Pete Kennedy recently observed that songwriting is like taking a novel and boiling it down to 12 lines. He would know, having written more than a few songs, individually and with his singing (and life) partner Maura in the folk-rock group The Kennedys. Fans of the band know that Pete's also a great prose writer from their newsletter's "30 Seconds At The Coffee Shop" observations, and Pete's guitar memoir "Tone, Twang and Taste."
[Full disclosure: Pete and Maura Kennedy are friends of mine.]
Reading "Floodwood," I'm reminded of my nephew, around age 5 or 6, who was already well into a fascination with astronomy and could name all the planets (Pluto not yet dwarfed) plus the moons of each one. Little Matt would start taking science, and at some point he would transition from actual science to stuff he was making up. You couldn't tell where that line was, though, until you were well into the realm of fiction. I've been around Westchester; some of the locales are familiar. Floodwood is a real place (something I learned from hearing Pete talk about the book). Some of the locales sent me running to Google Earth to see if it was real or not. (And I have actually been to the San-jusangen-do Temple in Kyoto, which is as amazing as the description in the book). No matter -- don't worry about that go with the flow and you'll go on a ride around the world, with lots of myth and mysticism and historical facts (at least I assume they're all really historical facts!) thrown in. In a unique bad-ass in Artemis Fletcher, who -- among other talents -- designs and builds her own crossbows.
I can't say much about the plot without giving away too much, except there are werewolves (or a were-creature anyway), secret agents, friends of "Mr. Langley" (hint - the CIA is there), and more twists and turns than the Saw Mill Parkway.
I love writers who take me places I've never been, and "Floodwood" does that, and then some. Having heard Pete read a tiny part of the book, I'd suggest the audio book, but the paperback has a gorgeous cover (by Jen Lennox, a friend of the Kennedys).