I started working on this review the night before I even read Page One of Elle Klass’ Eye of the Storm. In my head, rolling around sleepless in the middle of the night, like most writers do. After all, it was more about Elle’s literary journey than anything else. It’s been a year since she asked me for a critique of an upcoming project, and I was happy to oblige. I reviewed her first novel, As Snow Falls, which was a postmodernist masterpiece of first-person narrative. Cormac Mc Carthy would have been proud. Her follow-up project, the Baby Girl trilogy, went in a different direction in which I was sorry to see it go. Of course, I’m the kind of guy who gets traumatized when one of my drinking buddies changes her hair style. I fight change like a burglar climbing out my window, and most of the times I live to regret it, just as I did with the adventures of Cleo.
What Elle did was pull off one of the most unusual trilogies in indie lit memory. Her Baby Girl (a title I thought apropos in how Ms. Klass babied the little $hit) started out as a vagabond waif riding the rails in a Dickensian odyssey with the unforgettable Einstein. From there she made her way to Europe and pulled a transformation which was straight out of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Only it morphed into a modern-day Jane Eyre as her benefactor, the remarkable Mr. Didier, helps her pull off her masquerade in astonishing both the snobbish members of Parisian high society and Elle’s readers alike. She then came full circle in Book Three, returning to America in joining forces with a low-rent private dick in tying up the loose ends. Cleo pieces the puzzles of her life together, helping Elle put the finishing touches on her intriguing rags-to-riches montage.
Which finally brings us to Storm, where Elle introduces us to Eilida Riley, a mysterious woman pursued by Ms. Klass’ latest quirky protagonist. Sunshine is in a perky relationship with a guy named Jerry who can’t figure out why she’s diving off the deep end after all this time. It’s a Hitchcockian plunge by Ms. Klass, who is once again exploring the world of amnesiac episodes, violent deaths and childhood trauma. The secret ingredient in her recipes is the exploration process, the self-discovery as her heroine finds out more about herself in delving deeper into the mysteries of her past. The more we learn about the centrifugal forces that drag our female protagonist deeper into the abyss, the more we learn about the character that keeps her from disappearing in the darkness. And you don’t get up until Elle Klass says you can.
Pick up a copy of Elle Klass’ Eye of the Storm and prepare to present this to your local book club. This is just another step in this author’s professional journey that you’ll want to retrace over and over again.