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Conundrum [Kindle Edition]

C. S. Lakin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

Conundrum explores the landscape of family betrayal, suicide, depression, and loss, while inspiring hope and the belief that through pain can come redemption and even joy. This is one woman's journey of discovery--to find not only the truth of her father's death but her lost self that has been wandering from childhood.

A happily married man with three small children decides one day he no longer wants to live. He gives himself leukemia and nine months later is dead. 

This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her dead father--the tale her mother, Ruth, told Lisa and her two brothers, Rafferty and Neal, throughout their childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching Raff suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow save her brother. For Raff's pain is intrinsically tied up with feelings of parental abandonment. 

What starts as a noble goal for Lisa soon grows into a vicious family war, wreaking destruction on Lisa's marriage. Lisa discovers details of her parents' relationship that her mother has long hidden.

Shocking clues appear as Lisa reads a letter her father, Nathan, wrote before he died, prompting her to visit Nathan's former boss, Ed Hutchinson. From him, Lisa learns that her engineer father helped design a generator run by radioactive materials. Ed lets slip that Nathan participated in a dangerous secret experiment, a fact her mother discounts as Nathan's cause of death.

Accusations and excuses fly. Yet, how much of what Lisa uncovers is true? Is truth solely subjective?

Lisa sifts through layers of lies as she journeys into her father's story, seeking to understand this man she never knew. Meanwhile, her mother responds in fury and tries to destroy Lisa's life, determined to keep Lisa from uncovering her dark secrets. 

Conundrum asks whether a search for truth is worth the price, and shows how separating from toxic family members might sometimes be the only recourse for survival. Lisa pays a high price for truth, but in the end finds it worthwhile.

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Editorial Reviews


"Both thought-provoking and gripping----impossible to put down. The story draws the reader into the mystery, the facts behind the betrayal, and makes the reader as invested in finding the truth as are the characters. Impossible to impossible to stop thinking about days and weeks later. Impossibly good."

"With her intelligent, insightful prose, Lakin has created very real,flawed characters struggling with raw, debilitating circumstances. However, she manages to do so while yet maintaining her own standards. More importantly, she broaches the themes of hope, healing, forgiveness and compassion."

From the Back Cover

Lies may hurt, but the truth can be murder . . .
A happily married man with three small children decides one day he no longer wants to live. He gives himself leukemia and nine months later is dead.

This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her long-dead father--the tale her mother, Ruth, repeated throughout Lisa's childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching her older brother, Raff, suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow save him. For Raff's pain is intrinsically tied up with feelings of parental abandonment.

What starts as a noble goal for Lisa, though, soon grows into a vicious family war that wreaks destruction on her marriage and upends her life. Shocking clues arise as she reads a letter her father wrote before he died, prompting her to go on a journey beset with conflicting tales and startling disclosures. Those who had known her father give hints of radiation exposure, a dangerous physics experiment, and lurid affairs.

But which stories are truth and which are lies? Is truth only a matter of interpretation, or has the truth been colored by those hiding dark, terrible secrets? Although Lisa pays a high price in her search for the father she never knew, she finds an answer to the conundrum that brings her to a place of healing and reconciliation. She had sought to save her brother, but in the end, unknowingly, she saves herself.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2808 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615687628
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ubiquitous Press (December 31, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005WD0GGS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,131 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling March 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is filled with quotes, poems and puzzles like the story's namesake. There are several angst filled story lines, and we begin with the threat of a breakdown from the main character's brother, Raff. In the midst of that chaos is the mystery of her father's death, the potential breakdown of her marriage, miscarriage and the discovery that her siblings are not what they seem.

It was all one big downer for me. I couldn't really relate to any of the characters. The chaos was mostly self-imposed and selfish. Sons refused to cut the apron strings; husbands lacked backbones through more than one generation. It was a very catty and uncomfortable ride through a family history that I'm glad is not my own.

Towards the end of the tale flashbacks were used and really disoriented the flow of the story for me. It felt like the author was trying to make the story longer and while there was more to read I didn't think it pushed the story along. I wish the ending had a more powerful triumphant message it was a let-down after all the pain the characters had suffered.

I would recommend this book to those that enjoy drama and unbelievable constant torment.

I received a free copy to honestly review.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Puzzle Piece of a Novel That Doesn't Quite Fit December 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Conundrum, by C.S. Lakin, is told from the viewpoint of a heroine for the twentieth century, Lisa Sitteroff. She's a woman in the midst of an increasingly bad marriage, dealing with the institionalzation of her bi-polar brother Rafferty, caught between her husband's wishes and her mother's demands, and obsessed with finding out the reason her deceased father willingly contracted leukemia.

Lakin spins a tale replete with pieces of poems, quotes, and a slew of cultural references such as the old television series 'The Time Tunnel' and the Challenger explosion in the eighties. It's a slow moving, but engrossing book with an insiders look at a dysfunctional family unit that has slowly become the norm over the last thirty years. All the characters are fleshed out, especially Rafferty, who seems to be the heart of the book in comparison to Lisa's soul.

Lastly, it's a well-written novel with excellent dialogue. The flow may be a little rocky at times but, like the puzzle it emulates, when you slip the last piece in place and look at the finished product you'll concede it's a story worth reading. Three stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, true-to-life drama June 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
For my complete review, visit [...], Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind.

Conundrum resonated with me on many levels, having experiences which mirrored those in the book: depression, bipolar disorder, failing interpersonal relationships, self-deception and unhappiness. Ms. Lakin takes these issues head-on, as she does marital discord, infertility and financial disaster.

She takes them on, works her characters through them one incredibly painful step at a time, offers some hope, allows others the imperfect happiness they have fought for, and stepped away from still others in disassociation to protect the rest. Neither does she leave any of them faultless or absolutely justified in their actions, even the best-meaning of them. In Conundrum, there are no absolutes, no pat answers, no definitive "vorpal sword to defeat the Jabberwok".

Set in 1986, in rural-ish Marin Country, California, north of San Francisco, the central plot of the story revolves around Lisa's journey into her father's past. A brilliant mathematician, Nathan Sitterhoff worked in the aerospace industry which provided nuclear energy for the long-distance space probes of the Gemini project. In this story within the story, well-developed and well-researched, Ms. Lakin's plot, characters, and motivations all ring true.

In the process of uncovering the truth one fragment at a time, Lisa Sitterhoff alienates her family and raises more questions than she could ever hope to answer. Seeking out associations 25 years gone, each character involved relates their own personal, often conflicting truths.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUSPENSE March 10, 2014
By Habugal
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A story full of intrigue and suspense! A totally surprising ending! C S Lakin can definitely keep one's attention! It's hard to put her books down. This was the first book I read by her and just finished another, Intended for Harm. It definitely won't be my last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow! January 29, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book a tremendous read. A true mystery with deep psychological insights. And poetry to boot. For the first time I under stood some of the beautiful and timeless words of T.S. Elliott. Thank you C.S. Larkin for showing me this beauty of words. This was a can't put down book. If you like mysteries, you will love this deep book. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Heady Read January 14, 2014
By VKFlair
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
C.S. Lakin's Conundrum was one of those books that captured my interest quickly, and page by page did not disappoint. Though at times I found myself chewing through long passages, it was a delicious journey. Heartfelt, thoughtful and surprising, Conundrum is a gem to be admired.

I found the author's use of quotes, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carol, were well used, further elucidating each character's personal plights. I always love a reference to the Jabberwocky, myself. Each chapter was engaging, each passage bringing me a tiny bit closer to understanding the torments and joys of this complicated family.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Conundrum, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys puzzles - both of the mind, and the heart. A truly well-written story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Ended before it began!
This was one of the rare novels that I couldn't get into it past the first chapter. It may have been a Pulitzer Prize winner, but I just couldn't get in to this one very quickly.
Published 16 days ago by Janice K Hurst
5.0 out of 5 stars Many mini mysteries!
This book was difficult to get interested in, but what a wonderful woven web to discover the simple truths within! Brilliantly written!
Published 1 month ago by RedLadyRider
5.0 out of 5 stars Aptly named book
Lisa certainly experiences many emotions in this book along with heartaches and mystery. Enjoyed the twists and turns with unexpected happenings.
Published 1 month ago by Sally Dikos
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story line
A little confusing with all the quotes. Good story line. I would recommend it, but I didn't like the ending.
Published 1 month ago by Sandra Gabrielle
2.0 out of 5 stars Waiting and waiting
I put it down so many times I can't remember much about it. It didn't capture my attention .I kept waiting and waiting for it to sweep me away and it didn't happen . Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fawn
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not like it at all
I did not like this book at all. In fact, I did not even finish it, as I could not even get into it.
Published 1 month ago by Carol Cohen
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing plot
The plot was engaging and was a new idea for a story. The only problem was that the author would lose me when she went into long imagined scenarios of what occurred in the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rhea Frizzell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
I really enjoyed this book. I have to admit that my expectations were not very high as it was a free book through BookBub. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rita N.
5.0 out of 5 stars Conundrum
Enjoyed this book. It challenged one to solve the mystery and provided a nice blend of pertinent historical literature throughout. Read more
Published 2 months ago by nancy
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible plot, flat characters,
Years ago, Lisa's father committed suicide by willing himself to get leukemia, or so the story goes. If you buy into that premise, you might enjoy this book more than me. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pink Amy
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More About the Author

C. S. Lakin is an award-winning novelist, writing instructor, and professional copyeditor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lakin's award-winning blog for writers: provides deep writing instruction and posts on industry trends. Her site features her critique services. She teaches workshops and critiques at writing conferences and workshops around the country.

The first six books in her seven-book fantasy series, The Gates of Heaven, are out in print and ebook, allegorical fairy tales drawing from classic tales we all read in our childhood.

Lakin's relational drama/mystery, Someone to Blame, won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel award, released October 2010. Her other suspense/mysteries are Innocent Little Crimes (top 100 in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest), A Thin Film of Lies, and Conundrum. And sci-fi enthusiasts will love Time Sniffers: a wild young adult romance that will entangle you in time!

Follow her on Twitter: @cslakin and @livewritethrive and like her Facebook Author Page:

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