Monday, November 28, 2022

Interstate by Stephen Dixon

 


A father leaves New York City for home with his two young daughters.  His wife is staying behind for a few days with her parents to visit.  He drives along the interstate, listening to the radio, talking with his daughters and thinking about his life.  Suddenly, a car approaches.  Two men are in the car and they start to make motions towards him.  He drops back, and they do also.  He speeds up and again they match him.  Finally, they tire of teasing him and drive away.

But they aren't through.  After a time, they show up again.  This time, the passenger who has been the most aggressive, pulls out a gun and fires at the man's car.  He is able to get to the shoulder and stop but his youngest daughter has been hit and dies.

This is the premise of Stephen Dixon's Interstate.  He retells this story eight different times, each time changing it a bit or focusing on different aspects such as the time at the hospital trying to save his daughter, calling his wife to tell her of the tragedy, or remembering his life with his daughters and various outings they have had.  

This is not an easy book to read.  Not only is the premise upsetting, but the entire book is written in a stream of consciousness mode, taking the reader inside the man's head on the worst day of his life.  We relive the horrible moments time and time as he is now condemned to do for the rest of his life.  The text is challenging with no breaks but the novel will be one that those who finish it remember for years.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

A Memory Of Light by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson

 

What does one say when finishing a masterpiece?  I started my journey with The Wheel Of Time two years ago and finished it the day after Thanksgiving.  I am thankful to have been given the chance to read this foundational series of epic fantasy.  Robert Jordan was the original author and after his passing, Brandon Sanderson stepped up and finished the series from Jordan's notes.

For those who don't know, the fourteen books in the series follow three boys from a small village who have been identified by the Aes Sedai (women who have magical powers) as pivotal figures in the coming war to either end the world or save it.  There is Rand, who will become the Dragon Reborn, the man the prophesies say will fight the Evil.  Perrin becomes half wolf as he carries out his duties while Mat is ever the jokester and prankster whose luck always saves the day when needed.  Together with a host of characters, they mature and learn what is important in life, to stand up when all seems impossible and to fight with everything you've been given.  

I can't imagine that I will ever read another series that affects me as this one has.  I'm going to make 2023 the year of Stephen Donaldson and read his Thomas Covenant series one more time before I give those books away.  But I'll never forget Rand, Perrin and Mat and their journey on the Wheel of Time.  This book is recommended for all epic fantasy readers.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt

 

Who would have thought that Margaret Parker and Hattie LeCour would ever meet, much less become good friends?  Margaret, known as Garrett to everyone was born in England and married a nobleman.  Hattie was born a slave in America and after that, supported herself in a variety of ways, often as a prostitute.  But after Garrett and her husband migrated to the United States, the two women did meet out West.  After Garrett's husband died, the women decided to use the ranch Garrett and her husband started as a refuge for women fleeing vicious husbands or family situations.  

The women were both excellent horse trainers and the farm was thriving.  They broke horses, did transport and were outearning the male ranches in the area.  That put a lot of noses out of order and the men grouped together to run the ranch out of business, refusing the women loans, putting a blacklist on their horses and anything else to ruin them.  Eventually the ranch had to be sold for pennies on the dollar and the women who lived there were left penniless.

What could they do?  What else except form a gang and start to rob trains, stages and banks?  Garrett always made sure they were targeting locations tied to the family that led the events that took their ranch and livelihood.  The women flew under the radar as men refused to admit that they had been outsmarted and robbed by women.  But eventually the truth came out and the law and the Pinkerton detective agency started to track the women, determined to bring them to justice.

This is a fascinating look at the Old West from another perspective.  The women's characters are all different and fully developed.  The love between the women who formed a different type of family was real and their friendships allowed them to do things no one would have expected.  This is a side of the Old West that hasn't been discussed and Melissa Lenhardt does a great job doing so.  This book is recommended for women readers and anyone interested in the Old West.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Worst Thing I've Done by Ursula Hegi

 


It's always been the three of them.  Annie, Mason and Jake.  They grew up together and when they were adults, Annie and Mason married.  On their wedding day, Annie's father and pregnant mother were killed in a car accident, although the baby was saved.  That made them four as Annie and Mason became parents to Opal, Annie's sister.  

Although Mason is charismatic and fun as well as a great father, he has a dark side.  He must come first always and he has always been jealous of Jake and his relationship with Annie.  Although it's just a friendship, they all know that the marriage could have been Annie and Jake as easily as it was Annie and Mason.  Mason pushes and pushes at this truth until he pushes the two into a catastrophic mistake that has long reaching consequences.

This is a story of friendship and love, of betrayal and jealousy.  It is also a story of loneliness and separation and healing after the worst things one can imagine have happened.   The characters are interesting and Annie's love for her sister/daughter is deep as she tries to heal Opal's fears of abandonment.  This book is recommended for readers of family relationships.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

 

Bobby Western is a deep sea diver who dreads it every time he descends.  He knows there is evil in the world and he accepts that it could come for him anytime.  Bobby loved only one woman in his life and that was his sister.  She walked out into the snow one night about ten years ago and laid down to be found dead the next morning.  Since then Bobby has lived a life that has seemed empty.

Now he has new problems.  The IRS is after him and to try to make their case, they have taken his work, his passport and all his money and belongings.  The only thing left for Bobby is to become someone else.  Someone different than the man whose father worked on the atomic bomb that rained destruction on Hiroshima.  The man whose sister was the smartest person he ever met and whose shadow he can't move beyond.

Cormac McCarthy hasn't released a novel in sixteen years.  This one is bleak yet compelling.  There are passages that show the disorder of his sister's mind, a genius yet schizophrenic.  There are passages about the world of psychics.  Yet above all, there are passages about Bobby Western, trying to make his way through the world without hurting others and brooding on the meaning of life.  It is a bleak book yet perhaps illustrative of the life many people live.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Testimony by Anita Shreve

 

It's a nightmare is everyone's first thought when they saw the video.  It's set in a dorm room at a private academy.  Three young men are there and one girl barely into her teens.  They proceed to have a sexual encounter that is videotaped and the tape is later released, both internally at the school and on the Internet.  The story hits the airwaves and is a national incident.  Is this what our young people are up to?  Did the girl consent or could she given her age?  What about the young men?  Are they all athletes?  How many other girls' lives have they ruined?

Anita Shreve tells the story of the incident from all sides.  There are the story of the girl, a newcomer to the school who leaves afterwards.  There are the stories of the young men, each of whom had a different reason for being there.  There are the stories of the parents of all of them.  There is the story of the headmaster of the academy and a recounting of the spotlight his actions are put under and the stories of the teachers.  There are the stories of the press.  But does anyone get it right?

Anita Shreve is an issue writer.  Fans of writers such as Diane Chambers and Celeste Ng will enjoy Shreve's work as well.  The ripples of one night cause waves in so many ways, disgrace, failed marriages, job loss, life plans ruined.  Some of the outcomes are predictable while others are not.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

 


One rule that everyone knows:  Hollerans don't go near Baines.  That goes back to the disaster that happened in the 1930's.  Back then seven Baines sons lived on the farm with their mother.  That is until the eldest son, Joseph Carl, was accused and convicted of raping Juna Crowley and kidnapping her brother who died after that event.  He was the last public hanging in Kentucky and the other Baines sons drifted away leaving only the mother to grow old on the Baines farm.

Now Annie Holleran, daughter of Juna although she's not supposed to know it, has discovered the body of Mrs. Baines in her garden patch.  What was she doing outside at midnight?  Did old age take her or something more sinister.  Along with the death, Annie and everyone else believes that Juna, who left right after Annie's birth, is coming back now.  Will she?  The sons are back for the funeral and there's plenty of chances for the whole enmity to break out again.  In order to save her family, Annie must go back and reveal all the secrets both sides have been hiding all these years but there is danger in revealing secrets.

Lori Roy is a Midwestern author who now lives in the South and gets the feeling of its people exactly right.  This book is set in a rural area with families who have lived there for generations and lots of secrets which have built up in order for those families to live in close proximity with their neighbors.  The tension in the book builds slowly but steadily and the secrets are revealed one by one.  This book won an Edgar Award for Best Book and it is definitely deserving.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

 

Friday, November 18, 2022

I Am The Light Of This World by Michael Parker

 

Earl has lived two lives.  Before he was a teenager with his first love, Tina.  Known as a loner and a dreamer, his family is poor and he is astonished that Tina is interested in him.  He is willing to do anything she asks so that she will stay.

After Earl is an older man.  His dreams are to learn to swim like an Olympian does, to have a small apartment where he can watch the river and listen to music and have some true friends.  

Between there is the crime.  Earl takes Tina to Austin to visit her mother.  Two days later, Tina is dead and Earl is charged with her murder.  It turns out that Tina lied to him about everything, starting with her name, her mother's location and everything in between.  Earl knows he didn't kill her but he spent his two days in Austin in a drug filled haze and can't account for much of his time.  Coming from a poor family and the victim having been from a wealthy one, he is sentenced for a crime he didn't commit.

Michael Parker is one of my favorite authors.  He writes of those who are often forgotten and ignored by society and his character creation is superb.  The small details he includes brings a character to life and he is non-judgmental about their flaws.  Readers will find themselves sympathetic to Earl and interested in his life.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The English Major by Jim Harrison

 

As Cliff hits sixty, his whole life changes.  He has been a cherry farmer for decades, living on his wife's family farm and keeping things going.  Now Vivian has left him for an old high school flame and the farm has been sold.  After all the years of work, Cliff only gets ten percent of the price so he's broke as well.  Outside of farming, he taught high school English for a while but never really liked that.  What is he going to do with himself now?

He decides to take a road trip across the country to see all the places he has never seen.  As he goes, he thinks about his future and then there's the woman question.  He still has feeling for Vivian and can't believe his marriage is over.  There's Babe, the waitress he has been spending time with lately.  Then a former student, Marybelle, who he has kept in contact with over the years, asks if he can give her a ride out West to a friend's house.  He agrees and falls into the sexual fantasy of his life.  There isn't anything Marybelle won't do and so often that he can barely walk. 

Cliff's goal is to make it to San Francisco where his son lives.  Along the way, he visits old friends who have moved away, calls old friends back home, fishes when he can and muses on what he'll do next.  He thinks about renaming the states and all the native birds of America and figures that will take quite a while but after that he's stumped.

Jim Harrison writes books about people most of us can imagine knowing.  He delves into their thoughts and dreams and makes their lives understandable.  He wrote over thirty books, and was known for his poetry as well as his novels.  His books celebrate the land and the life lived by those who choose to live away from the cities.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

 


Chloe is not like other freshman students.  Sure, she takes classes and even takes them seriously as she intends to be a doctor.  She hangs out with her friends in the dorm, doing silly girl things.  She flirts with the cute guys around her, even hooking up with some.  But Chloe's main purpose is different.  She is there to kill another student.  

Chloe is a diagnosed psychopath and is in a secret program at the university.  There are seven students this year in the program where a doctor is studying them and giving them intensive therapy to see if their behavior can be modified while teaching them how to be successful in normal society.  Chloe was raped when she was younger and her attacker attends the university.  She plans to kill him and nothing is going to stop her.

But soon something might.  A student in her program in found killed in one of the testing cubicles.  Then another in the MRI room a week or so later.  Is someone targeting the psychopath students?  Is Chloe in danger?  She discovers several of the other students although they are all supposed to be anonymous and they meet to decide if they should do their own investigation.  Trouble is, who can trust a psychopath?

This was an interesting mystery that was a quick read.  The author is a psychologist and this is her debut novel.  It was an Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel.  Chloe is fascinating to read about and the interplay between her and the other students identified as psychopaths is an eye opener.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

 

The year is 1612 and King James I of England is obsessed with two things: stamping out Catholicism and witchcraft.  He sees the two things as related and Lancashire as the center of both.  He sends his witch hunters there to stamp out what he sees as a place mired in witchery.  

A group of thirteen is found on Pendle Hill one night, poor women and men who want to believe there is a way to break out of poverty.  Most of them live on the estate of the local wealthy Alice Nutter.  No one understands why she would shelter and stand up for such people and suspicions start to arise about her as well.  When she is tied to an escaped Catholic priest and when locals see the chance to take her land and wealth, the die is set and the witch hunters come for her as well.

Jeanette Winterson is known for writing books that highlight women's issues.  Her books have been well regarded and nominated for book Booker and Women's Fiction prizes.  This book shows the prejudice against women that fueled the witch hunts in countries in the 1600's as any woman who acted out of the ordinary or insisted on speaking her mind could be a target of the frightened populace and the men who ruled with an iron fist.  This book is based on a true case in Lancashire and is graphic about the tortures inflicted on those who opposed the Crown.  This book is recommended for historical fiction and those interested in women's issues.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

O Beautiful by Jung Yun

 

Elinor grew up in North Dakota, the child of a military man and his Korean wife brought back from an overseas assignment.  She was tall and gangly and mocked and bullied by her classmates as a half breed and other racial epitaphs.  But her height was her ticket out as she was discovered as a model right out of high school.  She took off as soon as she could and never looked back.  Now, her modeling days behind her, she is trying to make it as a freelance journalist.  

Her mentor and former lover has put a big assignment in her way.  He is having surgery and will be out of things for a while so suggests her as a substitute to a large magazine that is doing a feature on the oil boom in North Dakota.  It's the first time Elinor has been back and she barely recognizes the place where she grew up.

Now it is flooded by a massive influx of men and money.  Women are outnumbered and catcalled everywhere.  Elinor feels less safe here than in all her years of city living in New York.  The men are bold, violent and often drunk.  There is an air of sexual violence in the air and women have been disappearing.  But her editor insists that the story is that of the oil money itself and the way it has changed the local population.

As Elinor works on her article, she starts to question everything she knows.  Her sister has stayed in the area and their relationship is strained.  She is also trying to reinvent herself as she enters middle age.  Elinor questions why her mentor gave her this amazing opportunity.  Was it because he valued her work or some more sinister reason?  Does she even want to be a journalist or should she try something else?

This is Jung Yun's second novel and it is a New York Times Editor's Choice Book.  She explores how our relationships and even our memories change over time and the difficulty of looking backward and reconnecting with anything or anyone from our past.  She also writes about how people of color are treated in the United States where they are automatically considered by the majority as lessor than.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

 


This was not the life Hans van den Broek expected to be living.  He followed his wife, Rachel, from London to New York when she was transferred.  His job, analyzing the oil industry and its stocks is in high demand and he finds a job easily.  They live in an apartment with their young son, Jake, and Hans thinks everything is fine.  But its not.  Rachel is increasingly worried about living in New York after the 9/11 tragedy and is upset that Hans doesn't share her fears.  Eventually she moves back to London, taking their son and Hans agrees to fly there every other weekend as they decide what the separation means.

Hans is left at loose ends.  He moves to the Chelsea Hotel, one of a number of long-term residents and makes friends with the staff there.  He rediscovers his love of cricket and finds a league that plays in the city, mostly immigrants from places such as Trinidad and the other islands.  His entry to the league is Chuck Ramkissoon, an entrepreneur who always has a finger in lots of pies and who seems to know everyone.  He introduces Hans to his friends, his wife and his mistress and takes Hans on mysterious errands.  

This book was a Booker nominee in 2008.  Hans is introduced to the immigrant experience in America, not that of the wealthy such as he and Rachel's lives are, but that of those who come poor hoping to make money in the land of opportunity.  Once he is stranded there without his family, he comes to understand their lives better and their feelings of separateness and loneliness.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees

 

When the Orcs came to Will's village and massacred everyone they found, he managed to get home quickly enough to warn his parents and they ran for the forest.  While there, he was astonished to discover that his father was a warrior with magic and his mother an elf who also had magical skills.  Neither of them had taught Will any magic or how to fight but realizing that they would die that night, they tasked Will with fulfilling a quest.  That was to find and awaken The Sleeping King.

Raina was the second daughter of an old family.  When she discovered that her life was predetermined to be entangled with that of the Sleeping King, she rebelled.  She refused to have her life spelled out by others and ran away from home, accompanied by a mercenary elf.  

Will and Raina meet up and realize they are sharing the same mission.  They are joined by others, a gypsy healer, a Jann who has escaped slavery and others who want to fight the current situation.  The Kothrites had achieved power and since they were more or less immortal, their reins on the world grew tighter and tighter.  Only the Sleeping King can break their hold if the mission of the group is successful and if he really even exists.

This is the first novel in the Sleeping King trilogy.  It is based on a real fantasy video game, Dragon Crest and has the approval of the Dragon Crest founder, Bill Flippen.   The world building is interesting and there is a clear demarcation between good and evil in the world Dees has created.   Some beings are misunderstood and wrongly assigned to one side or the other, an error that is remedied as the book progresses.  There is romance, magic, and a quest to save the world.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers. 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

 

Theodore Tate has gone about as far down in life as he can.  Two years ago, he was a respected police detective with a lovely family.  That was before the phone call that told him an accident had occurred.  His wife and daughter were hit by a car and his little girl was killed.  His wife was left in a limbo, alive but not responding to anything or anyone around her.  Tate lost his family and then his job when he went outside the law to deal with the man whose drunk driving took them away.

Now Tate makes a living, more or less, as a private investigator.  That is not much of a living as he spends every evening getting drunk to block the pain.  But he does get work.  Today is an example.  An exhumation needs to take place as suspicions have arisen about the death of a man who died two years ago.  But when the coffin is raised, the man is not there.  Instead a woman's body is in his place.

As Tate and the police investigate, more bodies are discovered in other graves wrongfully.  Soon four women have been discovered with no clue to whom has been killing women and using the cemetery to hide their bodies.  Tate feels responsible as the first occurred right after the accident that took his family and he had not done his best work back then.  He is determined to find the killer and put things right.  Can he do it?

This is the first book in the Theodore Tate series and this is my first read of a Paul Cleave novel.  He is a New Zealand author and his books are in the mystery thriller genre.  He has been called a New Zealand James Ellroy and his writing has that noir feel where behind the everyday events of life a deeper, darker reality exists.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

 

The Hildebrandt family is a typical one of the 1970's.  They live in a suburb outside of Chicago where Russ, the father, is an associate pastor.  Marion is his wife who has been a stay at home mom to the family, supporting her husband in his job and their children in their childhood.  Clem is the oldest child.  He is in his freshman year at college where he has discovered both sex and philosophical discussions about what is moral and where should a person make a stand.  Becky is the queen bee of her high school, pretty and popular.  Perry is a year behind Becky in school, an acknowledged genius.  The youngest son is ten and a typical kid.  They seem like a perfect family.

But poke behind the scenes a bit and everything looks different.  Russ and Marion are estranged and thinking about a divorce.  Russ feels slighted at the church where a teenage ministry he started, Crossroads, has been taken over by a younger, more hip minister.  He also feels slighted because he has only slept with one woman in his life, Marion, and is making plans to change that fact.  Clem is disillusioned with college and his student deferment which has kept him from Viet Nam and abruptly gives up his scholarship and leaves college.  Becky is tired of being the virtuous pastor's daughter and is exploring the counterculture while Perry is selling drugs to other school kids, even those as young as the seventh grade while developing a drug habit of his own.  All of these issues explode over a year of family life and everything will be different at the end.

I've read pretty much everything Jonathan Franzen has written and this novel is probably my favorite.  It is more approachable than some of his earlier work and the characters are more relatable.  The sarcasm that can sometimes overtake Franzen in his work is absent here and the reader is drawn in and retains interest until the end.  Those who grew up in the 1970's will be especially interested in this novel which echoes that time faithfully.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Elmet by Fiona Mozeley

 


A small family builds a house in the forest outside the village of Elmet.   John is the father, a giant of a man who makes what money they need in fights and doing favors for others.  The children are Cathy, 15, and her brother Daniel, 13.  The land they possess used to belong to their mother who disappeared from their lives and who sold the land to the man who owns most of everything in Elmet, Mr. Price.  

The family lives happily off the grid, hunting and growing their food, building their own furniture and tending to the forest and land.  The children go to the house of one of John's friends, Vivian, who teaches them what she can.  Daniel loves the lessons but Cathy is a child of outside and usually leaves early to go listen to the animals and roam the land.  

But paradise is always ruined.  John and a former union organizer create a plan to help the villagers against Mr. Price and his cronies.  These men hire the villagers at day labor for a pittance but the rents on their cottages rise year after year.  Organized, the men are able to negotiate better pay and lower rents but it comes at a price.  John must agree to one last fight for the landowners.

After that fight, a crime occurs and the life the family has been living is ruined forever.  They stick together and fight to remain as a family but everything around is against them.  The village will never be the same nor will they.

This debut novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017.  Mozeley creates a world that seems perfect yet dreamlike and unable to exist in the world as it is.  John, the father, is a man comfortable with himself and his body and attempts to do what is right.  Cathy is most like John and is determined to also live life on her own terms.  Daniel isn't sure what his life will be but knows he needs these two individuals by him to be happy.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction. 

The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver

 

Somewhere there's a killer.  The first victim is a young woman, a student at a performing arts college.  The police arrive on the scene while the killer is there but somehow he escapes from a locked room.  That's odd enough that the case is turned over to New York's best consultant, Lincoln Rhyme and his team of police and forensic experts.  The most devoted adherent to Rhyme's methods is Amelia Sachs, a policewoman and his love.  Of course, Rhyme has been paralyzed for several years since he was hurt on the job, no movement below the neck except for one finger.

The killings continue and a pattern emerges.  This is the work of someone trained as a magician and he is using his knowledge to commit murders based on famous magic acts.  What is his motive?  Who is he?  Rhyme drafts a young woman training as a magician as a consultant but the murderer seems to be one step ahead at all times.  Can the team find him before he kills again?

This book is number five in the Lincoln Rhyme series.  Readers will be intrigued as the clues mount up and as the intricate forensic work gives up clues that bring the police ever closer to the killer.  The relationship between Rhyme and Sachs is always of interest.  Readers will learn about forensic methods and about life as a disabled person.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, October 31, 2022

The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu

 

In this book, Tim Wu does a survey of advertising down through the ages.  Starting with the traveling medicine shows, then print, followed by radio and tv, then finally the Internet, marketing executives have done anything they could to garner the consumers' attention and make sales.  It details the discoveries those in the advertising industry made that allowed them to get the maximum amount of attention.  It also details the propaganda industry and how key it was in World War II and how it will be used in the future.

Tim Wu has been focused on this issue for most of his career.  He is known for coining the phrase 'net neutrality' and working on this issue.  He has a law degree and clerked for the Supreme Court but has devoted his life instead to working on issues having to do with information and how it is disseminated.  I felt that this book had the chance to do much more with this issue than was done.  I already knew most of the information that was contained here and had hoped for more substantive coverage of the Internet and social media and how their rise is influencing us all, especially the younger part of our society.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers and those just starting to learn about the information society and its repercussions.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Cage Of Bones by Tania Carver

 


The old rundown house is slated for demolition.  But when the contractor comes to assess the job, he immediately calls the police.  When they arrive, they find something in the basement that even they can't believe they are seeing.  In that silent, wrecked place they find symbols carved on the walls and a cage made entirely of bones.  Worse, in that cage is a small boy, almost feral.  He is malnourished and can't speak looking at them with pleading eyes.

The boy is removed and sent to the hospital and the case is given to DI Phil Brennan.  On his team is his life partner, psychologist Marina Esposito.  With Brennan's team, they try to discover who would have done this to this child and in the process they uncover a serial killer who may have been killing for decades undetected.  Worse, the case affects Phil in ways he can't understand but as the case goes on it becomes clear that it has roots in his own background, the background he never knew as an adopted child.  Can they find the killer before he strikes again?

This was my first read by this author and it was a good one.  The sense of horror is eminent and the reader can only bear to transport themselves into the environment for short periods.  The relationship between Phil and Marina is interesting and supportive and the secrets uncovered in Phil's background have echoes down through the years.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Gondar by Nicholas Luard

 

This book is about war and struggles in the African area known as the Mountains Of The Moon, also as the Abyssinian government.  It follows four people through a decade or so of their lives.

Toomi and Mankinga are twins and the children of the ruler of Malinda, an area next to that of Gondar.  While out exploring one day they are captured and taken by slavers.  They spend the remainder of their childhood and teenage years separated, each as slaves to various people.  Rachel is the princess of Gondar, in a direct line from the Queen Of Sheba.  Her family is overthrown by the head of a religion in the country and she barely escapes with her life.  She is determined to go back and recapture her heritage and destiny.  Jamie is a Scotsman.  When his family is killed in an undeclared war with the landowners there, he is the sole survivor.  He makes a promise that he will honor his family and later becomes committed to finding the source of the Nile River and ends up in Africa as well.

As these four individuals form a partnership to take back Gondar, other characters are also in their joint effort.  There is a tribe of pygmies who are ready to do whatever it takes to help.  Jamie has brought along with him a Scottish laird and a Socialist friend of Karl Marxx and both are committed.  A Muslim bandit with military experience is their general and as the team moves into the land of Gondar, the population stands up and declares their loyalty to Rachel and to Mankinga and Toomi.  The army is outnumbered and it is unlikely they can win but perhaps?

This epic novel is an older one, released in 1988 but a book well worth reading if it is available.  Readers will learn much about Africa, about the ancient cultures there, about slavery and its horrors, about fighting for a goal.  There is hardship, romance, friendships that can stand anything and the desolation of war.  This book is recommended for historical fiction readers.

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Inquisitor's Wife by Jeanne Kalogridis

 

The year is 1481 and the location is Seville, Spain.  Marisol lives with her parents.  Her father is what is called an Old Christian; his family having converted from Judiasm decades ago and lived as Christians since.  Her mother is known as a converso, a Jewish person who has recently converted and is suspected of not truly having adopted the Christian faith.

The family has been safe but times are changing.  Queen Isabella married a converso herself, King Ferdinand and had the two had protected the Jews of Spain.  But now the Inquisition has come to Seville and it appears that Queen Isabella needs gold more than she needs to protect the Jews in her lands.  All Jewish families are given three days to vacate Seville.  This is a harsh punishment but perhaps easier than those left behind to face the torturers of the Inquisition.

Marisol's mother walks into the river and drowns herself to protect her family.  Her father a week later, marries Marisol off to Gabriel, a neighbor who works for the Inquisition and whose brother is a highly placed official there.  He disowns Marisol, all a ruse to try to save her as he knows he is a likely target.  Marisol has no love for Gabriel and is soon reunited with her childhood love, Antonio.  Can the two of them escape from the horror that has overtaken Seville?

Jeanne Kalogridis has made a name for herself in the historical fiction genre.  This book details the quick escalation of the Inquisition and how it was based as much on greed as any religious doctrine.  The research the author did is extensive and sensitive readers may want to skim over the passages detailing the tortures prisoners were dealt.  The reader will learn much about religious persecution and one of the worst periods in Spanish history.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Booksie's Shelves, October 23, 2022

 





It was August and hot when I last updated Booksie's Shelves.  Now it is late October and finally the gorgeous days of autumn are here.  Carolina blue skies and temperatures in the seventies.  Goodreads tells me I've read 189 books so far this year so I'm hoping to make that over two hundred by the end of the year.  I've been reading the Booker nominees and I'm not sure if Trust or Glory were my favorite so far but I just started Colony and it is wonderful as well. I'm also reading and streeting from my own extensive library and have a binful to give away at my gym. Of these older books, my favorite has been Last Night At Twisted River by John Irving but when did he ever write a book I didn't love?   Here's what's come through the door lately:

  1. The Color Storm, Damian Dibben, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  2. Gone Like Yesterday, Janelle Williams, multicultural fiction, sent by publisher
  3. The Blinds, Adam Sternbergh, mystery, purchased
  4. Chatterton, Peter Ackroyd, literary fiction, purchased
  5. Volunteers, Jerad Alexander, memoir, sent by publisher
  6. My Last Innocent Year, Daisy Alpert Florin, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  7. Carry The Dog, Stephanie Gangi, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  8. The Terraformers, Annalee Newitz, science fiction, sent by publisher
  9. A Beautiful Crime, Christopher Bollen, mystery, purchased
  10. Night Of Demons And Saints, Menna van Praag, fantasy, sent by publisher
  11. Gorsky, Vesna Goldsworthy, literary fiction, purchased
  12. The Green Road, Anne Enright, literary fiction, purchased
  13. Whispers Through A Megaphone, Rachel Elliott, literary fiction, purchased
  14. The Book Of Memory, Petina Gappah, literary fiction, purchased
  15. Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet, literary fiction, purchased
  16. Old Baggage, Lissa Evans, literary fiction, purchased
  17. The Dog, Joseph O'Neill, literary fiction, purchased
  18. I Meant To Tell You, Fran Hawthorne, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  19. Glacier's Edge, R.A. Salvatore, fantasy, sent by publisher
Here are the e-books I've bought lately:
  1. Aspects, John Ford, fantasy
  2. The Glass Room, Ann Cleaves, mystery
  3. Us Against You, Fredrik Backman, literary fiction
  4. A Guide For Murdered Children, Sarah Sparrow, mystery
  5. The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent, historical fiction
  6. 14, J.T. Ellison, mystery
  7. Beware, Beware, Steph Cha, mystery
  8. Kill For Me. M. William Phelps, true crime
  9. Inmate 1557, Alan Jacobson, mystery
  10. No Way Out, Alan Jacobson, mystery
  11. She Who Become The Sun, Shelley Parker-Chan, fantasy
  12. Where The Dead Sit Talking, Brandon Hobson, mystery
  13. To Love And To Kill, M. William Phelps, true crime
  14. A Winter Haunting, Dan Simmons, horror
  15. Slow Bear, Anthony Neil Smith, noir mystery
  16. The Fountain Overflows, Rebecca West, historical fiction
  17. This Real Night, Rebecca West, historical ficion
  18. Cousin Rosamund, Rebecca West, historical fiction
  19. Pacific, Tom Drury, literary fiction
  20. The Calling Of The Grave, Simon Beckett, mystery
  21. Little Girls, Sleeping, Jennifer Chase, mystery
  22. The Girl From Silent Lake, Leslie Wolfe, mystery
  23. The Liar's Girl, Catherine Ryan Howard, mystery
  24. The Spider, Lou Carew, fantasy
  25. The Wolf, Lou Carew, fantasy
  26. Tokyo Vice, Jake Adelstein, memoir
  27. Rubicon, Tom Holland, historical fiction
  28. Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand, mystery
  29. Peeler, Kevin McCarthy, mystery
  30. The Lie, Helen Dunmore, literary fiction
  31. The Crimson Shadow series, R.A. Salvatore, fantasy
  32. Watch Her Disappear, Lisa Regan, mystery
  33. Forcing Amaryllis, Louise Ure, mystery
  34. Ted Bundy's Murderous Mysteries, Kevin Sullivan, true crime
  35. The Burn Farm, Michael Benson, true crime
  36. First Degree Rage, Paula May, true crime
  37. True Colors, Kristin Hannah, literary fiction
  38. Buried Angels, Patricia Gibney, mystery
  39. The River Wife, Jonis Agee, literary fiction
  40. The Memory Of Love, Aminatta Forna, literary fiction
  41. Dance With The Devil, David Bagby, true crime
  42. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel, literary fiction
  43. America's First Female Serial Killer, Mary Kay McBrayer, true crime
  44. Witchmark, C.L. Polk, fantasy
  45. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie, literary fiction
  46. The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois, Honoree Jeffers, multicultural fiction
  47. City Dark, Roger Canaff, mystery
  48. Porky, Deborah Moggach, literary fiction
  49. Comfort Me With Apples, Peter De Vries, literary fiction
  50. Shadows Of Self, Brandon Sanderson, fantasy
  51. A Separation, Katie Kitamura, literary fiction
  52. The Sandman, Neil Gaiman, fantasy
  53. Stone Of Tears, Terry Goodkind, fantasy
  54. Blood Of The Fold, Terry Goodkind, fantasy
  55. In My Dreams I Hold A Knife, Ashley Winstead, mystery
  56. Witches Abroad, Terry Prachett, fantasy
  57. Tropical Freeze, James Hall, mystery
  58. Written In Bone, Simon Beckett, mystery
  59. The Chemistry Of Death, Simon Beckett, mystery
  60. Northanger Abbey, Val McDermid, mystery
  61. The Face Of Clara Morgan, J.A. Baker, mystery
  62. The Cleansing, J.A. Baker, mystery
  63. Killing The Lawyers, Reginald Hill, mystery
  64. The Jury Master, Robert Dugoni, legal thriller
  65. Authority, Jeff VanderMeer, science fiction
  66. Live To Tell, Lisa Gardner, mystery
  67. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami, literary fiction
  68. The Angels Of Resistance, David Mammina, fantasy
  69. Little, Big, John Crowley, literary fiction
  70. Beasts Of A Little Land, Juhea Kim, literary fiction
  71. A Great Reckoning, Louise Penney, mystery
  72. The Last House On The Street, Diane Chamberlain, women's fiction
  73. Early Graves, Thomas H. Cook, mystery
  74. Sacrificial Ground, Thomas H. Cook, mystery
  75. The Dark Ability, D.K. Holmberg, fantasy
  76. Innocent Victims, Scott Whisnant, true crime
  77. The Quaker, Liam McIlvanney, mystery
  78. Lucky Turtle, Bill Roorbach, literary fiction
  79. The Wisdom Of Crowds, Joe Abercrombie, fantasy
  80. The Trouble With Peace, Joe Abercrombie, fantasy
  81. We That Are Left, Clare Clark, literary fiction
  82. Companion Piece, Ali Smith, literary fiction
  83. Death In Holy Orders, P.D. James, mystery
  84. Death Masks, Jim Butcher, fantasy
  85. Bogeyman, Steve Johnson, true crime
  86. The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue, fantasy
  87. A Suitable Vengence, Elizabeth George, mystery
  88. The Lies Of Lock Lamora, Scott Lynch, fantasy
  89. The Harbor, Katrine Engberg, mystery
  90. The Position, Meg Woltizer, literary fiction
  91. Sunset Express, Robert Crais, mystery
  92. An Echo Of Things To Come, James Islington, fantasy
  93. Severance, Ling Ma, literary fiction
  94. The Break, Katie Sise, mystery
  95. The Doctor's Wife, Brain Moore, literary fiction
  96. Inside The Mind Of BTK, John Douglas and Johnny Dodd, true crime
  97. Lyre Of Orpheus, Robertson Davies, literary fiction
  98. The Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies, literary fiction
  99. What's Bred In The Bone, Robertson Davies, literary fiction
  100. Death's End, Cixin Liu, science fiction
  101. Freak, Jennifer Hillier, mystery
  102. The Listeners, Jordan Tannehill, literary fiction
  103. Under The Midnight Sun, Keigo Higashino, mystery
  104. Dope, Sarah Gran, mystery
  105. Chronicles Of The Black Company, Glen Cook, fantasy
  106. Elric Of Melniborne, Michael Moorcock, fantasy
  107. Rooms, Lauren Oliver, literary fiction
  108. The Enigma Of Ted Bundy, Kevin Sullivan, true crime
  109. The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin, literary fiction
Here's what I'm reading:
  1. The Colony, Audrey Magee, literary fiction, Kindle
  2. Cage Of Bones, Tania Carver, mystery, Kindle
  3. Elmet, Fiona Mozley, literary fiction, Kindle
  4. The Inquisitor's Wife, Jeanne Kalogridis, historical fiction, paperback
  5. The Attention Merchants, Tim Wu, nonfiction, hardback
  6. Fast Friends, Jill Mansell, women's fiction, paperback
  7. Her Final Breath, Robert Dugoni, mystery
  8. The Vanished Man, Jeffery Deaver, mystery
  9. Gondar, Nicholas Luard, historical fiction
Happy Reading!



Saturday, October 22, 2022

This Is How It Always Is by Lauren Frankel


 

Rosie and Penn have created a lovely family.  Rosie is a doctor and Penn is a novelist although he is unpublished.  They have five boys.  Roo is the oldest, then Ben, then a pair of twin boys and then Claude.  They live in Michigan and life is good.  

When Claude is five, they ask him one day what he wants to be when he grows up.  Claude says he wants to be a girl.  Soon he is wearing dresses almost exclusively at home.  If he had his way, he would wear them to school as well but he has been discouraged from doing so.  His daily routine is to get up, put on girl clothes through breakfast, change into pants and tee shirt for school, then change back into a dress as soon as he gets home.  But he changes from a happy child to a sad one and Rosie and Penn make the big decision to move the family from Michigan to Seattle where they think the atmosphere would be more supportive to Claude, or Poppy as she wants to be known as.

The family moves.  Now Roo is the one who changes as he goes from Mr. Popular back home to someone trying to make his way with all new friends and routines as he finishes high school.  But Poppy is ecstatic. The whole family keeps her secret and no one here has ever known her as anyone but Poppy.  She has three best girlfriends and her life is wonderful.  Until one day the secret leaks out and the family's life explodes.

This is a wonderful book.  Rosie and Penn are some of the best parents I've ever seen portrayed and the love and support they give their children is amazing.  Most readers will feel that they might have come up short in the parenting department when they read about this family.  It explores secrets and how deadly they prove to be and the relationships and connections families have as they try to grow up and connect with the outside world.  It also explores the hot topic of transgender children and the high suicide rate this group is burdened with.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.    

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Death Of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

 

When spinster Jane Lawrence's guardians decide to move abroad, she is left with a choice to make.  Should she accompany them?  She decides instead that she will get married.  Not a conventical marriage but one where she and the man she marries will respect each other but live as separate entities.  She meets and approves of a local doctor, Augustine Lawrence.  Her demand is to be able to work and keep the books of his practice; his only demand is that she will never go to his ancestral home.  They marry and the first days pass easily.

But an unforeseen event leads Jane to Augustine's home and she starts to learn that he isn't exactly the man she thought she had married.  He is keeping secrets and she slowly starts to learn them.  She also realizes that she is actually in love with him and he with her.  But can she live with a man who has hidden a first marriage from her as well as the fact that his wife died during an operation he performed?

Jane meets with a group of Augustine's college friends and they introduce her to beliefs in magic and the practice of it.  When Augustine disappears, Jane tries to locate and save him with the black magic Augustine was adamantly against.  Will she be successful?

This novel was an NPR Best Book of 2021.  It reads like a Victorian novel but seems to be set some time later.  Jane is an independent women who is determined to make her own way and have a marriage that works for both of them.  She changes when magic enters her life to become more dependent on others and becomes full of misgivings and fear.  It felt like the novel could have been edited to be shorter and pack more punch but was still an interesting read. I listened to this novel and the narrator 's English accent really added realism and interest.   This book is recommended for horror readers. 

The Fold by Peter Clines


 Mike Erikson has been hiding his light under a bushel basket.  He was blessed with a extremely high IQ and a memory that has total recall of everything he sees, hears or reads.  But instead of using his intelligence in a top scientific job, he is happy to teach high school English and fly under the radar.

Then his best friend shows up.  He is in charge of top secret government projects and he says he needs someone he can trust to help him out.  A project out in New Mexico has the potential to change the world and the scientists there report groundbreaking successes.  But Mike's friend hears what's under their reports and feels like something is going on.  Mike would be the perfect person and is about to start summer vacation.

When Mike arrives he finds that the project is transportation and the scientists working on it have definitely made a breakthrough.  But Mike soon realizes that things are being hidden from him and there is indeed something else going on there.  Transportation of people and objects would indeed change the world but what is the secret being kept?

This is a new author for me.  Peter Clines hits the right balance giving both those with extensive scientific knowledge and those with just general knowledge interesting premises and understandable explanations of complex scientific concepts.  The main character, Mike, is an interesting one and the reader learns why he considers his memory and intelligence just as much of a burden as a gift.  This book is recommended for science fiction readers. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Anatomy Of Fear by Jonathan Santlofer

 


A serial killer is stalking the streets of New York.  He leaves his victims posed, a sketch of their murder left on the bodies.  Detective Terri Russo is the lead detective on the case and she knows she needs help.  This killer is different from the usual gang killings and domestic violence cases she gets where the killer is fairly easy to find.  She recruits someone from within the department she thinks can help.

Nate Rodriguez is the police sketch artist.  His portraits, done not by the computer but freehand by him as he interviews the victim, are so lifelike that it they are like arrows pointing directly to the criminals.  Nate isn't sure exactly how it works but as he talks to the victims, his mind is able to visualize what they are saying and he is able to draw a face more accurate than the victim can describe.  He has an art degree along with a criminal psychology one.  He went through the police academy but the street didn't suit him and he has been a sketch artist for most of his police career.  Can he and Terri stop this killer?

The author of this novel, Jonathan Santlofer, is also a talented artist.  Along with the text, he has illustrated the action with his sketches of what the killer and Nate both would draw.  These images help the reader see how Nate's work could be of value to the police effort.  This book won the Nero Wolfe Award for best novel and Santlofer's art is displayed in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum Of Art and The Art Institute Of Chicago.  The interplay of text and images give added dimension to the story as does the relationship that grows between Nate and Terri.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison

 

Georgia Nicholson has a problem.  Yes, she has finally captured Robbie The Sex God and has had some major makeout sessions with him.  Yes, she is acknowledged to have the best set of nunga-nungas in her class.  But it's spring break and her parents are forcing her to go away with the family.  Plus Robbie The Sex God is in a band and it's starting to take off so he is always practicing or doing gigs somewhere else.  

Plus there's the added fact that there are tons of gorgeous guys out there.  Dave the Laugh was her last boyfriend and is now dating her friend but there's still a spark between Dave and Georgia.  There's a new sexy teacher at school.  What's a girl to do?

This is the third book in the Georgia Nicholson series.  Georgia is irrepressible and her daily life is enough to keep the reader laughing.  As she deals with the common issues of girls hitting puberty and beyond into the scary world of guys and dating, she takes the reader along for what is sure to be a joyride.  This book is recommended for young adult readers and older readers fondly looking back on their own younger days. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell

 

The year is 1935, the place Prague.  The world is unsettled with Hitler and his minions steadily taking power in Germany and propagating their racial theories wherever they could.  Dr. Viktor Kosarek, a newly established psychiatrist, has just taken a new job.

On the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany stands an old castle fortress named the Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane.  It is the location of Dr. Kosarek's new job.  The castle has stood for centuries and for centuries it has had the reputation of evil.  Now it is used to house only six patients.  Those six are the most heinous murderers of the region and are called The Devil's Six.  They are the patients Dr. Kosarek believes he can help.

Dr. Kosarek believes there is a deeply hidden part of each insane person's personality that he calls The Devil Aspect.  Similar to multiple personalities, it is formed when a youngster encounters such a horrific event that he or she cannot handle seeing it and represses even the memory.  That memory over the years becomes the evil part of the personality and does whatever it wants.  Dr. Kosarek believes that with drugs and hypnosis he can reach this evil and lance it, restoring the patient.

But as he treats each of the six, he finds something he doesn't expect.  He finds that each of them share a common delusion and an evil persona that insists it has survived for centuries and will survive forever.  Can he reach this evil before it is unleashed again?

This is a new author to me.  Russell is a highly regarded author in the horror/suspense genre.  He is the only person to ever win the McIlvanney Prize given to the best book of the year in the genre.  His work slowly builds tension and fear and the conclusion is a surprising one that the reader will not expect.  This book is recommended for readers of horror and suspense. 

A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore

 

Tassie Keltjin is a college freshman.  Like most freshmen, she is finding her way to being an adult and discovering what she wants in life.  She grew up in a small town, her father being a farmer of heritage vegetables that are all the rage in farm to table restaurants.  But Tassie doesn't want to end up in the farm life.

She answers an ad for a job in the college town where she is living.  The couple is a middle-aged couple who are trying to adopt and will need a nanny.  The husband is a lawyer and the wife owns and runs a restaurant.  When they adopt a two year old biracial child, Tassie learns about having someone depend on her.  Emmie is a bright child and a joy to be around.

Tassie also falls in love for the first time.  In one of her classes she sits next to a man who she thinks if Brazilian, Reynaldo.  As they study the Muslim religion in the class, she starts to realize that he is also a Muslim and not from Brazil at all.  It is Tassie's first experience with sex and she is obsessed with Reynaldo, bringing Emmie with her during the day to visit him.

But there are problems brewing.  All of Tassie's worlds blow up almost simultaneously.  There is a family tragedy, issues with her nanny job and a breakup with Reynaldo.  Tassie learns that everything cannot be taken at face value and that it is possible to move on after disappointments.

This book was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for books authored by women.  Moore is known for her short stories but this novel shows that she is also comfortable with the longer format of a novel.  Everyone in the novel has secrets and one of the book's takeaways is that one should not necessarily take everyone met at face value.  It is a coming-of-age story that will leave the reader deeply sympathetic with Tassie and her issues.  This book is recommended for readers of women's fiction.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Great House by Nicole Krauss

 


These interconnected stories center around a Chilean poet, Daniel Varsky and his desk.  He has been in New York but is returning home and offers his furniture to a young novelist whose relationship has just broken up and who is in need of furnishings.  The desk is huge and stately, full of drawers and cubbyholes.  The novelist is intimidated by it at first but soon can't imagine working anywhere else.  Years later, a young woman contacts her and asks for the desk back, stating that she is the poet's daughter.

The desk moves from New York to London to Jerusalem through people related or connected to Daniel.  Daniel himself is one of the disappeared of Chile, his opposition to the government his death warrant.  Along the way, the reader learns the secrets of those who house the desk for a while as it passes from person to person.  

This book was a National Book Award finalist.  Krauss has a deft hand at character building and the connections between those portrayed are interesting.  As the secrets are revealed the reader is pulled into many different stories and locales.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

The House At Belle Fontaine: Stories by Lily Tuck

 

In this anthology, Lily Tuck explores relationships between men and women.  There is Helen whose ex has just died in a car accident.  Alison and Mark take in his niece Leslie and Alison finds out years later that her husband slept multiple times with Leslie.  Claire and James are stationed in Thailand and worry about the effect the military is having on their best friend.  Anne leaves her husband and goes to Paris where she learns that she is just as well off at home.  A woman muses about the impact music has had on her life.  A couple go on an Artic cruise hoping to repair their marriage.  Chingis, a riding instructor and descendant of Genghis Khan, falls in love with one of his pupils, Lena.  Jeanne follows the family for which she is a nanny to Peru. 

In the title story, a young woman has come to France after her divorce.  She is renting a cottage from an elderly man who has both a name recognized in society and a fortune he made in business.  He lives next door in a mansion he had built but this is the house he grew up in and lived in with his wife.  He invites the woman to dinner and she goes where she learns about the history of the house and his life.  

These stories demonstrate the difficulty of finding and maintaining a relationship.  These couples are either in the throes of ending a relationship or have done so.  Sometimes the end is dramatic, sometimes boredom sets in and kills the love that existed.  There are affairs and deceit but through it all Tuck writes the truth as she sees it.  Her writing style is spare yet eloquent and readers will be intrigued by these differing views of doomed relationships.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers. 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Last Girl by Jane Casey

 

DC Maeve Kerrigan and her supervisor, DI Josh Derwent, have caught a bad case.  Philip Kennford is a defense attorney and a good one.  He lives in an expensive house with his wife, Vita and their teenage twin girls, Laura and Lydia.  But money doesn't ward off tragedy.  Someone has brutally murdered Vita and Laura in their living room with a knife.  

Kennford is admired for his legal expertise but that's about all.  He is a serial adulterer and has caused havoc in many lives because of it.  He doesn't seem that overwhelmed with grief and he is definitely keeping secrets.  But when Maeve and Derwent delve a bit deeper, that seems to be a pattern in this family.  Vita and Laura had their set of secrets and so does Lydia who is traumatized and refusing to share what she knows.

Then there are all the other things clamoring for attention.  There's a gangland war going on and their supervisor is getting lots of pressure to get that one solved.  Maeve's boyfriend, Rob, left their group and transferred when he and Maeve went public with their relationship.  Now he is not sleeping and staring out the windows at night but not sharing what's wrong.  Even worse, Maeve's stalker is back and threatening both Maeve and Rob's lives.  

This is the third book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and the first novel I've read by this author.  It is a good police procedural with the power structure and daily tensions and balancing acts necessary written and explained well.  Maeve is deeply independent, a trait that serves her well in her work and less well in her personal life.  I'll definitely be reading more by this author in this series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.