Tangled Ties to a Manatee by Kalen Cap
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (346 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
A pregnant manatee is rare at any zoo, and a first for the Grove City Zoo in Ohio. Ankh is a delight to zoo patrons, a concern to its staff, and the unintentional victim of two con men. She has no idea how many human relationships, problems, and dreams tangle around her.
Jerry is a young developmentally disabled man who happily follows Ankh's pregnancy on the zoo's webcam. He has a shy crush on Janelle, a pretty college student who volunteers for his group home’s outings to the zoo.
Jerry's Aunt Vera also loves nature and runs an environmental retreat center. But all is not well, with Vera or the center. The center needs money and is under investigation as a cult.
Amid their college studies, Janelle and her friend Cecily try to help. Instead, Janelle re-awakens an old obsession in Vera when an innocent tarot reading hints at how the center might be saved.
Two bumbling con men are attempting to sabotage the region’s electrical grid as part of a lucrative scheme. But Jerry accidentally gets in their way and becomes their captive.
When the con men surprisingly succeed in bringing the grid down, it spells danger for Ankh, her unborn pup, and the many people tied to them both. With investigations of their own, Cecily and Janelle try to untangle it all to find Jerry, save a manatee’s life, and rescue Vera from herself.
Tangled Ties to a Manatee is a humorous crime thriller with environmental themes that is revealed through multiple points of view. The novel emphasizes college-aged characters, though not all, such as the developmentally disabled ones, are in college.
Have you ever seen the world through the eyes of a manatee? I started reading Tangled Ties to a Manatee knowing it would be told through multiple viewpoints, but I had no idea I’d be able to glimpse the world through the eyes of Ankh, the manatee, as well as more than a dozen other characters. Mr. Cap does an excellent job of clearly marking the transitions between each of the viewpoints. He even skillfully switches the viewpoint between characters within the same exchange, and I was never confused about what was going on.
However, I must admit that the switches between the characters did take a bit of getting used to. I felt like I would just get settled into reading about one character and then I’d have to move on to a different one. This unsettled feeling was brief and it wasn’t long before I settled into the rhythm of the book and was able to fully enjoy the windows into the characters’ lives. I was also pleasantly surprised that Mr. Cap was able to achieve real character depth with so many viewpoints vying for attention. Some characters are clearly more developed than others, but only a few are strictly “types.”
I really enjoyed watching many of the characters grow, or in some cases stay the same, as the story progressed. It was even more fun discovering how all of their lives were intertwined. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite character from this book, but if I had to make a choice, it would be Jerry. I thought that Mr. Cap presented Jerry’s life and developmental disabilities in a very real and yet sensitive way. Jerry knows he has a hard time doing things that other people don’t, but he has good heart and a healthy dose of courage and motivation to succeed in life. He is truly an inspiration. Seeing the world through Ankh’s eyes was also one of the unique parts of the book.
Though Mr. Cap doesn’t spend a lot of time in Ankh’s viewpoint, her simple and gentle thoughts seemed very natural to me and were definitely memorable and one of the things I liked most about Tangled Ties to a Manatee. Not only is Tangled Ties to a Manatee filled with a diverse group of interconnected characters, but the story also touches on a wide array of themes. Relationships are central in a story with so many characters and Mr. Cap touches on everything from simple friendship and budding romance to divorce. Each character and their actions ripple out to affect others in the story.
I must again commend Mr. Cap for being able to develop and manage so many characters in one story. Reading Tangled Ties to a Manatee was certainly an interesting experience. The longer I read, the further I was pulled into the “tangled” lives of all the characters. I highly recommend this Tangled Ties to a Manatee to anyone looking for a different kind of suspense.