Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Woman in the Window

Noir. Fans of suspense thrillers will find much to enjoy in a debut novel titled, The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn, a pseudonym of Daniel Mallory, who had worked as an editor at Morrow. Finn delivers great complex characters, the gradual unveiling of an entertaining plot, and a narrative that offers homage to great noir films. I found my reading pace remained steady, like the regular frames of a film as sentences went by a constant clip. If you've been entertained by a Hitchcock film and enjoy noir, chances are you'll like this novel and the fine writing it offers. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Woman in the Window from amazon.com.

A Time of Love and Tartan

Connections. The twelfth collection of short pieces from The Scotsman featuring the neighborhood of 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh is titled, A Time of Love and Tartan. Instead of my usual method with this series of reading just a few short chapters over the course of several weeks, I read through it all in just two sittings. As with all of Smith's writing, the characters are memorable and interesting. There's kindness and love underlying most episodes, and the right people get their comeuppance, eventually. The plot moves along at the usual deliberative pace in this collection, and fans of the series will love the prospect that Irene may actually be leaving Stuart, Bertie and Ulysses behind to leave for Aberdeen. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase A Time of Love and Tartan from amazon.com.

Munich

Delay. Chances are, if your education is anything like mine, all you really think of when the name Neville Chamberlain comes to mind is "appeasement," something our leaders should avoid. In his novel titled, Munich, Robert Harris covers just a few days in 1938, the days before and after Chamberlain's meeting with Hitler in Munich over Germany's takeover of the Sudetenland, a German speaking area of what was Czechoslovakia. As in earlier novels, Harris describes settings with great detail, offers an interesting and engaging plot, and leads readers to a view of Chamberlain that is kinder now than in recent decades. In the novel, the delay that Chamberlain achieved in Munich was in response to the lack of preparedness in England to engage in war with Germany. As in our lives, when our choices are less than satisfying, we will select the least bad alternative, and Harris presents Chamberlain as doing just that in 1938. He delayed confrontation with Hitler until the country was ready, and that prudent act was in no way appeasement. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Munich from amazon.com.

Hellbent

Greenlight. The third Orphan X novel by Gregg Hurwitz is titled, Hellbent. Any reader who has not read the earlier novels in this series will lose a lot by starting with this installment. For fans of the series, this third novel moves the action forward violently and expertly, while filling in more of protagonist Evan Smoak's backstory. A new and interesting character joins the story. There's a big revelation of who has given the greenlight to eliminate Orphan X, and a setup toward the next installment. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Hellbent from amazon.com.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

Voice. I was reminded when reading every page of the new short story collection by the late Denis Johnson titled, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, that he will no longer be sharing his voice with fans. Each of the five short stories in this collection offers deep insight into human nature and provides a lyrical telling of stories about the vibrancy of life. Like most of us, these characters are limited by constraints of one kind or another, they have a good sense of humor, and their hopes resonate with our own. Like many great writers, Johnson had the ability to introduce us to people who seem to be not at all like us, and after a while we realize how much we have in common. Readers who enjoy expertly written short stories are those most likely to enjoy this collection. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Largesse of the Sea Maiden from amazon.com.

This Could Hurt

Human. In her novel titled, This Could Hurt, Jillian Medoff puts the "human" in Human Resources. Workplace novels can often lean toward shallow and boring stereotypes. While Medoff veers in that direction sometimes in this novel, for the most part she creates interesting and complex characters who behave in ways, both good and bad, that will resonate for most readers. Set mostly during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, the novel offers a plot that fits that time very well. Each character has to respond to change, like it or not. Rating: Three-star (It's ok) Click here to purchase This Could Hurt from amazon.com.

Peach

Words. I read Emma Glass' novel titled, Peach, in a single sitting. My reaction to this odd novel when I finished was something like, "Huh. What was that all about?" I almost considered another reading but decided the novel would be no less odd on a second reading. The prose is lyrical, and the words carefully chosen for rhythm. Sample a page or two to see if you have an appetite for what Emma Glass offers in her odd debut novel. Rating: Three-star (It's ok) Click here to purchase Peach from amazon.com.