Allan Mayer's "Tasting the Wind" brought back memories of my visits to a long-term-care facility where my mother had spent some time. Allan's characters are so well developed and real-life that I could put faces on them from my meetings with similar caregivers and patients. The descriptions of patients' treatment by the various staff are so authentic, and the anecdotes so real, that one cannot help wonder if the author is writing from first-hand experiences?
While the setting of a story in a group-home may not be appealing to some readers, Allan's use of a novel device, the weaving of a murder mystery and humour into the plot, makes the book come alive and a page-turner.
I found the start of the story where an unusual death occurs in a hospital, and its revelation as a murder some years later, captivating. It made me wanting to read on and learn if there might be more similar deaths and the murderer brought to justice. At the same time we learn of the complexities, the difficulties and the intense human interactions needed to run a health care facility. The real life needs and desires of mentally challenged and disabled people are portrayed in a non-intrusive manner that makes us empathise with them. Although Allan brings out his characters on the pages in quick succession, as if in a play, I used the standard technique employed in the theatre, and prepared a list of the cast (in their order of appearance) along with their roles. Perhaps Allan may consider this in his next novel, which might be a sequel? I for one would be interested in learning more about the patients' lives, we had come to esteem, and get to know how they got along in later years.
Reviewed by: Waheed Rabbani, author of, "Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest."