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From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense--the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down miFrom the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense--the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela's father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed--that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmark, with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date....

Title : celine a novel
Author :
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ISBN : 31186474
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

celine a novel Reviews

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-10-14 11:52

    3.5 Once again Heller presents us with a very interesting character. Céline, late sixties, uses oxygen for her emphysema, is a PI, specializing in uniting families, finding the missing. Why she does so is explained by her back story, and it is also why she agrees to take on a new case. A father missing for over twenty years, Paul a famed wildlife photographer, said to have been mauled and dragged by a grizzly outside of Yellowstone. No body, however, has ever been found.Her character, as much as I liked her, was sometimes a little too unbelievable, or maybe over the top. I actually found the character of her husband Pete to be the more realistic portrayal. This book was entertaining but not without flaws, the writing not as gritty, not as edgy as in the Painter. His descriptions of the Fall foliage in the park though were beautiful and definitely one of the strengths in this novel. Heller always does such a fantastic job in his settings.Went to a 3.5 because I felt the ending was too pat, too unrealistic. There was so much I liked about this one, the descriptions, the wonderful writing, the steady pacing but there were also things I missed that I found in his first two novels. Almost felt like this could be a screenplay, can see it played out, a bit unrealistic and larger than life, ending and all. Definitely though consider this well worth reading, there is much to like and Céline is a very novel character. ARC from Knopf publishing.

  • Carol
    2018-11-14 12:54

    The Hook - Having read, heard and enjoyed Peter Heller before, this is a natural for me. I will get to see him once again when I attend Booktopia 2017 in Manchester, Vermont.The Line - ”Celine always rooted for the weak, the dispossessed, the children, for the ones who had no means or power: the strays and homeless, the hapless and addicted, the forlorn, the remorseful, the broken.“The Sinker - Celine represents all the best of Heller’s writing style, knowledge and expertise. His passages that describe the wilds, nature, fishing, hunting, painting, and the beauty of a photograph, are stellar. His characters are often rough-edged and Celine, the protagonist in this story that is her namesake, is no different. A PI, who mostly deals in reuniting birth parents and their birth children, Celine is a woman to heed. Somewhere there’s a past that we are only getting a glimpse of, one in which she learned to shoot, to fight, to become a strong, and self-sufficient woman. Her ability to read people and honed instincts make her perfect for her job though the heartache she sometimes deals with can take their toll. A recovering alcoholic with emphysema, one who takes many risks, she has little to lose, in her own words ”I am already dead.”. Celine’s Watson, Pa or Pete, a man of few words, adds depth, wisdom, and peace to her strength. When a young woman approaches Celine to get to the bottom of the disappearance of her father, an award-winning photographer who went missing in Yellowstone over twenty years ago, she accepts the assignment with trepidation. I found Celine somewhat uneven. Celine is aching in its tale of love and loss but there were times I was confused in the flow of the mystery. I enjoyed the story when Heller was on his game in passages like this:”It was that time of day, or night, that happens only a few weeks a year at a certain hour in certain parts of the American West. The sun sets behind mountains but the cloudless sky that is more than cloudless, it is lens clear—clear as the clearest water--holds the light entirely, holds it in a bowl of pale blue as f reluctant to let it go. The light refines the edges of the ridges to something honed and the muted colors of the pines on the slopes, the sage-roughened fields, the houses in the valley—the colors pulse with the pleasure of release, as if they know that within the hour they too will rest."Or in this description of a photograph:”It could begin in the tilt of her head, the angle, the light tension it put on the neck so that she seemed at once poised and relaxed, the way a violin can look—or a bird. Celine thought of the great blue heron in Baboo’s cattails, just below the porch. How the bird would stand, it seemed for hours, neck stretched over the shallows in effortless balance, between stillness and strike. Because the strike would inevitably come. Celine used to think that if eternity was anywhere it was somehow contained in the attitude of this bird. Everything the heron had done, and would do, and was so now so perfectly not doing, was contained in her bearing. And so Amana. As she tipped her head she was both bowing to time—there is no mercy there, that is clear—but she was also gathering herself, her focus, for something that went beyond acceptance. She had acted and she would act, and there would be love in the action, and imagination. In whatever she did. That was also clear.”Celine is a quirky character with a story to tell, one that might not be finished. If so, I’m willing to go along for the ride.

  • Cheri
    2018-11-13 12:27

    ”Celine had inherited the mantle of a family who had come on the first boat and worked hard and made good, and often the mantle chafed, and she was happiest when she took it off and tossed it on a hook with her beret.”Celine begins one year and one day after the Twin Towers fell, filling the air with ashes, and despair. That May, her younger sister died, followed in July, her sister Bobby, the eldest followed. And now the Towers. Three months. Loss upon loss upon loss. ”Lying in bed that night while she cried silently beside him, Pete realized that Bobby was the North Tower and Mimi the South. And of course the collapsing buildings were much more than that, too. They were a burning message that a certain world had passed. Her sisters had been the last of the family she’d been born into. Celine’s inner and outer world mirrored each other.”Celine Watkins is 68 years old, a Private Investigator who specializes in locating those people who manage to avoid being found, adoption-related quests to reunite birth families. So when Gabriella Ambrosio Lamont, approaches her to find her father, Paul or find out the truth behind her father’s reported death, she eagerly accepts the challenge. Her husband, Pete, is her partner in their PI business, her “Watson,” and it doesn’t take too long for this search to have them following trails that lead them to Yosemite and surrounding areas. This is where Peter Heller shines. If you’ve read his The Dog Stars, which I loved, or The Painter, you’ll know his ability to paint a landscape with words is masterful, words which will transport you there, taking it all in. Heller continues to reveal the scenic beauty with the touch of an artist. Pete is the kind of guy who doesn’t get flustered too easily, and it’s a good thing because Celine is a woman who seemingly has no fear and is somewhat of a scene-stealer. They’re both in their later years, Celine has emphysema, which plays a role, and her behavior can sometimes add a precarious nature to situations. Pete is by nature a go with the flow kind of guy, but it’s a dynamic that only comes with spending a lifetime knowing how the other works, anticipating what comes next. Poised to leap into action should the need arise, but trusting his partner implicitly.His insights into the emotions of these characters make it feel as though he really knows his characters. And, indeed he does. The character of Celine is based on his mother, Caroline “Caro” Watkins Heller, who died over two years ago, and Pete is based on her husband, Lowell P. Beveridge, who goes by “Pete”. Many of these seemingly unbelievable situations are based on real stories of their adventures in locating people. The son in Celine, is based on Heller, himself, Celine’s sisters are also based on her real sisters. A lovely way to keep his mother close to him. A loving tribute to her, to a well-lived life. A tribute to families. A very personal story, he knows of what he writes, and it shows. He wants the reader to come away knowing and loving these characters as much as he does the people they were drawn from. I loved this more in idea than in practice, there were some moments I felt he could have pulled back on some unnecessary details and we would still have felt the essence of love with which these characters were crafted. Heller’s “The Dog Stars” is one a favourite of mine, “The Painter” I loved, as well.There’s a lot to love about Celine, a little fairy-tale the father tells his daughter, a scene involving a brokenhearted teenage girl, and Pete’s reflection on his wife afterward. The gorgeous scenery! Childhood memories revisited. Musings on travel, the American pursuit of happiness. A mystery to solve. A daughter who wants to find her father. It all works, and it's all conveyed with Heller’s lovely prose.

  • Linda
    2018-10-29 17:25

    "Like musicians who nod at each other before the final measures, they shared a long look that meant: That's all for now. This too shall be revealed."Neither age, nor hacking emphysema, nor the footsteps of personal loss will shift the dog-earred determination of Celine Watkins. She and her husband/partner, Pete, have long ago set down roots near the Brooklyn Bridge. Celine is a crackerjack P.I. who has a better track record than the FBI in sniffing out the lost and waiting to be found.....be they standing upright or far under the ground.A knock on her apartment door brings attention to a twenty year old missing person case. Gabriela's father, a successful photographer, went missing right on the border of Montana and Wyoming. All evidence points to a bear attack with the bear coming out far ahead. After all these years, Gabriela still believes that her father wasn't done in by this elusive bear. She hires Celine to hit the trail and bring to the surface any clues as to what actually happened.Bundled up in a borrowed camper, Celine and Pete sift through Paul's last whereabouts and interview those people and law officials who may have a nugget or two of information lost from so many years ago. And add into the mix another complication: someone is following their every move. Were there more than bear tracks involved......perhaps a dash of the human kind?Peter Heller, once again, presents a novel deeply entrenched in the formation of complicated and much-below-the-surface characters. We are also up front and center to the crafted presentation of Celine herself. There are tall parallels here in regard to Celine's childhood and early adulthood. We come to realize what drives Celine to reunite families and to champion their causes. She is all too familiar with this bitter cup.Heller is a fine-chiseled talent as evident in The Dog Stars and The Painter to which I ranked higher than Celine. I am of the opinion that Celine suffered a bit from the heavy weight of her backstory that webbed far too wide at times. Perhaps this was a story set-up for a future series that will involve Celine and Pete. Perhaps Heller wanted to unfold these petals so that there is clear sailing into a series. Truth be told, I'd buy my popcorn and front row it for another crack at Celine and her prowess as a crack shot investigator. Heller.....I'm whispering in your ear about now.

  • Donna
    2018-10-14 10:54

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm going to dare call it a comfort read even though it's a literary work of fiction about loss, revolving around a mystery that was written by an author known for grittier work. So if you're looking for something intense like Heller's previous book, The Painter, you might be disappointed. But if you enjoy dry humor, beautifully descriptive writing, and characters you can care about who are fascinating, well-developed, and play off one another like instruments in a finely tuned orchestra, this might fit the bill. But before I go on, I want to mention that this book is also based on real people, including the main character who was closely fashioned after the author's mother, Caroline Watkins Heller. Heller's mother was an amazing woman, known and loved by many, who passed away two years ago. This book is a tribute to her and was a way for the author to spend another year with his beloved mother. Some of the anecdotes in this book that seem unbelievable or for entertainment's sake truly happened, though the case Celine worked on in this story was completely fictional. I'm including two links at the end of my review that contain minor spoilers, but they will give you more information about the inspiration for this book and Heller's mother. After reading the articles, I appreciated this book even more than before. But for now, back to my review. This story takes place a year after 9/11 and begins in New York where Celine Watkins, 68, suffering the effects of emphysema, works as a private detective. Her husband, Pete, hailing from Maine and a man of few words, assists her in cases that involve reuniting families torn apart for various reasons. It is Celine's mission to bring families together or bring her clients closure if it isn't possible to reunite. This mission stems from the nature of Celine's own childhood and from a secret in her past, the repercussions reverberating in her and passed along to her son. It spurs her on to do her best for those who hire her, though she often works pro bono. One day, Celine receives a phone call from Gabriella Ambrosio Lamont concerning the woman's father who disappeared twenty years earlier, the supposed victim of a grizzly bear attack near the border of Wyoming and Montana. Gabriella has never believed in the findings at the scene and has hopes her father might still be alive somewhere. She'd like him to know he's a grandfather, and perhaps find a way to mend old wounds and begin again as the family they might have been. Celine, having suffered several losses recently and weakened from emphysema, is on the brink of hanging it up when she sees in this case the spark she might need to light a fire under her. But there is more to this case than meets the eye and more at stake than reuniting a daughter and her father. And there is more to lose than some sleep over its disturbing details. Celine and her husband, armed with sketchy bits of information, her son's camper, and a store of firearms, set off for Montana soon after, come what may come their way. This is a slower paced story which only serves it well, allowing the reader to really get to know these characters and spend time savoring them and their interactions. Celine is not your average P.I. She comes from a privileged background and can charm the shirt off of or onto any hardened criminal, if she chooses. Whip-smart and intuitive, she has a better success rate in solving cases than the FBI. She wears designer scarves and packs heat. I could go on and on, but I'll leave the rest for you to discover when reading this book. Her husband, steadfast and steadying, and practical to a fault, stands by her side or is on standby, as needed. Their banter made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. They also touched my heart, as did Celine's son, Hank, a character based on the author himself. I can't recommend this book enough. If you'd like to settle back and read an excellent story about family and loss conveyed with wonderful writing about good people whom you wish you knew in real life, come take a look at this book. Favorite lines:She had no patience for a bad liar. A good liar, on the other hand, was someone to learn from.Pursuing fun is exhausting. Having fun is just fun.As promised, two links:Interview with Peter Hellerhttp://www.vaildaily.com/entertainmen...More on Caroline Watkins Heller http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles...

  • Trish
    2018-10-22 10:29

    Peter Heller is completely his own man, his work unlike anyone else’s. Almost everything we love about a Peter Heller novel is here in spades: descriptions so fresh we can smell the creek water, glimpses of people so painterly a photograph would ruin the image, a manly strength and confidence that gives his main character a tiny swagger when confronting mother bears, bad-ass motorcyclists, or CIA operatives with orders where their hearts used to be.Heller places a woman at the helm of the story this time, and his Celine is exceptional. She is too big a character to describe here; Heller allows her depths to unfurl slowly, each mention of her like fine dining--surprising, unusual, uniquely satisfying. She is too daring a character to be created out of whole cloth, so she must be modeled on someone Heller has bulked up for the occasion. One feels slightly jealous such a character exists outside of our experience.Celine is a private investigator. She works with her husband, Peter, who hails from Maine and says “ai-yuh” to indicate agreement. “My Watson,” Celine suggests, “or I may be his Watson, but nobody knows because he doesn’t say much.” Celine doesn’t do infidelity or corporate intrigue, the usual PI work. She looks for missing children, missing parents, or helps those who are desperate or destitute. Her focus makes us wonder what got her into the ‘family’ business exclusively.This felt to me to be the most personal of Heller’s novels. The Penguin Random House website tells usBorn and raised in New York, Heller attended high school in Vermont and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Winner of the Michener fellowship, he received an MFA in both fiction and poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.He is writing what he knows, and we are there, listening to his voice, sense of humor, and perceptions when Celine and Peter sit around a daytime campfire outside the shack of L.B. Chicksaw Chillingsworth, the tracker. It’s maybe not as plausible as Heller makes it seem, but is warming, interesting, and plausible enough.The detail that 68-yr-old Celine has emphysema from a former four-pack-a-day habit added something to this story. It added realism: we often read stories of talented investigators who are strong, clever, and attractive. We don’t often see the limitations under which most folks labor. This handicapping serves the imagination of readers: Celine is closer to readers’ world and all the more admirable for it. A protagonist with a flaw makes for more interesting pursuits. Besides, her skill set with a pistol is enviable and more than makes up for not being able to run away from bad guys.The attention Heller lavishes on guns is not so much indulgent as generous. He is able to impart a bit of his fascination to us, his readers, particularly if we know a bit about the pieces he describes. He is entirely correct in observing that, as precision instruments, they are gorgeous pieces of work, and he shares cleaning, oiling, and polishing techniques as though we were sitting beside him, watching him work. Being able to shoot well seems a communicative skill useful in today's world, able to make points that words simply can’t.My favorite character by far was the rarely-speaking Pete, or Pa, as Celine often called him. Celine and Peter had a fierce bonding going on, so thoughtful are they of one another. Pete’s intensity of care was entirely necessary to someone with Celine’s health history, for she experienced terrible moments of not being able to breathe, and Heller was able to convey to us Pete’s desperation to find help. My least favorite character was Gabriella, a character Heller wasn’t as successful in fleshing out. He almost got there, but I never had a sense of her as an adult woman with a child of her own rather than as a teen who had lost her father.The standout difference between this book and Heller’s earlier works, each of which have been different from one another in terms of genre-type, is that this book is longer. The length did not improve the experience for this reader. The novel could have been pared further, words rearranged for elegance or streamlining, but Heller's work this time doesn't strain. There is something to be said for not taking oneself too seriously. Regardless, I thought this a wonderful mystery/thriller and would gladly enter into conversation with Heller again. His painterly attention to detail, fulsome imagination, and his locales are hard to pass up.I listened to the audio of this book, read by Kimberly Farr and produced by Penguin Random House Audio. Farr managed some of Maine's language peculiarities, though she added a Katherine Hepburn-like upper class drawl to Pete that became endearing only eventually. He was IV-educated after all, so perhaps he could claim the blue blood accent. Celine came through perfectly, as Heller had intended. ---------------Turns out Celine is modeled on Heller's mother. Another GR reviewer, Donna, posted two links to stories about his muse on this novel.

  • Jill
    2018-10-22 15:42

    Peter Heller has a knack for taking a specific literary genre and placing his own unique spin on it. In Dog Stars, a postapocalyptic tale, he literally blew me away with his elegiac spin that elevated this to one of my favorite contemporary books. Again in The Painter, he takes the framework of a contemporary Western and provides a satisfying and nuanced look at an artist and fly fisherman capable of revenge and redemption.This time, he tackles the private eye genre with the most unlikely of PIs: a 67-year-old fashionista from a privileged background named Celine. A heavy smoker, now suffering from emphysema, Celine is haunted by two pivotal past losses, which drive her to help track down long-missing persons. She becomes intrigued when Gabriela, a young woman from her alma mater, asks for her help in finding her father, a world-famous photographer named Paul Lamont. Years ago, the photographer was presumed dead from a grizzly mauling, but the body wasn’t found and the pieces of the story don’t add up.Celine and her husband and PI partner Pete head out to Yellowstone to investigate a trail gone cold but really, the novel is just as much an exploration of Celine’s inner landscape than the mountains in which Paul Lamont’s secret is hidden. As in the past, Peter Heller renders gorgeous word-pictures of the glory of nature and integrates themes of loss and redemption. For the reader, the book is about the journey, not the destination.Those literary readers who enjoy a new twist on the detective genre will particularly enjoy this book. One curiosity: the author persists in describing Celine and her husband as elderly and a step from the grave (various bit players refer to her as “old woman”) – so much so that I had to look back to make sure she wasn’t nearing 80. In addition, Celine is not a character that is prone to introspection, and those who gravitate to such characters may be a tad put-off. Still, Peter Heller remains a writer to reckon with. There are hints that we have not seen the last of Celine and that the author intends to revisit her in a future book.

  • Emily
    2018-10-15 09:44

    I loved The Dog Stars and was lukewarm about The Painter. It was hard for me to really care about the protagonist of the latter, Jim Stegner, a swashbuckling tortured artist who is irresistible to younger women and lands in an unrealistic, drawn-out sequence of events that he could have easily avoided by being less of a dick. But I still loved pieces of Heller's writing. He truly excels at writing about the West and its landscapes. So I was really excited to see that Heller wrote a novel about a woman (!), who is an aristocratic and fashionable detective (!!). Is there a conceit that could appeal to me more??!Celine Watkins was a private eye. It was an odd vocation for someone in the Social Register who had grown up partly in Paris, partly in New York. She may have been the only PI on earth whose father had been a partner at Morgan's in France during the war. The only working PI who had come to New York City when she was seven and attended the Brearley School for girls on the Upper East Side, and then Sarah Lawrence. Where she studied art, and at twenty-one spent a year back in Paris, where she apprenticed with an expressionist and was proposed to by a duke.That paragraph is an excellent character sketch and is, alas, the high point of Celine's character in this novel. Heller creates a larger-than-life character and then brings her into parody. Celine might have worked in a short story, where there wouldn't have been time to get to the caricature:Celine wore large glasses in dark tortoiseshell. They were a bit like Jackie O's sunglasses but bigger, even more of a statement. She didn't mean them to be, she shied from anything show-offy, but she had an innate and inarguable sense of style.I mean, what? This is shoved into a paragraph of dialogue for no discernible reason. To prove how incredible Celine is, Heller keeps reaching backwards into her past to pull out anecdotes like celebrities helping her check her gun at airports, but these get more unbelievable as the book goes on and, unfortunately, are far more interesting than the plot, which is a tortured excuse for a mystery that also veers into pure fantasy. It's fantastical, and not in a good way. I almost gave up for good when, on a tangent from the main plot, Celine stares down an entire biker gang in a bar. The other characters are either equally overdeveloped or underdeveloped. Pete is not only a Maine fisherman, but a Communist who served in Vietnam who's full of hidden skills. Celine's son, Hank, exists only to drive around America, asking questions about his amazing mother. He doesn't exist outside of their relationship. Gabriela is the poor virtuous waif. And, for some reason, Heller switches back and forth between different third-person perspectives, instead of sticking with Celine. While writing a female protagonist is certainly a step in the right direction - a step away from Jim Stegner, which is all that matters - my guess is that Heller went so large with Celine because he truly doesn't know how to write women. I was chugging along quite happily until I got to this description of Paul Lamont's wife, Amana, midway through the book: (view spoiler)[She found herself forgiving Paul Lamont a little. Good God. Whatever the man had done after the death of his wife, she could more than understand ... What would it have been like to make love to such a woman? To receive her kisses? To taste her skin? To make her laugh? To listen to her tell stories to the child you had given her? To take the child from her arms? To share a meal? ... Celine could not conceive it. For Lamont, who was clearly so sensitive to beauty, it may have been like experiencing some kind of afterlife while he was still alive. (hide spoiler)]I'm sorry, what? This is a man who, we are told, (view spoiler)[abandons his preteen daughter in a SEPARATE APARTMENT and doesn't attempt to check on her or feed her for days at a time (hide spoiler)]. And, we are told, (view spoiler)[Celine regrets the loss of her first child so much that she became a PI to search for her (hide spoiler)]. This simply does not work. I started groaning when I read that paragraph and had to take a break after I finished it. This isn't a step in the right direction - this is Jim Stegner trying to writing a book from a woman's perspective and feeling very pleased with himself. I don't know. This felt wrong. And after reading that, then one starts to wonder, (view spoiler)[why is Celine's entire backstory about her daddy issues? Why is the traumatic event that changes the course of Celine's life teen pregnancy? (hide spoiler)] WOMEN, amirite?This book was bad. I do not recommend it. The Dog Stars seems to have been some kind of fluke.

  • Elisa
    2018-11-13 13:49

    I'm clearly in the minorty here, but there is way, way too much character information through endless flashbacks, and not nearly enough present day plot. I'm halfway through, and it's losing me fast

  • Erica
    2018-10-14 11:50

    I stuck through to the end and came away with the aftertaste of bitter disappointment.If you've been hearing the catchphrase "white privilege" but are unsure what that means, this book will define it for you. It's an incredible middle class white people fairy tale.(view spoiler)[This is really three stories crammed into one and they don't go together well.There's the domestic fiction portion, the son-looks-back-on-his-life-with-his-mother portion, and the mystery-solving portion. The common thread throughout is Celine.Celine is 70-sh around the time her story starts on Sept. 12, 2012. She’s lost both her sisters, she watched 9-11 happen, and she struggles with emphysema due to heavy smoking for much of her life. She comes from old money and an international upbringing. Now she’s a sculptor and a PI for lost causes, finding the missing, reuniting families. And she’s uber fashionable but only on accident because she can’t help it. She’s of tiny stature, so small, but with enormous presence. And she's a crackshot with any gun because of course she is.She's the most interesting woman in the world and she's far too good for Dos Equis unless she's slumming it, in which case she'll drink something even less palatable to show that she's hardcore but isn't trying to be, that's just how she is.The domestic fiction portion covers Celine's early life with her mother and sisters during and just after WWII. They fled France to live with family in the States but the beloved father stayed behind to take care of the bank he worked for. Or something like that. But it turned out that he was really leaving his family and that had scarred his daughters forevermore, even though they still saw him from time to time. This part is relayed mostly through Celine remembering her past as she compares it to her new client's similar(ish) past. This part is ok. I could have dealt with a whole book about this. It would have been a saccharine, trite story but it wouldn't have been awful. Probably.The son-remembering portion is conveyed through Celine's son, Hank, who isn't actually a character in the story. Celine talks about him from time to time and she and her husband (not Hank's father) borrow Hank's camper to go to the Yellowstone area and he shows up at the end but he's not actually part of the story so I was never sure why he needed to share his memories of his mother, how she's the most amazing person ever to breathe and how he admires her more than anyone and how he can't reconcile the fact that she won't tell him about the big sister he has out there someplace in the world. This ties into Celine's memories of her past, filling in gaps, but it's unnecessary. This part seemed the most biographical, like a love letter from the author to his own esteemed mother. It was superfluous in this book but would probably make for a nice memoir.The mystery takes place in Celine's current day, 2012 for the reader. It starts a year and a day after the September 11th attacks. The Twin Towers are mentioned once in the story and Celine's unease with the world, at large, shows up in the beginning but I can't otherwise tell why it's important to start this a year and a day after 9-11.We find out Celine is an artist who likes to work with skulls. And she's also a Private Investigator who worked with the FBI once but hated it so now she just takes lost causes, cold cases, mostly involved in reuniting families. And if you think that ties in to 9-11, you would be wrong because the family she's trying to reunite in this story has been broken since long before then.A beautiful young woman named Gabriella wants help finding out what really happened to her National Geographic photographer father twenty years ago when he was supposedly attacked by a bear outside of Yellowstone.The poor girl is an orphan because her mother, the absolute love of her father's life and another incredibly gorgeous woman, died in a swimming/tidesucking accident when Gabriella was really young. And then the father married an evil step-mother, a woman who was not beautiful but was, instead, a dim-witted but clever sexpot with huge breasts and low-cut shirts. This slut of a woman made Gabriella live in the apartment below hers and the little eight-year-old had to set up housekeeping and taking care of herself on her own. Step-mother bought groceries and paid bills and let the child come to dinner once a week, or something, but the kid couldn't live with them because she reminded her father too much of his dead wife. Who was beautiful, in case you'd forgotten.And then said father got eaten by a bear while on assignment and Gabriella inherited everything and kicked her evil stepmother to the curb and never did anything logical after that, like follow the trail of clues her father left her or clean out the silverware drawer (I clean mine every year and that might be weird but surely a person would clean out their silverware drawer at some point in 20 years?)This part is written like every lady detective story from the '90's - it's silly and everything works out perfectly in the end. Nothing really makes sense but it doesn't have to because the focus is on the most amazing person in the world solving her case. I think she has a 94% solve rate? And I see why! Everything just magically happens for her because that's how it is for rich white people! And then politics come into play because this is a Serious Story.These three storylines interweave with one another but each piece is written so differently from the others - the domestic fiction tends towards the literary, the son-remembering is memoirish, and the mystery is clownish fluff. Add to that the abundance of pointless passages - the sudden discovery of nude photos, descriptions of Celine's glasses, a ridiculous moment among cartoonishly wicked Sons of Silence in a bar - plus the portrayal of women as non-people (Celine, Gabriella and her mother are all perfect and amazing while other women are "cute girl"s and "biker babe"s and skinny waitresses who wear short skirts even though they're in their 60s (but it's ok because skinny!)) and this becomes a jarring, tedious, and frustrating read.I really didn't like it.But I seem to be in the minority so read it for yourself and form your own opinion. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kathy
    2018-10-30 13:39

    omg! I loved Dog Stars, I liked The Painter, but I am head over heels in love with Celine! She is the most fascinating character you will ever meet - I truly want Heller to continue her story, her mother's story, her son's story - I want more of everything! This is the most wonderful book - I will recommend, nay PUSH, it onto everyone I meet! Beautifully written - readers will simultaneously want to slow down and savor the language and speed up to see what comes next! Wonderful!

  • Robin
    2018-11-13 12:29

    I've read all of Peter Heller's books and of course I couldn't wait to dive into his newest "Celine." As much as I couldn't wait to see what happened, Heller's writing is like a beautiful composition that unfolds in language as beautiful as the natural world his characters are immersed in. It's storytelling at its finest. I loved Celine - a bad-ass 60+ year old artist who is also a private investigator. Celine's spark and energy for life can at times be stalled by her emphysema but never wavers. I loved everything about this book and am confident this will solidify Peter Heller as a literary powerhouse of a novelist.

  • Laura
    2018-11-11 16:29

    3.5 stars. This is a beautifully written thriller with a lot of back story about the lead detective. Mysteries are probably my favorite genre. This one had a gripping story, which I really enjoyed. There was quite a lot of interruption of the missing person case as we went back to Celine's childhood, young adulthood, etc. Celine is a fascinating character and her backstory is just as interesting, but I found the interruptions a bit distracting. Having said that, though, if you're looking for a literary mystery with really interesting characters (even the missing person and his family are worth knowing), you can't go wrong with this novel. Just be prepared for the pacing changes. I almost found the first half more immersive than the second half, apart from the last 30 or so pages, because the middle had quite a bit of Celine's backstory thrown in. I can also vouch for the audio performance. Not stellar, but well done. 4 stars for the audio.

  • Claire Fuller
    2018-11-03 13:29

    I read half of Celine (I think if you're going to write a review you have to have read a substantial amount of a book), and I can't finish it. It just isn't for me. Heller is trying too hard to be cutesy, and I'm not enjoying the authorial voice commenting on everything. I've just got to a section where Celine (a 65ish PI) comes across a girl crying on a bench. 'Break-up?' Celine says, and then sits beside her and gives her all sorts of folksy wisdom which the girl laps up. I think Heller knows exactly what he's doing - he has set out to write this kind of book and he's achieving it well, it's just not the kind of book I like to read.

  • Kirkstl1gmail.com
    2018-11-08 10:42

    Just a few chapters in and trying to slow down.I could happily spend hours exploring just one paragraph -any paragraph- in this book, all vivid, lush, lyrical, evocative. But this mystery doesn't wait and I speed ahead. I'm torn between the destination and the wonders along the way. And that's just the start.JT

  • Linda
    2018-10-27 15:42

    Interesting mystery with multiple layers. Seems everyone is looking for a father: Celine, Gabriela, and Celine's son. All are lost, some are found. Or are they?At first a little confusing about who is who, but I got it. Too many questions left unanswered for this to be a solitary volume. What about that Peter Heller? Is a follow-up volume coming?

  • Onceinabluemoon
    2018-10-15 14:26

    4.5. Rating books are very subjective, but this book fit my mood perfectly today. I read with no knowledge of its subject or genre, just picked up early on a foggy morn and stepped between the pages. I didn't know it was a mystery, I just got lost in the pages without always trying to solve the book in the first 50 pages. It was refreshing for me not to think, just experience. Having lived and traveled the geographic areas I was serenely reminiscing, for me this book had a quiet strength I really enjoyed, and it feels like a silver series in the making.

  • Truman32
    2018-10-26 17:51

    It seems sometimes that mystery stories that have really great characters get so focused on these great characters they neglect the story (for your consideration: the Archy McNally mysteries written by Lawrence Sanders in the 1990’s and written by Lawrence Sanders’ ghost in the 2000’s). Compelling, delightful, funny characters do not always equal compelling, delightful, funny stories though many times their star power –like that of Hollywood funny man Adam Sandler—can carry a paper-thin plot and turn what could have been a disaster into something serviceable.That is why a novel like Peter Heller’s Celine should be treasured as the rapturous marvel it is-- something rarer than a near-mint Honus Wagner baseball card, an NBA player playing defense or a gas station restroom you wouldn’t mind walking on barefoot. Here is a mystery that has both that dazzling investigative character and a terrific story!Celine, now 68 and struggling with emphysema is called the “Prada P.I”. She’s an East Coast socialite. Extraordinarily capable in so many ways—from gunplay to shadowing suspects. From performing dicey automotive maneuvers to pulling out the most sparkling quote to match the situation, Celine can do it all. And she does it with moxie and brio. Celine is hired to find a missing National Geographic reporter (believed by the authorities to have been a bear’s late afternoon snack) by his daughter and soon this socialite is off into the wooded Pacific Northwest looking for clues along with her husband, Pete. The interplay between Pete and Celine is vibrant and droll. They can be crusty and cantankerous with each other but underneath lies a very loving and solid relationship. This book is a more fun than a night out on the town with Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s funny and touching but also has some nice moments of suspense. The quiet passages can be quite touching. Definitely one of my favorite books of the year! I know Heller is a "serious"author so the chances of this turning into a series is incredibly low, but I would love to catch up with his characters down the road in other stories!

  • Jana
    2018-10-20 10:37

    If this book could talk, it would tell me: "Don't hate me because I'm not The Dog Stars." This book is great! It entertained my husband immensely with the setting in his beloved Rocky Mountain area. Then it entertained me (because hubs stole it and got to read it first ;-) The writing is stellar, as always. It's Peter Heller so that is a given. Celine is a very developed character and it's interesting to get glimpses of her past to add to our appreciation of the older person she is in the story. I love that I know this is based on Peter's mother and I've heard him speak two times now with delightful stories of his wonderful, quirky relationship with her. But my problem lies entirely in that I have never been moved by a book more than The Dog Stars. And I had trouble separating that experience from reading this. It's not fair, I know.But there you have it. Now please, go enjoy Celine. I know you will! And now that I have a youthful puppy I think it's time for a 3rd read of a certain other Heller book...

  • Mary Lins
    2018-11-06 14:36

    Peter Heller, who won my heart with, "The Dog Stars", has penned a new novel, "Celine". The eponymous Celine Watkins is in her late 60s, a 30-year former smoker with emphysema, a vegetable-loather, a Private Investigator and an artist. She was born into money; on the Social Register, grew up in Paris and New York. Now she concentrates her PI practice on "lost causes" and cold cases. Enter Gabriella Lamont, a fellow alumna from Sarah Lawrence. Gabriella comes to Celine with an old mystery that intrigues Celine enough for her, along with her taciturn husband Peter, to take the case, but the case may be putting Celine, Peter, and Gabriella herself in danger. This is where the central mystery and suspense comes in. But Heller also flashes back continually to Celine's own backstory which contains it's own essential mystery. We flash back also to Celine's son, Hank, himself investigating his mother's past. Readers familiar with Heller's prose style will recognize it immediately; the short sections and the flipping around in time and location. I find it fairly easy to adjust to this style but some readers find it jarring, confusing and distracting. Heller also indulges in long poetic descriptions; an effort to paint pictures with words. These help set the mood and tone but do little to advance the plot.Celine and Peter grab some guns and coffee and board an RV as they trek off on an Odyssey to find the missing person, and try to avoid being eaten by a bear. They encounter many crusty and curious characters on the journey; the men they meet spit a lot.This is Heller's first novel primarily told from a female viewpoint and I'm not sure he got it, but that could be my own bias; just because I've never met a woman like Celine, doesn't mean one doesn't exist.

  • Elizabeth☮
    2018-11-13 17:24

    I love Heller's first two books so much that I delved into his non-fiction as well. This book was one that has an interesting premise - a woman hires a PI to investigate her father's death some thirty years prior. Celine is the private investigator. A no nonsense every woman. I like that we get Celine's background and the moments that shaped her life. But, I found that the pacing between past and present some times stalled the pacing some. This is a solid read, so I am glad I got to it.

  • Beverly
    2018-11-02 11:40

    A tough, aristocratic private investigator in her late 60s, can I get an "Amen!"? She takes no guff and backs down bikers. I loved this book and it has a good mystery too.

  • Gary Branson
    2018-11-12 14:26

    I really like Heller's style. A bit like Cormac McCarthy or Joan Didion. He deals with his subject matter deeply while seeming rather dispassionate. He is a great writer, read this book!

  • Sonya
    2018-11-08 12:38

    Peter Heller is so good at writing characters you want to know forever. Celine, the dignified, graceful, and superbly capable private detective at the heart of this novel is no exception. I was less moved by the mystery, but love so much the backstory and emotional messes made by love and death. I want to know more about this family. Please make it happen, Peter.

  • Stacia
    2018-10-21 13:36

    A mystery of sorts but it's not really a traditional mystery & moves along at a different pace & with a different style. I enjoyed the nature/wildlife descriptions, along with the spunky older protagonist. Appealing summer reading.

  • Kate
    2018-10-25 17:36

    This was my first Peter Heller and I own 2 others, so they must be read soon! This was a great story, about a Private Investigator, who with her husband, searches for missing people. Celine is 68, a former smoker and a former drinker who has loved and lost, and has finally (mostly) found peace. Her gift to others is helping them find peace and answers and her patient husband, Hank helps her along the way. This is a mystery and unlike so many mysteries, this book would make a great book club selection. While the solution is satisfactory, the journey sets this story apart, providing much food for thought. I am so looking forward to meeting the author at Booktopia in May!!

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2018-11-04 16:28

    Peter Heller's The Painter was one of the great surprises of a few years ago, and with this, his latest, his writing continues to excite interest. Celine is a PI unlike any other, tramping off into Yellowstone with her gold bangles and her Armani scarves, she is on the trail of a National Geographic photographer she doesn't believe died in a bear mauling, at the request of his daughter. Heller has dedicated this book to his mother whom he enigmatically describes as "Artist, Spiritual Warrior, Private Eye." Is Celine the character a reinvention of his mother? I was reminded of Tom Rob Smith's book The Farm, which he said featured a character reminiscent of his mother with more drama. There is also a family connection to a very well known public figure, and that made me wonder about how much fact has been woven into this fiction. Hopefully there will be future novels featuring Celine and her husband (her "Watson," as she refers to him) Pete.

  • Jess
    2018-10-15 11:43

    So the protagonist is a 68-year-old petite former socialite turned macabre sculptor and private eye specializing in reuniting birth families. She has a touch of emphysema, she’s a crack shot with just about any firearm known to man, she likes designer clothes, and she’s devoted to her taciturn Mainer of a husband (something to which I can relate). In other words, this book had me at hello. And then it smiled and I saw the big wad of spinach between its teeth. I was still charmed, but… distracted and a little disgusted.Celine is one of those books that just can’t decide what it wants to be. It’s not sure if it wants to be a detailed character study or a thriller, and it doesn’t properly balance between the two enough to feel organic or planned in any way. My hunch is that Peter Heller—and let’s get this straight: the man’s a fucking brilliant writer as evident from The Dog Stars and The Painter--was trying to break literary boundaries with this one. Only he didn’t get it quite right.I have NEVER seen a 68-year-old female action hero before. No one has. And it’s fucking brilliant. It’s unexpected. Her powers are unlike those of any other action hero, male or female. I can absolutely see why Heller went “You know what? I’m tired of every contemporary thriller starring some variation of the ex-military white dude who can’t quite get his personal life together. I’mma do the opposite of that.” But he didn’t stick the landing. The title character, despite her petite stature, is a bit larger than life. Half the book is devoted to her backstory and characterization in a way that’s usually reserved for books about enigmatic detectives that are the first in a 25-part series. Every time you turn around the author is revealing something else badass and cool about Celine. But… this isn’t the first in a series. And I’m sorry, but there’s such a thing about too much characterization. Especially when it’s all centered on one character and we get so little of it for everyone else in the book.I’m being entirely unfair, of course. Because the mastery of Heller is that he’s able to characterize a walk-on role so thoroughly within a single paragraph that I found myself falling in love with a guy whose total time in the book is less than six pages. So it’s not that the other characters needed the kind of extensive, encyclopedic characterization Celine got. It’s that the reams of paper dedicated to exploring her back story for apparently no reason created a feeling of imbalance with the other players. I wish I knew even a fraction of what we know about Celine, about Pete, for example.My point is that I felt a bit like someone sitting in the audience of a poorly edited Imax movie: I didn’t know where to look. Was I supposed to be focusing on Gabriela’s case? Or was I supposed to be focusing on the slow reveal of Celine’s dark secret from her teenage years? Is the point of this book a case of a missing father and a CIA plot? Or is it Celine’s quest to make amends? OH AND ONE MORE THING. (view spoiler)[I get that Celine is a certifiable badass. But when you write a Navy SEAL sniper into your book, you don’t get to make anyone somehow more badass than that. Like, that’s your upper floor for badassery. I found it incredibly hard to suspend my disbelief when the sniper somehow misses Celine, only for her to figure out where he is basically without looking and shoot him badly enough to drop him. That moment pulled me totally out of the story. For unless Celine too is a Navy SEAL sniper, and somehow spry enough with her emphysema and over six decades of life, that whole thing just… strained my credulity. (hide spoiler)]While I don’t regret reading it, I do think I was a victim of my own high expectations. The Dog Stars is peerless, and The Painter was pretty damn good as well. But I’m kinda glad I got this one from the library instead of buying it. Does that make me a bad person?

  • Bonnie Brody
    2018-10-20 16:45

    Celine is a gracious, upper class woman who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and has 'WASP' oozing from every pore. She is close to 80, handles a gun like a pro, wheezes from emphysema, and is married to Pete who is mostly silent but steady. They are deeply in love despite their years.Celine is an artist and private eye. As an artist, she makes eerie and weird sculpture-like forms, mostly consisting of bones of dead animals. As a private eye, she likes to help reunite families and doesn't do the usual bread and butter work of her trade. Catching an errant spouse is not up Celine's alley. One day, Celine is contacted by Gabriela, a young woman looking for her missing father who was said to have died years ago in a bear attack. Something about the cause of his death bothers her and as she tells Celine her story, it bothers Celine as well. Celine takes the case and she and Pete go on the hunt for Peter Lamont.The book is beautifully written. Peter Heller has a gift for painting descriptive narrative landscapes that paint pictures of beauty all their own. As I read this novel, Celine's character seemed more and more unreal to me, a Platonic ideal of what might be rather than what was. If you're familiar with the parable of the cave, thing along those lines. If you're not familiar with Plato's parable, consider an 80 year old woman who is still beautiful and gracious, draws her gun like Wild Bill, can run like the wind when she's excited despite having emphysema and needing oxygen. Consider an angel with a devilish side.I loved 'The Painter' for many of the same reasons that I liked 'Celine'. There is beauty in the writing and the pages sang to me. Peter Heller could be a song writer and balladeer. This book attests to that.

  • Jo Ann
    2018-11-12 15:28

    I loved The Painter, and liked Dog Stars very much, and was eager to read Celine. I love Celine the main character, and I love the tale of Celine. I liked her husband, Pete, as well, though Pete is a quieter, introspective, guy, which Celine is both introspective and more of an extrovert. Celine is a private investigator intent on bringing birth families together, often pro bono...and she's GOOD at it. The adventures these 2 experience are great. Read it...I think you'll love this book. And, BTW, I'm pretty jealous of all Booktopians who will get to see Peter Heller again in May. Keep me updated, y'all!