Bella Pollen’s fifth novel is one of tragedy, mystery and moving on. The reader follows the bereaved family of British diplomat Nicky Fleming, whose untimely death occurred while he was posted in Bonn, Germany during the Cold War. 

The author has an interesting writing style as she switches from different points of view and from past to present in a matter of paragraphs. This happens without warning and often leads to confusion about who is talking, what is happening now and what has already happened.

The “Summer of the Bear” is a myth-like story that combines the family’s struggles with the tale of an escaped domesticated grizzly bear who closely observes family interactions. Especially affected is Jamie, the son, who feels this bear may have a connection to his deceased father.

Ms. Pollen seems to have been unable to decide if this novel was going to be a mystery or not. In the end, everything fits together, but the reader is denied the feeling of satisfaction one gets when finishing a mystery novel. The book ends a little
too perfectly, and unconvincingly.

The “Summer of the Bear” is partially based on an actual childhood event in the author’s life; it is an interesting read that shows how the line between the known and the unknown can be blurred, especially when tragedy strikes.

Letty is haunted by the unthinkable: Was Nicky’s death an accident, murder or suicide? It is here that the story begins to come together. The author allows information to filter through each family member.Letty Fleming and her three children, Georgie, Alba and Jamie, retreat to a family cottage in the Outer Hebrides, a group of isolated and windswept islands off the west coast of Scotland.