Down Wind and Out of Sight
Archway Publishing (2022)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (01/23)
When invited to be in charge of an estate called Bohemia Manor, in the Chesapeake Bay area on the east coast of the United States, Accountant Hugh Ullam, decides to leave his aboriginal homeland of Australia and take on this new challenge. In doing so, he leaves behind a painful past.
Upon arrival, he discovers that it is more complicated that he expected as one of the family members in the manor is a capricious teenage daughter who frustrates her father and keeps the staff on his or her toes. When the father announces his plans to travel the world, Hugh and the rest of the staff are left to manage his daughter. Hugh adds a few more employees to help run the place, all individuals looking to escape from mainstream society, doing whatever it takes to live in seclusion on this property. Hugh refers to the group as “The Hole in the Wall Gang.”
Trying to appropriately care for the teen is a huge challenge for all. Giving in to her whims of creating a huge scientific experiment results in a catastrophic incident, which the gang must cover up. Unfortunately, it draws unwanted attention from the authorities. Some of these individuals have already proven themselves belligerent racists. The gang has to get extra creative to avoid the truth being uncovered.
“Down Wind and Out of Sight” is an amazing novel that is full of complexities. I found myself completely caught off guard as I delved deeper into the pages. Richardson skillfully blends in several themes, topics that I would have previously assumed to be too unrelated to be able to connect together into a story. Not only does he make it work, he creates a masterpiece by doing so. He incorporates racism, autism, systemic abuse of aboriginal people, and how marine life are impacted by technology. These are just to name a few. The technology used in this story actually goes much further than affecting marine life; it also drastically affects humans, but still readers gain some insight into marine events that have actually taken place.
Early on in my reading, I checked a couple of times to make sure that I was not reading a non-fiction book. Towards the end, I found myself checking to see if some of these places actually existed. Having spent much time on the Chesapeake Bay, I can concur that the descriptions are quite realistic. I was excited to see that the Bohemia Manor actually exists! Even though the story was created in the author’s imagination, I enjoyed seeing the actual photos of the place.
The eccentric cast of characters makes for more interesting reading. While not always likable, they are endearing. These are people who were brought together to protect a family empire, and the life of a teenager who is on the spectrum. This quirky young woman adds so much to the drama! In addition to the typical teenage hormonal angst, they are also trying to figure out how to work best with her neurodivergent traits. This aspect of the story was completely realistic. The catastrophe created by the teen added a thrilling dimension to the plot.
“Down Wind and Out of Sight,” is a must read for readers who enjoy unique thrillers, suspense, and mystery. You will not be disappointed. I look forward to future works by Douglas Richardson.