Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Prodigal Son by Colleen McCullough Review and GIVEAWAY!

The Prodigal Son is a riveting mystery set in 1969. A deadly neurotoxin is missing from Dr. Millie Hunter’s lab. Millie is a gifted biochemist that is married to an even more famous biochemist, Dr. Jim Hunter. She is also the daughter of the Holloman Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, therefore she notifies her dad of the dangerous theft. Shortly thereafter, a rash of mysterious deaths from this toxin spread through this college town. Who stole the toxin and why?

I’ll admit that I couldn’t put this book down. I really wanted to know the end of this mystery. Even after it became apparent who the villain of the book was, I still wanted to keep reading. The mastery of this novel isn’t the mystery as much as the expert building of the layers of wonderful characters. I enjoyed all of the characters; victims and villains and wanted to read more about them. Luckily I can. This book is the fourth in McCullough’s Carmine Delmonico series. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but I still enjoyed this book. Delmonico is related to Patrick O’Donnell and seemingly half of the town, and is the primary investigator on this mystery.

Another interesting aspect of this book was that Dr. Jim Hunter is African American and Dr. Millie Hunter is white. A biracial marriage in 1950’s and 1960’s America is examined as well as the status of women in society. Dr. Millie Hunter is a professional woman in an era when that was uncommon, but she is also always considered beneath her husband in the world’s eye. I thought both angles added interest and depth to the novel. Although I did have questions about McCullough’s handling of race at some points. It would be interesting to discuss this with someone else!  Feel free to comment if you have read the book.

My only complaint about this book is small . . . I really hated the name of the University – Chubb University? It’s supposed to be Ivy League, but all I kept thinking was Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Chubb – which one doesn’t belong? There were also a couple of items that didn’t seem to fit with the times.

I have read Colleen McCullough's historical fiction in the past (The Thorn Birds and Morgan's Run), and it was interesting to see her delve into a new genre.

Overall, I thought The Prodigal Son was a great mystery with wonderfully complex characters.

Book Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster – Thank-you.

Giveaway Details

Simon & Schuster has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of The Prodigal Son by Colleen McCullough.
If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or about author Colleen McCullough.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday January 25th, 2013.

Please make sure to check the first week of February to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


  1. Years ago I read and loved The Thornbirds. I admire Ms. McCullough as an author, have read other HF novels, but nothing this contemporary. The 50s and 60s are an era I lived through. Would love to read this novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I read Colleen McCullogh's older novels which I enjoyed greatly. This one is unique and interesting. thanks for this giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. A fascinating novel which captivated my interest. I like books set in the 50's and 60's since I grew up during those decades. Thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. Omg I love the sound of this book! I like books set in the 60's because of the fashion, and generally the way people were hush hush about certain things and the way things were done. The 50's too. I love mysteries and and to combine them both! YAY! I agree with you...Chubbs? LOL.

    Thanks for the giveaway!!

    My email: mrsjtucker2012 [at] hotmail [dot] com

  5. I have read and loved The Thorn Birds and this book is a nice surprise. It seems so different from her historicals so I am curious to read it. I do like the time period.


  6. I am so glad to hear that you liked this book--I heard about it on another blog and was intrigued by the plot. I have enjoyed a lot of McCullough's books in the past (the Roman series, Morgan's Run, etc.) but thought her P&P sequel about Mary Bennet just dreadful, which made me think she had lost her edge. Now, I want to read this one.

    Sign me up for the giveaway!


    BTW, I'm with you on Chubb--she should've picked a different name :)

  7. I really like the cover of this book that intrigues. It makes me wonder where the setting is and in what time period. It kind of looks like the '60s or '70s at Oxford.


  8. I love the idea of reading a mystery that is sort of pre-contemporary so explores the culture as well as provides a good suspense plot.

    I have never read Colleen McCullough, but eventually I do want to read Thorn Birds.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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