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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
Strangler figs are rainforest plants that wrap their roots around a host tree, eventually killing it. So, Ramona Ortenga Alterhood Jackson is born to a dead mother and is left by a priest at a local California hospital where baby Ramona is adopted by Sophie and Frank Jackson. When she grows up, she works for a California newspaper, The North County Times, where she works for Mark and with Aleko, both of whom she trusts and feels are her friends. Then Ramona finds her life is in danger when she investigates a horrific double murder of a young Native American girl and a priest. Mark takes her to a local artists' colony where she'll be supposedly safe, but she is not and is brutally attacked by a man called Pango who was the waiter when Mark took Ramona to dinner one night. Ramona is descended from the original Ramona of the famous Helen Hunt Jackson novel and she knows that supposedly she has inherited the Ortenga jewels but it would seem there is a shadowy group that is after something else hidden with the jewels.
"The Strangler Figs" is a first-rate thriller with Dan Brown overtones as the heroine, the main character Ramona Jackson, finds that she is up against a group that will choke the life force of religion as it is known. Characters are well-created and totally believable. Some of them are downright scary and unpredictable. Ramona finds that people she thought were friends are not so at all. The plot is intricate as it goes into religious beliefs and the complexity of a numerical code at the core of this thriller. Well-written, well-edited and eye-opening, "The Strangler Figs" is a must-read book.