January Moon

1 star1 star1 star1 star0.75 star Adult
Calls that come in the middle of the night are seldom good, especially when it’s your mother and she’s hysterical because your dad’s got a dead body in his truck -- a very young dead female body in his truck, to be exact.... As Chicago homicide detective Del Carter is about to learn, life can go from damn bad to real damn bad in a heartbeat.

January Moon is a rip-roarin' read! More

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Published: Sep. 29, 2010
Words: 125,470
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452327273
About Maureen Gill

Maureen Gill is a native Chicagoan and especially delighted that her writing style has been compared to a “gale force wind off Lake Michigan.” Her first novel, January Moon, has received excellent reviews and Maureen has also been compared to Michael Connolly and Lee Childe. January Moon is the first novel to situate female genital mutilation (FGM) at the heart of an American detective story and has been written in a refreshing new way that proves Maureen is unafraid to push boundaries and challenge conventions.

Maureen explains, “I was trained in history at Loyola University Chicago and I used my training as a historian to write January Moon. As a professionally trained historian I don’t feel bound by all the formulas and style guides or other so-called rules about fiction. I write fiction using the techniques of a historian which I can explain this way: January Moon is about a cult and how actions inside the cult by one or more crazy people changed the lives of all the main characters. If I were going to write a compelling, fascinating story about the FBI’s raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco, I’d go down there and interview the whole town, all the survivors, their families and friends, as well as all the so-called important people like the federal agents themselves or the Attorney General. I’d write the story from the ground up, not the top down, and I might begin by interviewing a local woman who was the first to see the ominous helicopters move toward the cult compound as she was hanging out her ‘wersh’ one morning. That’s how I’d build the big picture: through the interwoven stories of the little people as well as the big people. I might open the story with the comments of the woman hanging out her wash. In January Moon I felt the need to tell a remarkable story through the voices and experiences of many people; some of those people would know how the events in the story changed their lives while a few might never know but taken together their lives were all a part of the bigger story. As a historian I’m very comfortable with huge epic stories about great men but they all also contain the many voices and influences of hundreds of people. I understand how history is written and now I’ve taken my professional ability to weave a great historical story out of real facts into the world of fiction, a special place where I can actually invent the facts and spin them to my own liking with all the bias I want and no worry about footnotes and bibliographies! It’s been very liberating.”

Maureen explains her decision to go indie this way: “I received tremendous feedback from agents almost immediately after I began the query process. I was incredibly ignorant about querying but I’ve since learned I won the Lotto. I sent out less than 50 queries and within weeks was discussing the story with three important agents. Within 6 weeks of my first query I entered into a 90-day exclusive with one of them. Shortly thereafter, however, the discussion went south after they came back to me and suggested changes that would have totally altered the story. Most astonishingly, I was told I needed to ‘dumb it down’ because it was ‘too sophisticated’ for the ‘average’ American reader. I rejected that; I don’t think that’s true but even if it is, here’s the deal: I write the kind of books I like to read and I like stories with complex plots, intriguing characters, speed, surprises, and a lot of intellectual meat.”

There were several things the agent said publishers appeared to be nervous about; the first was the FGM and the other Maureen’s critique of religious extremism. “Both of those topics, especially FGM, add to January Moon’s special uniqueness. While we were in these absurd discussions I did my own extensive research about my other options. It was obvious to me, for many, many reasons, that indie was the rational way for me to go. I did so and have never looked back. I’m at a point in my life where I understand the strength of my writing and I’ve been validated as a writer in many other venues and I never believed I needed traditional publishing to validate me. I also won’t pimp my work out for any reason.”

Maureen explains further, “It surprises people that, given my training, I don’t write historical fiction. To that I say, I write contemporary historical fiction and by that I mean that I incorporate many of the hot-button issues in modern society into my stories. I do that to wedge open discussion about those topics and hopefully make readers think about a variety of important topics in a new ways.”

Maureen believes she’s been successful in this because “the one thing I hear most often about January Moon is that people have learned something they might not otherwise have known or thought they even wanted to know. People write me deeply personal emails talking about these issues and sharing their personal experiences. I’m always deeply moved by their trust and willingness to share.”

“People repeatedly tell me that they thought the FGM might be a turn off but it wasn’t. I’ve heard from men and women, Americans and Europeans, and received nothing but praise for how I handled the subject. People have thanked me for tackling it, explaining it, and not sensationalizing. I’ve been told I’ve written with class and great understanding.”

“But January is about so much more. It’s about racism, religious fanaticism, mental illness, dysfunctional families and strong families. It’s about love and hate and loss and there are several really powerful love stories that are woven throughout the story.”

“I spoke before a group of book club women in Chicago recently and was overwhelmed by their love for the story and the main characters. One woman astonished me – she could recite whole sections of the book! It’s been said that I write like a man and some readers have said they were surprised to learn I’m a woman but one lady said to me that I write like both a man and a woman. She said she heard manly voices as well as womanly voices and she strongly identified with a mother’s pain in the book. She said, ‘I know you think like a mature woman and you’re a mother.’ Some of the women told me they thought January Moon was a love story but their husbands thought it was a great cop story. I think that’s fantastic praise.”

Among other academic awards, Maureen has won four Carnegie-Mellon Foundation awards for outstanding historical research and writing. A former legal and medical researcher, paralegal and college history and philosophy teacher, Maureen uses her grasp of US history and popular culture, as well as her skills for in-depth research and analysis, to write cutting edge contemporary fiction.

January Moon is the first in her "Del Carter Calendar Series." The second book in the series, March Storm, will probably be available in the late summer or early fall 2011. Maureen is also writing a history book titled Daylight & Déjà vu. Maureen describes it as “all the good stuff you never learned in school and probably need to know now.”

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Reviews

Review by: Sue Owen -Paper Mustang on Aug. 09, 2011 : star star star star star
I could not put this book down. I was warned before reading it that it dealt with a sensitive subject matter particularly for a woman. So I started reading this with some trepidation. Maureen handled the subject straight forward, head on and without apology or embarrassment. Without a doubt I will be doing research and helping to raise awareness of this serious and unacceptable practice.

The story itself is a bit like Maureen. Straight forward, head on and without embarrassment. It was hard to read in places when dealing with the lowest scum of the earth and I’m sure it had to of been hard to write. I felt pain in some places and tears flowed a few times which is not normal for me.

The characters were more than believable and I was right there with them catching their backs as they confronted opposition. I was pushing and encouraging when they needed it. I reached for the phone a few times to give someone a call that I felt might benefit from a cheerful voice just to realize it was just a book. Not that I would describe this as just a book. It is far more than that.

The many sides of this book are obvious when you start reading it. Relationships are not one-sided and Maureen certainly doesn’t paint a rosy picture of life here. But what she does do is give you champions, heroes and villains and she guides you through the rough times and into the light. I treasured every page and will re-read this book.

I’m not sure if she adds the Trooper, Shadow and Wolf piece onto every version but when I read that I cried all over again. What a beautiful memory she has chosen to share with her readers and a great insight into her personal life and this just makes me adore Maureen all the more.

This is a must read and one of very few books that I will read again and again. I kept having to check the cover to makes sure I wasn’t reading a Dick Frances book. It’s a great thriller and perfect study of human-kind at its lowest and best.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Tyler Tichelaar on May 11, 2011 : star star star star star
Move Over Michael Connelly—Maureen Gill Has Arrived!

Maureen Gill has burst onto the crime fiction scene with her new novel “January Moon.” Gill’s first novel, and the first in a projected series, features Chicago cop Del Carter, and each book in the series will be named for a different month, with “January Moon” being a great way to kick off the calendar year and a fast-paced, page-turning series.

The title of “January Moon” refers to a strange prophecy around which the crime centers. The prophecy states that “The One who will be the Final Seed of Truth will be planted in the True Mother’s Womb under the light of the brightest January Moon.” Lieutenant Del Carter becomes involved in a crime investigation that largely revolves around this prophecy when his trucker dad picks up a young adolescent girl at a truck stop to protect her from some unsavory characters only to have her end up dying in his truck. The girl, known as Sunny, turns out to be the niece of Del’s fiancée Jess. And just as shocking, Sunny has died from female genital mutilation being performed on her innocent young body.

In the investigation, Del joins forces with several other cops as well as the FBI. Among Del’s compatriots in solving the crime are Fred Wiley, a somewhat ornery homicide investigator with his own secrets about a past relationship, and an officer Wiley nicknames “Eggs” because his last name is Benedict, although “Eggs” isn’t smart enough to get the joke. While solving the crime and bringing about justice, these characters discover they have their own personal issues to work out, making the reader as or more interested in the characters and their relationships as in solving the crime.

In time, the investigation leads to a cult group on a compound in Illinois that is known as the All Faith Jerusalem Church. Sunny’s mother, Evelyn, is not only a member of the cult, but she is the one who created the prophecies. The cult claims to embrace the best of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, while rejecting that Christ is the world’s savior; instead, the cult believes a new savior will be born according to the January Moon prophecy. The leader of the cult, Jim Harte, is known as the Prophet. He claims to be a brilliant theologian, but he is also the tool of those who would use him to extort money from his followers and set up means to drain people’s bank accounts electronically. Jim is also assisted and used by his sister, my favorite character in the book, Rae Harte—who doesn’t love a good villain? Rae has become her brother’s protector and comforter, but she also has her own agenda. She is wonderfully described in the book as behaving like “the Terminator playing Blanche Dubois” and as a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rae was apparently sexually abused in her past, and she decided to develop the strength of a man to make sure no one can hurt her again; the other characters speculate that she is on steroids, and she nearly brings Wiley to his knees when she shakes his hand.

To say much more about the plot would be to give too much away, but I will say that author Maureen Gill has assembled a large cast of intriguing characters with plenty of subplots that all come together for a dramatic and satisfying final showdown. I was impressed by how much she included in the book, and the way she ties everything together makes the writing flow effortlessly. The cast of characters is a lot larger than the few I have mentioned here, and Gill is so talented that she can introduce a character with just a few sentences and make the reader remember who that character is even if he or she doesn’t appear until many pages later. Unlike many such novels, I was never once lost or confused. Such character development, especially of minor characters, is rare, yet Gill has mastered it.

Being from Upper Michigan, I also appreciated the introduction of “Yooper” characters, who are a bit exaggerated in their accents and strange habits, but all in good fun. Maybe if we’re lucky, in a future novel, Del and Wiley will have to chase a character into “da U.P., eh?”

“January Moon” had me hooked from the first page, and I hardly set the book down until the dramatic ending, and then I only wished the next book had been published already. The book’s 360 pages makes it a substantial read, not a quick and easily forgotten mystery, and that allowed me to enter fully into a complex fictional world that was a wholly believable depiction of Chicago and the surrounding area. Gill left me wanting more—especially to find out what will happen to the characters in future books. The series is named for Del Carter, but ultimately, Wiley is the character I most hope will show up in future books. Gill left a few things about the characters’ relationships hanging, so I suspect several of the characters will return again. If so, February can’t come soon enough for me.

Because of the pacing and character development, I don’t think I have been so hooked by a contemporary crime novel since I read Michael Connelly’s “The Poet” many years ago. For a first novel, “January Moon” is an astonishing achievement, and I hope eleven more novels will quickly follow.

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Helena Dariotis on March 08, 2011 : star star star star star
Excellent book; great read! I highly recommend this book. This book received detailed reviews but no one mentioned one of the most unusual things about the author's style. Ms. Gill threw a lot of rules about writing out the window and at first I started to think she was a really inexperienced writer but so much else was right, even great and her style was so compelling that I started to think maybe something very special was happening about how she was writing. Was it deliberate on her part or not? I can't imagine but it's certainly different and it really works. She weaves multipe stories together seamlessly and in the end she really delivers. What a great ending! And a perfect set-up for a sequel. Her characters are all interesting and she's great with realistic dialogue. Her horrible She-He villain is beyond creepy. January Moon is full of drama and has some great comedic relief and I can't wait for the next book. This book raises the bar for first time self published authors. Gill is major competition.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Denis Brank on Dec. 26, 2010 : star star star star star
I liked it. The dialogue was realistic and the cops & FBI believable. I thought it slowed down in the middle about the jihad-wannabees but overall it’s a pretty quick read. It held my attention and there were some unexpected surprises. I’m a retired state trooper and liked reading about a state cop working a murder investigation because it’s not just big citiy cops that fight crime. I liked Fred Wiley and every cop knows a jerk like Eggs. Del Carter’s the kind of smart cop good cops respect and the other cops were real too and I’d play it just like Del (go in and tell the feebs later) under the circumstances and yes there’d be hell to pay. Most cop story writers trash the FBI or make them look ridiculous because they know cops don’t like them and cops buy cop stories but Gill was fair and accurate about the feebs. They really do some stuff very good like big sweeping interstate computer fraud so she knew where to put the feebs and make them shine and the raid on the cult was realistic in the usual screw ups that always happen. The autopsy was excellent and a surprise as I never understood FGM before and without beating the reader over the head with it Gill made her points and it was fascinating. The fight with the dog and the freaky bitch was very good and I enjoyed the twists about Kenny and Wiley and the ending was clever and I would read other books by this author. My wife is enjoying it now.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: MARKY DE SADE on Dec. 26, 2010 : star
I bought this book on the review rcommendations and the sample download. The sample was good and so I bought the book. WRONG! Are her friends writing the reviews? If so they are being unkind.The book should stand alone. Characters introduced that disapear, for no apparent reason.When in the car with her husband he notes that she is going on one of her rants and she does that for ten or more pages and I do mean a rant,totally meaningless. The husbands character isn't real, some kind of ideal feminine view of the 'perfect' man. Way too long. Needs editing BADLY. One good part where 'eggs' a character is given his name and I will bet that was a real anecdote, and not from the writers imagination. 1/2 a star. I want my money and time back. Oh yeah the real life dog story at the back, lose it!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: NicoleDaines on Nov. 27, 2010 : star star star star star
OUT OF THE PARK! Author Maureen Gill's debut novel "January Moon" is a home run! On every page, Gill's in-your-face writing style engaged me, holding me spellbound. Chock full of colorful characters, JM filled me up like a Thanksgiving feast. If you're a reader who's drawn to the rousing fight scenes of Lee Child: and the sly, sardonic humor of Sean Doolittle; and the intricate plotting of John LeCarre, and the swagger of Raymond Chandler, then you will fall in love with the writing of Maureen Gill. I recommend this book highly and am definitely one of her fans.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Jon Meerdon on Nov. 27, 2010 : star star star star star
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has a very interesting plot with a lot of surprises that are fresh and original. The characters are very believable and this writer writes really good dialogue (I hunt in the UP so it was a kick to read the Yooper talk). This book is not a piece of chiffon pie or a glass of white wine. I'd say it's more like a heaping big plate of meat and potatoes and a cold mug of good beer, very hearty and robust. I thought it was quality writing all the way and I would read other books by this author. Five stars.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Merri Royce-Kadetsky on Nov. 22, 2010 : star star star star star
January Moon is a really solid book you can sink your teeth into. It examines tough and meaty issues like racism, religious fundamentalism, female cutting, the ongoing tragedy of child abuse and how it warps its victims, family dynamics, and much more. There are rescued people in this book and a rescued dog and lots of drama but moments of great comic relief (Gill is wonderful at writing sardonic humor eg: "Eggs looked like it rang a bell, but not too loudly.") I think she's my new favorite writer. My son is reading it now and he likes it too (he's 29) so I think it's the kind of book that will have very large appeal. I highly recommend January Moon.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Craig Dellanova on Nov. 22, 2010 : star star star star star
I’m one of those guys who (this makes my feminist wife nuts) doesn’t read fiction written by women. I like cop stories and (no offense ladies) tend to think women write cop stories about female cops who secretly want to be Amish housewives and I get all kinds of mixed signals from those books. I like to keep it simple. (My wife just left the room in a snit; oh well. She can write her own review.) Anyway I just finished January Moon by Maureen Gill and I want to say Maureen proves there’s an exception to every rule. The only label you can attach to her writing is “damn good.” Get this book. You’ll enjoy it. I changed this review to add that my wife read this book over the weekend and thought it was “wonderful.”
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Kyle Shapauskas on Nov. 22, 2010 : star star star star star
My sister told me about this book and said it was a cop story and since I'm a cop I said "well, OK, let's hear about it" but when started to tell me about female genitel mutilation i said "no way" but she insisted and since I owe her money (no, not really) I agreed to listen (I listened b/c she always puts me on to good books) and I let her read me some parts outloud and I changed my mind and said, "ok, way..." and now here I am. And this is a double 1st for me b/c I just got a Kindle from my kids for my birthday (sorry Nook) and this is the 1st book I read on it and also this is the 1st review I ever wrote (my sister made me promise to do this if I liked the book b/c she likes the author but that's her bias not mine & I'm really here b/c I want to be). Anyway, I like the book. The characters are believable (esp Wiley, very believable). I really liked the cops and feebs and the oddball people (I worked wiht that guy Eggs, I swear to God) and its a nice twist to have an offender/perp whos a female homicidal maniac (well she's sort of a woman and she's obviously a complete whackjob). There are enough twists and turns in the story to keep you guessing all the time. I never expected the ending and its obvious Gill set the stage for another book and I'll read it. Is this a heavy book? Yeah, it has some major substance and I checked out Gill and she has some creds when it comes to history and Chicago and just living a real life (nice website and a brave lady with guts and I take my hat off to her. I like survivors.). But is it also entertaining? Definitely. And sometimes it's very funny, even LOL funny. And is it believable? Well, I had no problem with it. In some ways its a more accurate cop story than the usual stuff. Am I recommionding it? Yes I am. It worked for me. My wife is reading it now and then my girls so it will be interesting to see what they think but my wife is already laughing so I guess she likes it it. At $2.99 I don't know what you got to lose. This is a thumbs up book.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Shelley Berman on Nov. 17, 2010 : star star star star star
January Moon is the only book my husband and I have ever both enjoyed but we liked it for different reasons. He likes action cop stories and dogs and I like books with characters I can really get into and dogs (OK, so we both like dog stories). He liked it for its fast pace and thrilling ending but I liked how it was layered with lots of nuances and packed with drama and he doesn't even understand what "nuances" means (is that like "mauve?" he asks sarcastically).He liked the interesting twists and turns and I loved the family dynamics. He liked Del and Wiley and Tooch and Frank and I loved Jess and her mom and Eliot and the female FBI agents. He got a kick out of the references to Chicago's streets and I enjoyed how the author handled Chicago's people. Mrs. Lupuserythematosis was priceless and so was Agnes Mehlman and Stanley Poiczyvoyczkym, a name that's like "Smith" in Chicago. He likes to get into the heads of hateful crazy people (murderers and creeps) and I like to get into the heads of people who sacrifice and love and I'd invite into my home. I like themes about love and redemption and he prefers plot over theme (he just asked "what's a theme?"). He eats jerky and I eat sushi; he speaks perfect Southside Chicagoese and was raised Irish-Italian Catholic and I was born in West Rogers Park, a nice Jewish girl with a family history probably like Abby Horowitz and we both understand the complexities of marriages like the the Zahidi-Weinstein union. We are true Chicagoans: complicated, simple, tough and soft and all of this comes out in Gill's writing. My husband is a businessman and I teach English (ESL) and he's blown away by how cleverly Gill weaves in history (a subject he loves)and I'm struck by her prose, her character development, how she's stepped out of the box and written something very unique, something that's maybe one of those rare literary hybrids that actually works. To me January Moon was comfort food, like brisket or cheescake for the soul. He thinks of January Moon as a killer blizzard that slammed into Chicago without warning, or maybe a deadly seiche out of Lake Michigan. You know what? This is one of those rare times we're both right. We will both be looking forward to more books from this talented author. And I think this is a very good book for book clubs because there's so much to discuss. The author provides hyperlinks to many of the topics in her book like FGM and animal rescue and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I've never seen that before, it's nice.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Chris Northern on Nov. 15, 2010 : star star star star star
January Moon is an ambitious exploration of the ways in which religious fundamentalism is used as a screen for irrationality of all kinds. Using female mutilation as its underlying theme, it gathers a diverse range of characters into a page-turning thriller; along the way it also deals, among other things, with competition between crime prevention agencies and race relations. No-one is perfect; moral dilemmas abound. The family scenes are particularly well-drawn; an island of normality in a sea of madness (not forgetting the dog). A rollercoaster of a read! - Chris Northern (Author of The Last King's Amulet & The Key To The Grave)
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Lynn MacNichols on Nov. 14, 2010 : star star star star star
Maureen Gill is a Chicagoan and there's something about her writing that tells you that even if you didn't now it. Maybe it's the Midwestern bluntness with a dash of openess and that strange sincere friendliness all Chicagoan have (so different from other big cities). Maybe it's the in-your-face, "put your cards on the table and spit it out if you got something to say" attitude of the Windy City. I don't really know but it sort of jumped off the page to me. Whatever it is, January Moon and Maureen Gill are as brisk and refreshing and able to blow you over as a gale force wind off Lake Michigan. This book is a sweeping fast paced saga that weaves several amazing tales into one great story. I loved it. It was different (I mean who the heck can write about female genital mutilation and make you want to read it? Some great talent there alright.) Gill is funny too (the Mayor and his Ethiopians!) and so sarcastic (rednecks aren't going to be amused) but her real strength is the power of her dramatic writing which left me limp and emotionally stunned over and over again, ie., the doctor telling Joan Oboti the truth about her father was the best writing I've read in years (OMG). And then Gill did it again with Wiley and Eiot and the truth about what happened to Eliot when she was a little girl at the hands of racists, and then yet again when Louise tells Dell about the pain and horror of raising a demonic child. Over and over again Gill demonstrated remarkable talent. And her comedic timing was perfect; without it I don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much, it might have been too heavy but every time Gill brought me to the edge she pulled me back and let me take a badly needed breather. And I don't want to give it away but that battle between that creepy woman and Wolf (the dog on the cover) was my idea of horror (and it was a pretty good literary trick for it to be seen through the scope of an assassin). But of all the stories I think the story about Wiley and Eliot and Kenny was the best. This book is a little different and that's one of the things I like about it. I think with her first book Gill has dared to come out swinging and boy that's just so Chicago! (PS: I'm actually going to read it again. I know I missed stuff on the first read and want to go back and savor some it again. Yep, it's that good.)
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Barb Bensinger on Nov. 14, 2010 : star star star star star
January Moon is an exceptional work of fiction, especially for a new author. I haven't always been impressed with self-published authors but this book doesn't suffer from so many of the problems you see with independently published works. Whatever small errors it may have are easily overlooked because the writing is so extraordinarily beautiful, the story so utterly fascinating and creative, and the characters that grace the pages of the book are convincing and well developed. Gill has as refreshing new voice, a biting wit, and an ability to really spin a good yarn. Nothing in January Moon is formulaic or predictable (in fact, she grandly shatters a lot of the old rules which more or less begs the question about why we have them anyway; they are obviously not needed, at least not for a person with such mastery of the written word as Gill). Are you getting the idea I liked January Moon yet? Frankly, I couldn't put it down and once I was through with it I wanted to go back and read a few parts all over again and then call a friend and discuss it. I enjoyed reading the trailer about the dogs at the end of the book and also appreciated the hyperlinks to helpful websites for further information about various topics in the book. That was a nice touch. Her website is also very interesting. My only small criticism is that the book would have benefited from professional editing in a few sections but the overall strength of the story and the skill in which it was written really dwarfs such criticisms, all the more so because it's her first novel and she appears to have done it all by herself without the traditional perks an author receives when backed by an agent and a publishing house.

I'm giving January Moon an unreserved five stars and am predicting this very interesting lady from Chicago is going to take the book world by storm.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Jack Paulukas on Nov. 14, 2010 : star star star star star
I like Grisham and Clancy and Patterson and probably haven't read many women's books so I was skeptical about this book (by a woman and about some of the topics in it) but a cop friend told me it was a good read so I took his word on it and I enjoyed it very much and now my wife is reading it. It reads fast, the people were believable, I got a kick out of the humor in it and all the stories in it came together at the end just right. I'm the father of three girls and so it was easy for me to get sucked into this book. I would have done just what Mack did and tried to rescue that girl from the creeps. I never read a book that developed the role of a father as this book did. I was very touched by the story about the Ambasador and his daughter. That got to me. I don't know why people do what they do and I never even heard of the FGM before but it was very interesting. This is a very good writer and I have no problem recommending this book very highly. If she writes another book I would definitely read it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Mark Croce on Oct. 26, 2010 : star star star star star
Gill obviously has a whole lot to say about a whole lot of things and they're all pretty deep and important and just when you think she’s getting too heavy, maybe too serious, something amazing happens: she sneaks up behind you and tickles you in the ribs and you burst out laughing. Then she slams you to the floor and kicks your ass once more with some amazing emotional s*** that will kick you in the gut and then she has you laughing or smirking or chuckling again. She can be very funny and a lot of it is very subtle and dry but there is definitely a lot of humor (I guess that was the biggest surprise to me). The author also does action really well too. The scene at the end with the dog fighting “The Big Bitch” to the death to save Jess was incredible. Gill described it so well I could see it happening perfectly and the whole explosive gun battle in the cult was very believable. I liked the plot and I liked the characters and I liked the action as well as the humor but what was most amazing was how well she made all the different stories come together in the end. That was very clever and sets up everything for a logical sequel which I’ll definitely read.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Meagan Anne Marris on Oct. 17, 2010 : star star star star star
I really enjoyed January Moon. It’s the kind of book that stays with you after you read it and you might even want to read it again. This is a really good book club type of book because it’s loaded with things to discuss. There’s so much to get out of it. It hooked me right from the beginning, held my attention all the way through, and delivered a smashing good ending that obviously sets the stage for the next book (which I hope is available soon). I thought the characters were very believable and I think the author made her villain especially believable because she allowed the reader to really get into her mind and get an idea about what happened to her as a child and I liked that because it gave her more depth and made her more interesting. She also did a great job of describing the horrors of FGM but then didn’t beat the reader over the head with it and in fact also explained it as the cultural phenomena that it is and not necessarily as just some insane act of crazy people so she wrote about this topic with a lot of finesse and insight which I think shows a lot of talent as a writer. Although JM is described as a detective story/suspense novel (and it’s both of those things) it’s also a love story, actually several love stories, and not just female-male romantic love but also family love and how friends love and care for one another too. And it’s about people who don’t love or can’t love (broken people) and what that does to them and others and how it’s a cycle of pain and she shows how normal families can have children that break their hearts and destroy them. Maybe in the end what I really liked most about this book is it tackles very tough subjects but does so in a really entertaining way. And it’s also a dog story and has a great climactic gun battle (I was on the edge of my seat and without giving away the ending I really liked Wolf), and makes me want to visit Chicago (maybe Gill is working for the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and not the Renaissance Man/Del Carter!). I understand this is the author’s first novel and that’s amazing because it’s very sophisticated and polished. She definitely has her own style and it’s a good one. Five Big Stars for January Moon!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Eileen Yacullo on Oct. 12, 2010 : star star star star star
From the start I could not put it down. I felt pulled into this story immediately. I found the author Maureen Gill really painted a realistic scene on every page. I truly enjoyed the visit to Greenleaf Beach and other downtown Chicago locations by the characters. I enjoyed touring the Wisc and downstate Ill area as well,seeing the story unfold along the way.
As a Chicagoian and the daughter of as Chicago Police officer I found the dialogue between the officers to be very realistic. I liked the way the detectives worked together to solve the crime. Threading the politics of Chgo through out the story line was also noted. This is a great first novel and I look forward to more!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Crystal Chefec on Oct. 12, 2010 : star star star star star
I love this author’s style! Her writing is quick, quirky, witty, dramatic, totally irreverent (and bitingly sarcastic) and also full of compassion and understanding.
The plot is intricate, fascinating, and sophisticated and very cutting edge. It's richly detailed and layered with tough social issues but never heavy handed or pedantic.
Gill hammers your senses with a deft hand in a velvet glove. There are some scenes in this book that are totally amazing: the scene with Ambassador Oboti holding his daughter in the hospital in Berne and the other one with Eliot telling Wiley the truth about her dead parents might be the two most powerful scenes I've ever read in any modern work of fiction and at such times Gill’s prose soars to astonishing heights the equal of any great work of literary fiction. The author also has a great talent for character development. Every character, no matter what his or her role, has a reason for being and helps advance the story. And her take into the mind of madness is also riveting and I liked how she gave Rae and Jim Harte a history that made their madness more understandable. Also, she has a perfect ear for dialogue and a talent for both dramatic and comedic timing. Gill delivers the sights, sounds, and eccentricities of Chicago brilliantly and her grasp of the wider cultural currents throughout the country are equally brilliant. This is a tremendous achievement for a first novel and if this author writes several more books half as good as January Moon she’s going to become one of the country’s most famous and respected contemporary authors. I belong to a book club and recommended this book to my group and we’re going to make January Moon the first ebook we’ve ever chosen (I hope I can get it in print too).
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Gina Gallo on Oct. 10, 2010 : star star star star star
In January Moon, Maureen Gill swaggers through her debut novel with the impressive power, precision and dead-on aim of the last gun standing after the smoke clears. Her characters are finely drawn coordinates in a lethal landscape, tripping the dark fantastic through a plot with more twists than a dry martini. This powerful cocktail is served straight up, an incendiary shot of fire, darkness, and all that lurks in the shadows of man. Literati, take note: There's a new gun in town and she's taking no prisoners. With each page of January Moon, Gill secures her rightful position as an ascendant star.
Gina Gallo
"Armed and Dangerous: Memoirs of a Chicago Policewoman"
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Dennis Banahan on Oct. 10, 2010 : star star star star star
Maureen Gill’s debut novel, January Moon, is a masterpiece, a tour de force. Her prodigious research, poignant narrative, astonishingly fresh voice, and passion for her characters will have you laughing on one page and crying on the next. This gifted storyteller has spun a remarkable and totally unique story that culminates in a suspenseful, astonishing ending; it will leave you breathless and hungry for more great work from this exceptionally talented author. I was a Chicago Policeman for thirty years, a homicide detective for ten of them, and I can assure readers that this author has captured the essence of a real criminal investigation with amazingly accurate insight. The voices of her cops, feds, politicians, ME and other remarkable cast of characters ring so true with me that I could almost swear I was there, right in the thick of it, as each incredible element in her story unfolded before my astonished eyes. January Moon is an absolute must read.
Lt. Dennis Banahan (CPD ret.)
“Threshold of Pain”
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Lynda Loeb on Oct. 06, 2010 : star star star star star
I realy enjoyed January Moon! This author is a wonderful storyteller and it's absolutely amazing how she took a handful of very interesting stories with fascinating characters and wove them in and out with lots of unexpected twists and made it all come together in one really great ending. January Moon might be one of the best books I've read in a long time (it's also my first experience with an ebook which was pretty cool). And I really liked the additional story about the dogs at the end of the book and also appreciate the hyperlinks so I can do my own research if I want (that was very thoughtful and very cool). I strongly recommend January Moon and would like to read more books from this author. In the meantime I now have to deal with this insatiable craving I suddenly have for a big slice of Chicago pizza... (Oh and I checked out all the links and they take you to really good stuff worth checking out.)
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Alan Thomas on Oct. 06, 2010 : star star star star star
January Moon is a great read! I was absolutely hooked from the beginning. It's a unique story about very sensitive subjects written with a lot of skill and class, drama and humor. I think Gill has great understanding about people and life and human tragedy and family dynamics; the cast of characters in January Moon are all memorable and believable real life people (the dog too!). The plot is fast and fascinating and the ending will definitely leave you hoping for more good reads from this amazing new writer. Gill's a keeper.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Dave Gatto on Oct. 06, 2010 : star star star star star
I really enjoyed this book. I think the author has a great new style and this book left me wanting to read anything she writes.She swings back & forth between the clipped fast-paced lingo of pure Chicago-ese and some really brilliant prose that will leave you stunned and breathless. I wasn't sure I wanted to read about something like FGM but she pulled me in with such skill that I was immediately sucked into the story and couldn't put it down and realize now how skillfully she handled the subject as well as the other subjects she raises like religious fanaticism, racial bigotry, mental illness. She writes with a lot of power and intelligence and humor. You will sometimes LOL! The characters are very real, the story has great twists and turns, and the ending is a slam dunk winner that she tied together perfectly. January Moon is really good book! (BTW I think she does dogs better than Koontz; sorry Dean but it's true. Hers are more believable.)
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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