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Conundrum [Kindle Edition]

C. S. Lakin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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

A powerful women's fiction novel by award-winning author C. S. Lakin

A mysterious death buries painful, shocking secrets for twenty-five years ...

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 explores the rocky landscape of betrayal and truth, asking whether a search for truth is worth the high cost. An intense women's fiction novel about love, family, and relationship.

Editorial Reviews


Winner ~ one of the 8 best Kindle books of 2014 ~ Digital Book Today
"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: 2804 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • 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:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,509 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 41 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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10 of 12 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible plot, flat characters, January 31, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
In an attempt to help her suicidal, bipolar brother, Lisa seems to find out the truth about her father's life and death. She's not going to find those answers from her controlling, emotionally abusive mother, who discourages the odyssey. Her brothers are reluctant to help, her husband has left her, only her best friend, and estranged uncle and his family seem on her side.
CONUNDRUM has so many flaws it's hard to know where to begin. The characters are flat and one dimensional, the plot implausible, and the writing contrived. Are we really to believe Lisa, in her first person narrative, repeatedly quotes poetry in her head? If CS Lakin wanted to use her presumed love of poetry in the narrative, she would have been better off using quotes to start each chapter. The only positive aspect of this novel is that although completely unrealistic, the writer did flesh out the plot.
I forced myself to finish CONUNDRUM, because I hate not finishing novels. I don't recommend this book.
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11 of 14 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 5 months ago by Kristen T. Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars Conundrum
This was one of the best books I have read in a long time kept my interest all the way through, any age could read this book
Published 5 months ago by Janet Rider
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book!
I loved reading this book and could hardly put . I only wish that there was more written about the Mother and how she finally got what was coming to her. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Beverley Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars the perfect title
This book truly drew you in and then tumbled you through all the waves of truth hidden and revealed. The writing itself was smooth and carried you along easily. Well done !
Published 6 months ago by anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thought it was good
Published 6 months ago by bonnielbatchelor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Draws you in. Interesting
Published 7 months ago by Karen M. Todd
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Serious Book About a Problem That Destroys Families --...
This is an absolutely terrific book by a woman who is an amazingly good writer. I wonder if some of the people who have critique this book here actually finished it because the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ed Markel
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice easy read but a little jumbled.
I enjoyed the book but I was a little puzzled by some of the character development.
Nice "current" story but a little jumbled.
Published 8 months ago by Kevin G. Bowler
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 8 months ago by Marilyn Kenton
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
not memorable.n.
Published 8 months ago by Keeper of Magic
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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!

She also publishes writing craft books in the series The Writer's Toolbox, which help novelists learn how to write great books!

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

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