The Harry Potter of its time, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
and the forty or so other books in the Oz series have
become perennial sellers. There are Oz festivals, Oz fan
clubs, Oz newsletters, and, of course, Oz Web sites and
chat rooms. And now there's Hard Road, a Cat Marsala
mystery in which author Barbara D'Amato shares her own love
D'Amato's father knew Oz author L. Frank Baum and as a
child played with Baum's children. Five generations of
D'Amato's family have been Oz aficionados, including her
novelist son, Brian D'Amato, who in his essay gives us
special insight into Baum's world.
The story begins at a big centennial Oz festival in
Chicago's Grant Park. Investigative reporter Cat Marsala
rediscovers the wonderful world of Oz when she takes her
six-year-old nephew Jeremy to meet Dorothy and the Tin Man
and to explore the Yellow Brick Road, the Emerald City, and
all the other Oz-inspired creations to be found at the
summer festival celebrating a century of Oz books.
It's opening day, and Cat is babysitting her brother
Barry's young son while Barry, a professional events
organizer, confers with dignitaries. But suddenly a day of
pure delight turns into a scene of horror. Cat and Jeremy
witness a murder, and the chief suspect is a man they both
love -- Barry. He can't be the killer, but Cat also can't
deny what she saw with her own eyes.
Cat's first priority is to get Jeremy away from the
devastation. They run to the merry-go-round, but as they
circle on the brightly painted animals, a shot rings out.
Someone is aiming at Cat, or perhaps at the boy. Could
Barry be desperate enough to shoot at his own sister and
child, the only witnesses to the killing?
Desperate to save Jeremy, Cat grabs him and ducks into one
of the tunnels that lead out to Michigan Avenue. As she and
her nephew crawl for their lives, they know they are not in
Kansas anymore. Someone far more evil than the Wicked Witch
is in pursuit, and the magical world of Oz seems very far
Anthony Award-winning author Barbara D'Amato combines a
fine mystery plot with engaging insights into the ongoing
appeal of the Oz books in this memorable addition to her
acclaimed series. For mystery and Oz fans alike, Hard Road
is a special treat.