3.5 out of 5: In the backwoods of Kentucky, Olivia Harker Cross struggles to raise her grandson while living with her cantankerous mother and maintaining the family grocery business. Everything’s fine in this unconventional family until poachers start killing the Alaskan silver wolves brought to Kentucky by Olivia’s grandfather. As Olivia investigates the poachers, she uncovers decades-old secrets and must protect her family from the resulting dangers.
This story unfolds from the first-person point of view as Olivia narrates current events and mixes in memories from her childhood. Olivia’s unique voice is the center of gravity for this novel; it’s a constant and compelling force:
All in all, I have a crazy ma'am who owns a hundred dusty Bibles, a leggy boy with a too-soft heart, and no man to bed down with. And an Alaskan silver dying on my kitchen floor.
As engaging as it is, Olivia’s voice cannot compensate for this novel’s awkward plotting. The action in the final third of the book feels contrived, loaded with convenient coincidences and overly dramatic scenes. This final section, which reads like a thriller, is out of character with the pacing and style of the first two-thirds of the book. As I mentioned in a prior post, Sweeping Up Glass has the best first chapter I’ve read recently. Although the rest of the book didn’t live up to the initial promise of the first chapter, Sweeping Up Glass is an enjoyable and worthwhile read, particularly for those who like reading mysteries.