Halfa Moon
Halfa Moon
Dust Jacket Hardcover
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Meg Randallman is just four years old when her six-year-old sister Laura dies and her mother, Norma, kidnaps Meg and her brother, Ray. Meg often wonders how different her personality might have been had she not experienced the brutal shock and grief of Laura’s death during her formative years. For seventeen years, Meg is haunted by the guilt and misunderstanding of her sister’s death, unable to talk about the tragedy with anyone. In her affluent new home, she buries herself in music and academics and graduates from Stanford with honors. After landing a job in cyber security at “the Lab,” she finds friendship and romance. She also finds herself in the crosshairs of corporate espionage when she fills a position formerly held by a woman who was murdered. A novel filled with the elements of murder, romance, mystery, and family conflict, Halfa Moon narrates the story of one young girl’s journey from innocence to experience.
Just before we reached the edge of the woods that flanked the bottom of the mountain, the asphalt was covered with a blanket of leaves. Christine stumbled reached out for my arm to catch her balance and swore. “I’m sorry. It was one of those nasty little balls!” “Nasty little balls?” “Yeah! Those trees,” she pointed to the closest liquid amber. “The seedpods are like a flail without the chain.” She reached down and picked up the culprit that caused her to nearly fall. “These nasty little balls have spikes, but worse, if you don’t notice them you can seriously twist an ankle.” She threw the nasty little ball off into the woods away from the well-worn path on which we had begun to walk. The wind subsided a bit as we entered the forest in earnest. The path rose and curved as it circumvented tree trunks, saplings sprouting on the verge of the path, and thorny bushes that were pushing shoots to the sunlight between the trees. It was quiet and noisy at the same time. Quiet as the lovely trees absorbed us; noisy with the sound of communicating birds. I took a deep breath enjoying the freshness of the clear air and the beauty around me. I was about to thank Christine on my exhale when she said, “I think someone is following me.” I turned abruptly and looked behind us. She said, “No, not right now. I mean like kind of stalking me. I keep seeing this black car with dark tinted windows outside or down the street from my house and outside and down the street from my club.” Her voice was a bit shaky; her eyes looking back over the canyon drop and the glinting stream that threaded along the ledge beneath the parking lot and wrapped itself around the Lab building. It was her turn to take a deep breath, and then exhale. Her voice steadied, “But worse than that, I just feel it. You know what I mean? I feel like someone is watching me.” “How awful! Can you think of any reason why someone would be?” “Well, I’ve thought it for a long time, but after that girl from the Lab was murdered last month I—” “What?” I interrupted. “I didn’t hear anything about that. Tell me.” “Yeah. I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it. It’s been all over the news. You filled her position. I filled in between her and you.” She kicked a pile of leaves that fluttered into the air. Most likely she was making sure there were no nasty little balls hiding within. My heart jumped and felt like it fluttered with the leaves, “Oh my! I suppose it was because I was pressing on with my thesis and studying for finals. That was stressful craziness. How was she murdered?” Christine took another breath to steady an obvious welling of emotion, “She was found strangled in her home.” I put my hand instinctively to my throat. “Strangled.” I repeated stupidly. “Are you OK? Come, sit here.” I motioned to a fallen log that had been worn shiny by weather and probably many Lab Rat bottoms. I sat mine down leaving room for Christine’s. “They don’t know if the attack was connected to the Lab. They took her laptop case, but she was just using it to bring home some other stuff. Her laptop was still docked here.” She pointed to the building. I looked at the building confusedly as if I could see a laptop behind the cement wall, “If they had gotten it though, they would not have been able to get any sensitive information because, as you know, our laptops don’t have hard drives.” “I know that and you know that, but maybe the murderer didn’t know that. Maybe he was trying to get something from her and now he’s looking for another way…” She studied her black manicure for a moment, “and another girl.” She folded her hands under her arms and shivered as if a chill ran through her shoulders. “I think it’s me. In fact I think he has, or they have, been watching me for a long time; probably at the same time he or they were watching her.” “Oh Christine!” I reached out to rub the outside of her arm. “That is so scary. Have you talked to the police?” “Ya.” She said evenly. “I called the Walnut Creek Police Department – her apartment is, er, was in Walnut Creek -- and asked for the detective that handled Brenda’s case. Brenda Arthur was her name. You took her place.” “You said that.” It was my turn to shiver. I felt a chill run from my shoulder blades up my neck to the base of my skill. “What do you mean? Was she in cyber security?” A huge brown spider lowered its shiny body down from a branch on a tree behind Christine. It was far enough away from her not to mention it. The spider’s creepy presence triggered a second shudder. “Ya.” She looked really sorry that she had told me. She searched my face to see if I looked upset. If she read correctly she would know that I was greatly distressed, but was at that moment more concerned for her safety rather than my own. She continued, “But, she didn’t sit where you do. She was on the floor above us over toward the windowless wall that has murals on it. All the floors are like that, like ours – with murals on the backside of the building – except the basement, which doesn’t have any windows at all.” The spider reached the ground and thankfully did a tiptoe dance in the opposite direction from us. I lost sight of it when it went around the trunk of the tree.
Joan Bannan has written four nonfiction books. She lives in Northern California in a small city with too many roundabouts, in a home with too many birds. This is her first novel.
I loved this book. I didn't want to put it down. A great story about a sensitive soul in a high tech world. It would make a great gift for someone who craves wholesome reading.
This book was full of feeling, as it describes a young girl's journey through the early years of life and how the situations/struggles that occurred had impacted her adult life. I closely identified with the relationship between her and the elderly "grandma" figure, who provided a safe haven for her. The story had a nice build up into suspense and intrigue. Loved the ending with a full circle discovery of the actual truth of her past.
Susan Batty 
This book was written so it played like a movie in my head. I found I kept reading it chapter after chapter because it flowed in such a way I wanted to know more. Great book.
Amber Rafemacher  

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