Saturday, November 9, 2019

Agent Running in the Field

Anger. Prolific spy novelist John le Carré taps into the prevailing emotion of anger throughout contemporary life in his novel titled, Agent Running in the Field. Protagonist Nat has put in his time in the field for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service running agents, and he seethes as he sees the signals that he might become sidelined. One advantage of his recall to London is the chance to play more badminton at his club, where he’s champion. He begins regular matches with Ed, a player half his age and both men enjoy the competitiveness of their contests. Over beer, Ed expresses anger about Brexit, Trump, and his job. Nat bumps into many of the elements of the toxic angry political environment in his new role where he has been placed in charge of a small group of spies. With great writing skill, le Carré moves the story along swiftly, allowing the anger to flow, and leading the interesting cast of characters toward a very satisfying resolution. Fans of le Carré and spy fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Agent Running in the Field from amazon.com.

Blue Moon

Mayhem. The twenty-fourth installment in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child is a novel titled, Blue Moon. This time out, Reacher does a good deed to help an old man, and one thing leads to another as a week of mayhem unfolds. The old man was on his way to repay a loan from a loan shark affiliated with the town’s Albanian gang. Neither Reacher nor the old man understood why the loan shark didn’t show up to receive the payment. Within the first few pages, readers learn that a gang war has erupted between the Albanians and Ukrainians, a conflict that Reacher stokes. The body count is high in this novel as Reacher uses all his skills to do the right thing. By the time Reacher leaves town the community is much better off. Fans of this series and any reader who likes character-driven action novels will enjoy this book. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Blue Moon from amazon.com.

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce

Influencers. I’m willing to hazard a guess that more books have been written about the relationships between mothers and daughters than fathers and sons. Colm Toibin has written a brisk and interesting book titled, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce, about William Wilde, John Butler Yeats and John Joyce, the fathers of writers Oscar, W.B. and James respectively. Toibin brings to life the marvelous imperfections of these interesting fathers and the ways in which they influenced the lives of their sons and how they show up in the writers’ work. Fans of Irish Literature are those readers most likely to enjoy this finely written book that walks us through Dublin and offers great insight into complex relationships. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Mad Bad Dangerous to Know from amazon.com.

Newcomer

Details. Tokyo detective Kyoichiro Kaga claims a well-earned place among the great fictional detectives. In the second novel titled, Newcomer, in this series by Keigo Higoshiro, Kaga has been assigned to a new precinct. Even before he’s assigned his first case, Kaga walks through the neighborhood getting to know people and places, constantly noticing things. Thanks to the details that Kaga pays attention to, he unravels the secrets that solve a murder case. Fans of character-based crime fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel and this series. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Newcomer from amazon.com.

Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise

Minorities. Eboo Patel offers readers a robust defense of religious diversity in his book titled, Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. Following Patel’s argument, there are commentaries on the subject by others. This book is part of a series called, Our Compelling Interests. Patel describes his view of what the American promise is, and how minorities enhance the common good. Diversity is a great strength in the life of our country, and religious diversity is of special value. If you believe that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation, you should read this book and reflect on what our future should be like. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Out of Many Faiths from amazon.com.

The Turn of the Key

Story. My prescription for you on the next cold and windy night is to pour a few fingers of a fine single malt for yourself and sit in a comfortable chair with a copy of Ruth Ware’s novel titled, The Turn of the Key. Ware eases us into the story of Rowan Caine written in the form of Rowan’s letter to her attorney from prison where she awaits trial for murder. The action builds slowly, so sip at leisure. Once the action builds, you will soon forget there is a beverage at your side. Ware uses the whole gothic toolbox for this novel: a remote setting in the Scottish Highlands, a young woman accepting a lucrative job as a nanny, loads of red herrings, spooky settings, superstitions and ghosts, and a bit of romance. While the early exposition might seem plodding, seeds are planted, and the second half of the novel races toward an exciting end well before your glass of scotch is consumed. The setting at Heatherbrae House blends the horrors of smart home technology with a house that was the place for tragedy in the past. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Turn of the Key from amazon.com.

America's Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King

Questions. Any Stephen King fan who has noted the religious imagery and themes in his writing should consider reading Douglas Cowen’s book titled, America’s Dark Theologian. Cowan explores all the core questions that King raises in his writing. This invitation to questioning is prevalent throughout King’s writing, and he is always skeptical about those who purport to have the answers to life’s big questions. Readers who may not know why we love horror may come away from this book with greater understanding. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase America’s Dark Theologian from amazon.com.