Ripple Effect deftly mixes writing genres of literary fiction and mystery, leaving readers to wonder where author Cathy Rath has been all this time, and will this be the first of many or a possible series. Ripple Effect by newcomer, Cathy Rath, is a fresh and truly engaging take on family dynamics and family secrets. It is as much a suspense plot-driven narrative as it is a character-driven one that make for a story with a lot of heart and undeniable intrigue. The protagonist, Jeannie Glazer, was three years old in 1952 when her father dies in a car accident on a trip to Atlanta. Sixteen years later, as a college freshman, she is arrested during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. She is released hours later when a sergeant announces that her bail was paid by her “pop” and tosses her an envelope of cash. Stunned and suspicious, Jeannie tells no one, convinced somebody is watching her. Determined to find answers, her search closes in on an even darker secret about her father’s tragic death two decades earlier.
Although Jeannie garners most of the novel's character focus, there are several others that are key to the story and mystery. Some are within the Glazer family, others are pivotal supporting cast of characters., but all that should be, are fully drawn and interesting. Also interesting and admirable is that the novel crosses over two to three time periods, which in the hands of a lesser writer could be tricky, even problematic, but Rath navigates it all with aplomb. It is especially appreciative that the character names and dates as demarkation of each chapter. The reader is quickly drawn into the point of view and the year/decade. All that, and coming in at just under 300 pages, Ripple Effect is one of the most readable books you and your book group should dive into this year.