Venice Beach by Emily Gallo 50’s. This is the first in a series of novels that features a Jonestown survivor, Jed. Having already read The Columbarium, the second in the series, I decided to begin at the beginning and find out more about the psychological complexity of Jed. I t turns out that Finn is the character who takes center stage. A formerly successful writer who has taken to drink (contending that he is not an alcoholic but “just Irish”), Finn moves from New York to his daughter’s home in California after the death of his wife. Unable to break through his writer’s block, he frequents the boardwalk of Venice Beach where he encounters, among others, a charming hoarder/Holocaust survivor, an aspiring writer who idolizes him, a cat named Mother, Jamaican street performers, and Jed, now homeless, whose life is haunted by the childhood he spent in Guyana and the searing memory of the death of his mother and sister in the infamous mass suicide-murder. Uncovering Jed’s story provides Finn a path to a meaningful book. You would think that I have given the whole plot away. But no. Strange coincidences and dangers are at the heart of the story, and the warmth of human bonds permeates the book. The plot twists got me up at 5AM to see how it all came out. I am looking forward to the sequel to The Columbarium.