Do you have a smartphone, tablet computer or e-reader? Are you curious about getting e-books from Queens Library? This is your chance to test the waters, and also to join readers around the world in experiencing the same good book.

From May 15 until June 1, libraries around the world are taking part in the Big Library Read, encouraging customers to download the engrossing Michael Malone novel The Four Corners of the Sky and read it together. Just go here and click the “ebooks@OverDrive” link to go to Queens Library’s e-book catalog and you will see a big picture of the novel. Click on it to download the e-book and get started!

Part of the fun of a group read is discussing the book afterwards. You can do that right here in the comments section of this blog post. I’ll get the ball rolling with a brief review of the book to whet your appetites.

Author Michael Malone wastes no words before dropping the reader in the thick of the action. The prologue is a whirl of foul weather, broken familial bonds, fear and mystery. Our protagonist is Annie Peregrine Goode, a 26-year-old U.S. Navy fighter pilot whose annual return to her childhood home in North Carolina for her birthday proves fateful.

On her way, a Florida police detective calls to pump her for information on her con-artist father, who abandoned her with her aunt at the family home two decades ago and disappeared. When she arrives, she gets word that her father is dying and that he needs her to fly the old airplane he gave her as a child to meet him in St. Louis. At the same time, her soon-to-be-ex-husband, a fellow Navy pilot, announces he is coming to patch things up.

Got all that? Well, there’s more. Annie’s father, Jack, is suspected of stealing a prized Cuban artifact called the Queen of the Sea, which was looted from Peru four centuries ago, lost in the wreck of a galleon, and retrieved by a Cuban fisherman. And, in a Faulknerian twist, Annie also begins to learn about the dark secrets of her bloodline in that small town—and, perhaps, the long-concealed identity of her own mother.

Malone peppers his story lovingly with quotes and references to classic movies. He has a love for colorful characters, who say bold and sometimes sassy things at unexpected moments. The story tends to drag whenever it tries to move quickly through large chunks of backstory — like the story of Annie’s wedding. When the central adventure of the story — the journey by airplane to St. Louis to resolve an enduring mystery — again becomes the focus, the bumps smooth out a bit and the narrative moves right along. It can be said that Malone has a much more authoritative grasp on the dynamics of con men and father-daughter relationships than he does naval aviation culture.

It sometimes seems like Malone is trying to have it all with The Four Corners of the Sky: a romance novel, a coming-of-age story celebrating female achievement in male-dominated fields, a Southern gothic, and a ripping adventure yarn. The novel is at its best when it’s in the latter mode, dragging the reader through dreary hotel rooms, ancient shipwrecks, desperate fistfights and stormy flights.

Agree? Disagree? Let's hear from you in the comments below!