Color of Lies
In the Skagit River Valley—gateway to the Pacific Northwest wilderness—vegetation, birds, and people are inexplicably dying. Does the river carry pollutants from illegal waste sites?
A bully’s greed has trapped her victims in a toxic web:
- JoAnne, a former World War II pilot, is wheelchair-bound after an accident veiled in secrets.
- Maria, JoAnne’s niece and professional pilot, masks the unresolved pain of childhood abandonment.
- Spencer, an organic vintner, suspects the rich valley soil has been polluted by undocumented wastes.
- Russell, a spunky 95-year-old ham radio buff, intercepts curious messages that provide clues to the decades-long cover-up.
Threatened with exposure, the perpetrator steps up the assault, and her victims must join with the community to save the valley. All must face difficult truths in order to halt the accumulation of more than one kind of toxic behavior.
Why I wrote Color of Lies
On my first date with my husband I talked about honesty and how I hated lies in any color. The theme resonated and I wrote those words down. It took another three years for a story to follow.
Book Club Questions
Questions created just for you and your groups can be found here.
Q & A about Color of Lies
What inspired you to tell this story and how much is based on research versus experience?
Color of Lies started on my first date with my present husband. One of our discussions was about trust and lies. I heard myself say that there are many colors of lies, and of course I wrote those words down knowing that a story would come. Two years later I glimpsed a woman in a wheelchair, on the tarmac of the Concrete Airport. She sat so elegantly, and I wondered why she was wheelchair-bound. She became my first character and the Concrete Airport became my setting. Adding these elements to my theme of lies, I could begin developing a story.
I write what I know and that can be experiences, places, or memories, but to make a story authentic I research specifics. In the case of Color of Lies, I passed three consecutive years at the annual Concrete Fly-In, observing the pilots, the planes, and those that participated. I interviewed pilots in the Civil Air Patrol and researched Women pilots in World War II. Living in Skagit Valley allowed me to hike Sauk Mountain and visit local vineyards and the old Northern State Hospital. If I am successful, the reader learns without learning, feels what I feel, and the setting and characters seem real.
In Color of Lies Abbe Rolnick creates an antagonist so despicable and repellent that interest in any redemptive qualities keep the reader intrigued and involved in the novel all the way from beginning to end. Molly McCain is a villain as mean and venal as Hannibal Lecter but nowhere near as attractive or lovable as Anthony Hopkins. Power is something that Molly McCain craves and she will destroy anything standing in her way to get it: her family, her neighbors, and the environment.
~Peter G., Reviewer
An enjoyable read, a good mystery, a great message and lesson to be learned. Color of Lies is a story of aviation, history, and the interconnectedness of people. It’s also an effective environmental “why do it” in contrast to the usual mystery “who dunnit.” Rolnick succeeds in pulling all these themes together with a tight plot that keeps the action moving forward to the ultimate denouement.
With great skill Rolnick deftly moves back and forth through multiple points of view.
~Jillian K., Reviewer
Many photos on this site and in Abbe’s Notes are copyright by Jim Wiggins.