and while incredibly determined, intelligent and outgoing, she lacks self-assurance regarding her figure and her sexuality. While she is indeed a strong female character, she has many little flaws and quirks which make her realistic.
The other characters are all three-dimensional and believable as the reader sees them through Barbara’s eyes. The overwhelming love for her father and her slightly strained yet loving relationship with her mother provide a believable portrayal of typical parents wanting the best for their daughter while trying to prevent her from making the same mistakes that they did.
Set in the near future, the story travels from the American Plains where Barbara grew up, all the way to Africa following her career in the Navy. I liked the variety of settings as it allowed Barbara to be portrayed in a new light.
An aspect which I appreciated in this book were the footnotes. Each term which may not have been common knowledge, whether it was about ice hockey, go-karting or the Navy, had a numbered link to a list of explanations at the end of the book. I found this very helpful, not knowing much about either of these three topics.
I found very little to criticise here, and after reading the second book, The O’Leary Entanglement, I appreciated the insight into Barbara’s younger character. This was a highly enjoyable read and I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this to a wide variety of readers especially those who enjoy good character development, adventure and action. I hope to read more about Barbara O’Leary in the future.
The O'Leary Enigma
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