Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Abstainer by Ian McGuire


The year is 1867 and the place is Manchester, England.  Tensions are high as three men from the Fenian organization of rebels are being hung at dawn for the death of a policeman.  The police are on high alert, especially Head Constable James O'Connor.  There are expectations of trouble and although the hangings go off as planned, there are plans being made in the rebel group for revenge.  

O'Connor is a newcomer to Manchester and an odd choice for Head Constable being an Irishman in a town that fears the Irish.  He was serving in Ireland when he lost his wife and child to illness and lost himself in drink.  He should have been fired but instead the powers that be had him transferred to Manchester to pull himself together and move on with his life.  He is alone in his new life.  The other policeman he works with don't trust him as their enemy are the Fenians.  He has an extensive network of Fenian informers so is a necessary evil to the police but the Irish don't accept him either as their enemy is the police.  He inhabits a no man's land between the two factions, while trying to also defeat the alcoholism that has forced him to this location.

Stephen Doyle is a hired assassin.  He has come from America to Manchester, hired by the Fenians, in order to assassinate someone in the power structure in retaliation for the three hangings.  Doyle is a veteran of the Civil War where he learned to kill without mercy.  He is there only to kill and his nemesis becomes O'Connor.  The two are set against each other and their rivalry will last until one of them is dead.

Ian McGuire is best known for his novel, The North Water, which was a Booker longlist nominee and one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the year.  Like that title, The Abstainer tells the harsh struggle of men pitted against each other while trying to maintain the code that they believe is the honorable way of life.  This is a powerful book that demands a lot of its reader and there are no fairytale endings in McGuire's bleak worlds, but the essential questions he asks about good and evil are worth the effort.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction,.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Impudent Ones by Marguerite Duras


This is the story of the Taneran family, a French family from the upper class who have fallen on hard times.  In addition to their residence in the city, they own a vineyard in the French countryside.  The matriarch of the family struggles to maintain the family's standard of living and to keep her children moving forward.  She greatly favors the son, Jacque, who by most objective standards is a horrid person only interested in himself and his comforts.  Her daughter, Maud is often ignored or put in a secondary situation.

As the novel opens, the family has come down to the country.  The mother is attempting to sell the vineyard to a local family and is willing to sacrifice Maud to be their son's wife in order to seal the deal.  Maud, on the other hand, is uninterested in the suitor picked for her and is fascinated by a man named George who is a friend of her brother.  

This was Duras' debut novel but has only now been translated and available in English.  It foreshadows many of the themes that are familiar to readers of Duras' later works such as The Lover.  It portrays family dynamics and the second class status of women.  Women's sexuality is explored but also seen as a source of shame in the social environment unless all rules are followed.

I listened to this novel.  The narrator had a calm voice that accurately portrayed the slow moving action of being in the country and falling into relationships.  After the book was over, there was about an hour of supplementary material, discussing Duras' work in general and the path that this book took to get to market.  It took several years and reworking before it was published.  Readers will be intrigued by the intricate familial relationships and the dawning of women demanding to be valued as much as men.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian


Lianna Ahlberg is twenty-one and in college, her little sister Paige twelve when their mother disappeared.  Annalee Ahlberg is an accomplished architect with a satisfying life except for one thing.  She is a sleepwalker.  Her husband is out of town at a conference and Annalee goes out in the middle of the night and doesn't return.  Despite searches, nothing is found to give a clue to her whereabouts.  

Lianna leaves college and comes home to wait for the resolution.  She suspects the worst.  One other time she had rescued her mother in the middle of the night.  Annalee had been perched on a bridge about to jump or fall when Lianna finds her and gets her home.  This time no one was there to find her.

Months later the family is still in limbo.  Lianna is running the house, taking Paige to her swimming and skiing practices and overseeing her homework.  She has started seeing a detective on the case, Gavin Rikert.  She is drawn to Gavin but put off by the fact that Gavin knew Annalee, in fact was a friend of hers.  Gavin is also a sleepwalker and he and Annalee met and formed a support group or at least that's what Gavin says.  Was there more there?  Did Annalee fall into the river or did she meet a murderer while out wandering?

This book is a slow moving story that quietly builds tension and ends with a surprising climax.  The reader will learn much about the phenomenon of sleepwalking and its various forms.  The love story is interesting and gives more clues about the unwinding of the mystery of Annalee's disappearance.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Caller's Game by J.D. Barker


Jordan Briggs is at the top of her game.  She has a call in talk radio show on SiriusFM and is a female shock jock, quick with a quip.  Her listeners never know what she will do or say and that's the hook that keeps them listening and Jordan a star.  But her fame and fortune comes with a price.  She's rich but has no time to enjoy her fortune. Her marriage is over and her relationship with her daughter, Charlotte, lacks time and depth.  She is considered cold and demanding by her staff and friends are another luxury she has put aside.

When the softspoken caller comes on the air, Jordan is about to cut him off quickly.  He doesn't sound like someone who can provide an exciting show.  But the caller asks her a question; taxis or Ubers?  Jordan isn't sure what he is asking but it quickly becomes clear. The man is planning to kill the driver of either a taxi or an Uber.  Detective Cole, on the street on traffic duty after irritating his superior, is the unlucky policeman who witnesses the first murder. 

It is soon clear that the first murder is just an opening salvo.  The caller seems to have plotted a plan that gives him access to Jordan's building as well as landmarks around New York City.  The murders start to add up, most by bombs that have been planted.  Jordan starts to realize that the man is focused on her.  Charlotte is on site as she has been dropped off by Jordan's ex.  Jordan must keep the man talking while hoping the police can find and disarm him.  But it is soon clear that Jordan will have to use all her wits and savvy to keep the man engaged and that the entire plot is a payback for a sordid episode in her past.  Can the police and Jordan find the caller before he manages to kill more people?

This novel is a rollercoaster ride.  The tension starts early and continues to racket up chapter after chapter.  J.D. Barker is a rising star in the thriller genre and this book will enhance that reputation even more.  There is character development of the main characters and a full slate of secondary characters each of whom plays a part.  The narrators were effective in portraying the rising tension and the split second decisions that have to be made.  This novel is recommended for thriller readers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo


The Opgard brothers grow up in rural Norway on the family farm their father calls The Kingdom.  Roy is the older brother, Carl the youngest.  Their father is hard and brutal, constantly pushing the boys.  Roy does what he can to protect Carl.  Carl is more like their mother, good-looking and full of charm.  Roy is slower, the victim of dyslexia which is misdiagnosed as mental issues.  Roy gets a job with their uncle in his garage; Carl shines at school.  But there are dark secrets up on the mountain that is the farm.  At night, the father abuses Carl with Roy in the bunk above, unable to help and listening to his brother's cries.   It leaves Roy determined to do whatever it takes to save Carl.

When the brothers grow up Roy stays on the farm, working at the service station which the garage has become.  Carl got out at seventeen, moving to the United States on a college scholarship.  Now he has come home, driving a shiny Cadillac and bringing a beautiful wife with him.  Carl is successful and has come home to build his vision; a luxury hotel on the farmland.  He has the gift of gab and soon the entire village has bought into the scheme.  But things go badly and soon there are tensions on the job site and with those the Opgard brothers grew up around.  There are secrets on the mountain and unexplained deaths.  There are rumors that the brothers have had something to do with the deaths.  But now, Roy has fallen in love with Carl's wife and there is an added layer of betrayal between the two brothers.  

Jo Nesbo is known for his Harry Hole series, a detective series with a brooding hero.  This novel is a standalone and it is also bleak and suspenseful.  Roy is a man torn by conflicting loyalties and secrets that he must keep in order to protect his younger brother.  The reader will emphasize with Roy even as he descends further and further into actions that are unforgivable.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Stung by William Deverell


Multinational corporation Chemican has released a new pesticide.  The issue is that it tends to kill the honeybees that are necessary to pollinate plants on which we all depend.  The corporation denies that it's product is the culprit for the massive bee deaths and science can not definitively tie it to the deaths.  But environmentalist groups are sure that the pesticide is the culprit and one Canadian group makes plans to counter the release of more.

Seven young people, known as the Sarnia Seven, take matters into their own hands.  A young woman, who flirts with and seduces a man who has all the passwords to the factory entrances.  With the information she is able to get the group breaks into the factory and creates havoc.  All seven are arrested and put on trial.

This brings in lawyer Arthur Beauchamp.  Beauchamp has practiced law for many years although he has been out of the courtroom for several years.  He has been spending time on his remote island on the Canadian coast where he farms and enjoys the company of his loyal dog.  Beauchamp is drafted for the defense but what can he do?  There's no doubt the group did the deed and that what they did was against the law.  How can he defend them?  He hires an investigator and hopes for ammunition to fight against the prosecution.  His defense is that there are times when breaking the law is forgivable when the overall good is served.  Will that be enough?

I listened to this book.  There were three narrators; Rebecca Auerbach, Steve Camyn and Chris Humphreys.  Of the three, my favorite was the narrator giving Arthur's story.  I found the female narrator's voice a bit grating and not necessarily a good match for the free spirit of the female lead she was representing.

This is the latest novel in the Arthur Beauchamp series.  Legal thriller fans will find much to like in the courtroom scenes and exposure to Canadian law and how it differs from that found in American courts.  Some fans will be turned off by the constant references to older men and their sexual hijinks and the assumption that women decades younger are eager to fulfill the men's desires.  The narrative brings up the issues of the environmental crisis and the question of what is permissible when trying to save the world as we know it.  This book is recommended for legal thriller readers.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Cruel Intent by J.A. Jance


Ali Reynolds is in the middle of an extensive home renovation.  She has just bought an old mansion in Sedona, Arizona and since she is a former television reporter, her agent got one of the television home renovation shows interested.  Ali is living off-site with her son while the mansion is being brought back to life.  Her days are filled with infrastructure and decor decisions but she has the help of the former butler of the estate and of course, her contractor who is making sure everything happens correctly and on a schedule.

When the contractor's wife is found murdered, everything comes to a stop.  Bryan swears he had nothing to do with the murder but there is a hole in his schedule that could just allow the timing to work out.  Add that to the fact that his wife was active on a swinging married online site and there was plenty of motive.  Ali is sure that Bryan is innocent but she's about the only one.  The fact that she has been dating the man in charge of the police investigation adds to the complications.  As Ali learns more on her own, she puts herself firmly into the killer's sights.  Can she solve the mystery before the killer gets to her?

This is the fourth Ali Reynolds novel in the series.  Ali has had a complicated life and now is no different.  Her son is about to get married and there are issues with his fiancĂ©e.  Her mother is more interested in Ali's life than Ali is comfortable with and there is the matter of her romantic life which Ali wants to put on hold but seems unable to.  The action at the end is inevitable but horrifying and readers will rush to the finish to find all the answers.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Wizards edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois


In this 2007 anthology, many of the biggest names in fantasy have come together with stories of magic and wizards.  All stories are original to this work.  The authors include Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Mary Rosenblum, Kage Baker, Eoin Colfer, Jane Yolen, Tad Williams, Patricia McKillip, Elizabeth Hand, Andy Duncan, Peter Beagle, Nancy Kress, Jeffrey Ford, Tanith Lee, Terry Bisson, Terry Dowling, Gene Wolfe and Orson Scott Card. 

The stories vary in length and focus although all share the criteria of magic and wizards being the main theme.  The book ends with a novella by Orson Scott Card called Stonefather about a boy who learns he is a stone wizard after he runs away and ends up in a city that abhors stone magic.  Of the other stories, my personal favorite was Jane Yolen's Slipping Sideways Through Eternity which is about a young girl and the time traveler magician Elijah.  Each reader will find their own personal favorite as they sample the best in fantasy.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian


Neil Narayan is a typical Indian teenager, caught up in his parents' expectations of high achievements and future successes.  His older sister, Prachi, is the golden girl with early acceptance to Duke and a finalist for the Miss Teenage Georgia.  He lives in an Atlanta suburb full of doctors, lawyers, accountants and other CEO's all of whom expect the same from their children while maintaining the Indian culture many of these parents brought over when they arrived to go to college in the United States.  

But Neil has a problem.  He just isn't feeling it.  He doesn't make bad grades but he isn't a high flyer.  He doesn't already know what he wants to do and isn't on the merry-go-round of constant activities to pad his upcoming college applications.  He wonders how all his peers are so motivated and know exactly what they want.  His next door neighbor, Anita Dayal, is another example of someone fated to fly high.  They have been friends forever growing up together although that friendship has taken a hit in the social standards of high school.  But he is still in and out of the house she shares with her mother, Anjali, to help with things that her husband can't do since he is out in California with the software company he created.  Neil comes across the secret of Anita's motivation and persistence one day by mistake.  Her mother is lifting small pieces of gold jewelry from the families she caters to.  That jewelry, imbued with their motivation and success, is melted down and put into a drink that Anita takes religiously.  Neil wants that same help and soon he is taking the drink also and his grades and activities improve dramatically.  Everything is going well until a disaster crashes all that Neil knows.

Sanjena Sathian has written a novel exploring a culture most readers don't know much about.  A common stereotype is that Indians are extremely smart but most who throw off such a statement don't know about the parental focus that goes into the academic success and career trajectories they envy.  This debut novel from an Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate refocuses the coming of age story into a viewpoint of the immigrant experience as well.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Aviary by Deidre McNamer


Things aren't going well at the Pleasant Run facility.  A building of lower rent apartments for seniors, it is showing signs of age and maintenance suddenly seems to be neglected.  The elevator has been out for several weeks which is a major issue for many of the seniors who are still mobile but not up to tackling several flights of stairs multiple times a day.  Instead they are basically trapped in their apartments.  Trash collection has been lagging since the new manager, Herbie, has appeared.  Herbie is a skulker, always around trying to find violations of policies but impossible to locate when something goes wrong that he is responsible for fixing.  Worst of all, there are rumors that the building is about to be sold so that high end condominiums can be built and sold.

The residents are a mixed bunch.  Rydell is a former professor who is hoping to land one more job at his former college.  Viola has tons of stories about an exciting past that most of her friends discount.  Cassie is Viola's friend but caught in a sea of depression.  Her husband and only child have both died and she wonders what is worth continuing on for.  Leo is a quiet man who spends his time painting landscapes.  Clayton is a teenager who seems to be hanging around for no discernible reason.  

Then there is a fire which starts in manager Herbie's apartment.  After it is put out, it becomes apparent that both Herbie and Viola have disappeared.  Lander Maki is the fire investigator who must decide if this was a fire caused by carelessness or if it was arson.  Is the fire related to the disappearances?

Deidre McNamer is a university creative writing professor.  She has written several other highly regarded novels such as My Russian which was a New York Times Notable Book.  In this novel, she outlines the issues that those of us lucky enough to become elderly will face.  Often lonely and neglected, it is unclear how best to alleviate the issues that beset this age group but it is clear that warehousing is not the answer.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Arcadia by Lauren Groff


The 1970's were the Decade of Love.  All over the world, young people flocked to rallies and communes, sure that they were creating a brave new world based on love and naturalness.  Handy was one such man.  He was a singer and somehow managed to acquire the title to a deserted mansion and land in upper New York.  On it, he and his band of insiders create Arcadia.

Arcadia is to be the place where all can live and be free.  There is a dairy, a bakery, a laundry and greenhouses.  There is a nursery for the youngest children and a barracks for the older kids.  Handy's wife is Astrid who is a midwife.  The other founding couple is Abe and Hannah.  Abe is a master carpenter and renovates the mansion to be the main house for all.  The couple has one son, a boy called Bit.

But paradise is hard to sustain.  There is little money coming in and food is sometimes hard to come by.  Politics start to arise with cliques forming and soon there are those who come to live with no expectation that they will work and give back.  Eventually the commune falls apart, the inhabitants disappearing into the nights.

Twenty years later, Bit is a photography instructor.  He has married Helle, who is Handy and Astrid's daughter and their friends are the kids they grew up with on the commune.  No matter how far away they are living they all keep up with each other and are there for each other.  Bit and Helle have a daughter, Grete, and Bit feels that his life is complete.  But life isn't like that.  Several life disasters send him back to Arcadia to oversee his parents' aging needs.  

This is a beautiful book.  Groff is an amazing writer and I'd read anything she wrote.  She understands the desperation that lives all seem to encounter and the basic truth that our lives are enriched by love and kindness.  Horrible things happen to her characters just as horrible things happen to many of us but she gives hope that things will follow a natural path and that the good outweighs the bad.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Show No Fear by Perri O'Shaughnessy


Nina Reilly is barely holding her head above water.  She is a single mother and trying desperately to improve life for her son Bob and herself.  Nina is working as a paralegal by day and going to law school at night.  Her life is a constant round of working, studying and finding time to play and work with Bob.  

Nina's personal life is not trouble free either. Her parents are divorced. Her mother has been diagnosed with an ongoing condition which affects her health and balance.  After going to a doctor for some alternative medicine, she is left much worse off and is contemplating a lawsuit.  Nina's younger brother is drifting through life, out of college and dabbling in drugs.  Her father has just informed her that he is having a new baby with his much younger wife.  Then there is Richard.  Richard is Bob's father but Nina didn't tell him about the baby when she got pregnant and he has never been a part of Bob's life.  Although Richard is a successful attorney, his narcissistic personality and controlling nature made him someone to avoid not someone to parent a child with.  Now suddenly, Richard has shown up and is making noises about wanting a relationship with his son. 

Things take a much worse turn when Richard's body is discovered.  Nina is an instant suspect as are her brother, father and mother.  Richard had a partner who needed and feared him.  He had other women in his past who regard their time with him as a mistake.  He had debts at every gambling establishment nearby.  Who killed Richard?

Nina had met an interesting man named Paul but it turns out that he is the investigating officer of Richard's murder.  Although Paul is interested in Nina, she realizes that it would be a mistake to get involved with him.  As he investigates the murder, things keep coming back to Nina and her family.  Who is responsible?

This novel is part of the Nina Reilly series.  Although it isn't the first in the series, it gives readers a look back to the time before Nina becomes an attorney and gives her story.  Readers will find themselves cheering for Nina who balances all her responsibilities while forging a future for her son and herself against long odds.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Booksie's Shelves, June 8, 2021


Summer has arrived in North Carolina.  It has been hot and steamy and all the trees have bloomed.  We have been cautiously getting back to normal.  We have eaten out in restaurants several times and one of my book clubs met in person last month although outside.  It is wonderful to start getting back to normal and picking up plans that have been put on the back burner.  I worried that my reading would take a back seat once that happened but last month I read seventeen books so it's been fine so far.  Here's what's come through the door:

  1.  The Photographer, Mary Dixie Carter, thriller, sent by publisher
  2. A People's History Of The Supreme Court, Peter Irons, nonfiction, purchased
  3. Savage Tongues, Azareen Oloomi, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  4. How To Find Your Way In The Dark, Derek Miller, mystery, sent by publisher
  5. In The Aftermath, Jane Ward, mystery, sent by publisher
  6. The Artist Colony, Joanna Fitzpatrick, historical fiction, sent by publisher
  7. The Magician, Colm Toibin, literary fiction, sent by publisher
Here's the ebooks I've purchased:
  1. A Children's Bible, Lydia Millet, literary fiction
  2. The Watcher Girl, Minka Kent, thriller
  3. In Her Tracks, Robert Dugoni, thriller
  4. Stoned, Aja Raden, nonfiction
  5. The First To Lie, Hank Phillippi Ryan, mystery
  6. Beneath Devil's Bridge, Loreth Anne White, thriller
  7. Long Bright River, Liz Moore, mystery
  8. The Grave Tattoo, Val McDermid, mystery
  9. The Pale Faced Lie, David Crow, memoir
  10. Red Bones, Ann Cleeves, mystery
  11. Blue Monday, Nicci French, mystery
  12. Weather, Jenny Offill, literary fiction
  13. The Old Devils, Kingsley Amis, literary fiction
  14. Blue Lightning, Ann Cleeves, mystery
  15. Beneath Black Sails, Clare Sager, pirate fiction
  16. Neither Here Nor There, Bill Bryson, nonfiction
  17. Those Girls, Chevy Stevens, thriller
  18. Soulsmith, Will Wight, fantasy
  19. Blackflame, Will Wight, fantasy
  20. Skysworn, Will Wight, fantasy
  21. Ghostwater, Will Wight, fantasy
  22. Underlord, Will Wight, fantasy
  23. Uncrowned, Will Wight, fantasy
  24. Wintersteel, Will Wight, fantasy
  25. Bloodline, Will Wight, fantasy
  26. Lethal Guardian, M. William Phelps, true crime
  27. Choose Me, Tess Gerritsen, mystery
  28. The Seven Day Switch, Kelly Harms, woman's fiction
  29. The Rib King, Ladee Hubbard, literary fiction
  30. Blind Your Ponies, Stanley Gordon West, literary fiction
Here's what I'm reading:
  1. Blue Monday, Nicci French, mystery
  2. Arcadia, Lauren Groff, literary fiction
  3. The Kingdom, Jo Nesbo, thriller
  4. Wizards, anthology
  5. The Queen Of The Night, Alexander Chee
Happy Reading!

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman


Nina Hill has a life that suits her just fine.  She has a job in a bookstore and since reading is her favorite activity, she loves it.  She has her cat to keep her company.  She has her trivia team for a social activity plus she runs a couple of book groups at the store.  She grew up with a mother who was rarely home and no father in sight.  Her mother was a freelance photographer who wouldn't say anything about Nina's dad.

But changes are on the way.  Nina is informed that she does have a dad and he has died.  Furthermore, he left a huge family as he was married multiple times with children with each wife.  Now Nina has tons of relatives, some of whom are not happy with a new person being in the will.  

Things are changing elsewhere as well.  The bookstore is struggling financially and may not be able to survive.  There is a man on another trivia team who Nina might be interested in and who might be interested back.  All of a sudden there are so many things up in the air that Nina doesn't know what to do next.  

Abbi Waxman has written a novel that will resonate with many readers.  It is a coming of age story that readers in their twenties who are still figuring out their lives will appreciate.  Nina is interesting and the reader will cheer for her to get exactly what she wants once she figures it out.  This book is recommended for readers of young adult books.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Irreparable Harm by Melissa Miller


The news is dire.  A plane has plowed into a mountainside, killing all aboard.  What could cause such a tragedy?  Mechanical failure?  Pilot error?  Whatever it is, there will be legal implications for the airline, Hemisphere Air.  Sasha McCandless works as a lawyer at the firm representing the airline.  The first lawsuits for the survivors are ready to file the day after the crash.  The airline requests that Sasha head up the team of lawyers who will defend against the suits.  It's a huge career boost for Sasha who is on the cusp of making partner.  That is, a huge boost if she is successful and a career killer if she fails.

As Sasha starts to look into the case, she begins to doubt that Hemisphere is at fault at all.  Instead she believes that the airline has been the victim of terrorists; not terrorists for a cause but terrorists who want to make millions.  They have created software that will incapacitate the manual controls and can send a plane to its doom.  They can sell this software to the airlines for millions if not billions of dollars.  Now those same people have Sasha in their sights.  

Sasha soon finds that the other side is ready to play rough. People involved in the case are killed and Sasha herself is attacked several times.  Luckily, she has help in the form of Leo Connelly, a federal air marshall.  She also has her Krav Maga training which makes her a bad person to attack.  Can Sasha and Leo find the terrorists before they find and put an end to them?

I listened to this novel.  The narrator, Suzanne Fortin, read competently but I would not search out another narration by her.  Her tone was close to a monotone and didn't appreciably change regardless of the action occurring.  In a thriller, the narration should indicate when something major is happening.

Melissa Miller is a former attorney herself.  That gives her legal thrillers the necessary expertise and knowledge of legal procedures that makes them believeable. She has written more than two dozen legal thrillers and this title is the introductory one in the Sasha McCandless series.  This book is recommended for legal thriller readers.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

I Hear The Sirens In The Street by Adrian McKinty


The time is 1982 and the place is Belfast, Ireland in the midst of 'The Troubles'.  Detective Inspector Sean Duffy is an usual detective in this time and place.  He is a college graduate in psychology rather than coming to the police straight out of secondary education.  He is also a Catholic which makes him mistrusted both by the other police who are overwhelmingly Protestant and who regard Catholics as those who make their daily lives dangerous and by the Catholics around him who regard him as a traitor.

Life is never boring for a policeman.  The latest case is a man found stuffed in a suitcase.  After investigating, the man turns out to be an American tourist who is an ex-military man judging by a tattoo.  He has been poisoned by a rare poison. Who is he and what in the world was he doing in Northern Ireland to get himself killed?  The investigation uncovers links to American industries relocating to Ireland, notably the automotive factory owned by John DeLoren, aristocratic Irish landowners down on their luck, land rich but money poor and ready to make money however, and enticing women who seem to take an interest in Duffy.

Along with the investigation there is plenty of other things going on.  The Troubles make every day tense with the need to check under one's car every time before turning the ignition.  A riot on Duffy's street flares up when a young African-American woman moves in to the dismay of those already living there.  There are tensions at work as Duffy tries to do what needs to be done regardless of rules and while training his subordinates.  Then there is a changing list of women who he is interested in.

I listened to this novel and it was a glorious experience.  The narrator is Gerald Doyle who has narrated scores of novels.  He was an out of work actor who more or less fell into reading audiobooks and his warm, lilting Irish voice is perfect as a reflection of Duffy.  The book is the second in the Sean Duffy series and readers will find a multilayered book that portrays the era as well as providing a twisting mystery.  This book is recommended for readers of mystery.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan


This is novel nine in Robert Jordan's epic fantasy The Wheel Of Time.  In this story, Elayne has returned home and is working to consolidate her claim to the throne.  Rand has come to the realization that some of the men he has trained to work alongside him are treacherous and trying to kill him.  Perrin discovers that his wife Faile has been kidnapped by a band of Aiel and he leaves to rescue her.  Mat has been recuperating from injuries and is ready to leave the kingdom where he has been the lover of the queen and somehow agrees to break free several Aes Sedai imprisoned by the Seanchan.  

As the story progresses, several important events happen.  Rand resolves his conflict about loving three women, Elayne, Min and Aviendha.  The book moves toward a climatic end where Rand attempts to accomplish the impossible; take the taint out of accessing the Power.  Without the taint, he stands a chance of not going mad as all men before him had done.

This was one of the more eventful novels in the series.  Much more happens than outlined before and the books remain an incredibly detailed story that intertwines many threads of diverse events.  There are scores of characters to keep track of and plots and subplots, betrayals and victories.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty


In London, two women meet and become friends.  They couldn't be more different.  Hannah is an Australian who has been in London for three months.  She is working a mediocre job she dislikes and has made no friends.  She punishes herself physically by running for hours and denying herself pleasures.  She is running from a secret in her past; a secret she cannot forgive herself for.

India is running also although she would refer to it as traveling.  She is also Australian and has been moving around the world for months, staying nowhere more than a few weeks, making new friends everywhere she goes.  She is impulsive and bold, changing her appearance often.  When she meets Hannah, she is determined to solve her mystery and help her be happier.  Can the two women help each other?

Nicola Moriarty has written an intriguing story of two women who meet by chance and who are immediately drawn into each other's lives.  There is a bit more coincidence in the book's resolution than I prefer but overall it is a charming story with lessons for every reader.  This book is recommended for readers of women's fiction.