Monday, December 9, 2019

The Siberian Dilemma

Bears. The ninth novel by Martin Cruz Smith to feature Moscow investigator Arkady Renko is titled, The Siberian Dilemma. Fans of character driven crime fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel and this series. Renko leaves Moscow to find his girlfriend Tatiana who’s been away for over a month and her absence is giving Renko agita. Outside his urban element, Renko encounters new threats, including bears of various types. Smith includes many elements of contemporary Russian life: oligarchs, corrupt politics and the risks to journalists as they do their work. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Siberian Dilemma from amazon.com.

The Man That Got Away

Brighton. Lynne Truss returns to Brighton with the second Constable Twitten novel titled, The Man That Got Away. The humor in this novel exceeds the first installment and will appeal to those readers who enjoy a good spoof of the crime mystery genre. The full cast of characters will amuse most readers and as Twitten settles into Brighton, he becomes even more loveable and perhaps even a bit flexible. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Man That Got Away from amazon.com.

Cheer Up Mr. Widdicombe

Class. Readers with an appetite for wit and satire should consider reading Evan James’ debut novel titled, Cheer Up Mr. Widdicombe. The cast of characters face first world problems that apply specifically to the most affluent among us. If Bernie Sanders read this book, he’d be likely to say, “What the hell is wrong with these people?” The title refers to the message to paterfamilias Frank Widdicombe who is bummed that his annual excursion with buddies to France has been scuttled. Readers who are wont to use “summer” as a verb, and you know who you are, are those most likely to see themselves and friends described with pithiness in this novel. Readers who don’t summer in an exclusive setting can pick up this novel and glimpse over the walls of class privilege but might be hard pressed to appreciate the humor. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Cheer Up Mr Widdicombe from amazon.com.

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish

Domestic. Many novels that present dysfunctional family life offer insight into the complexity of our human condition. In her debut novel titled, The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish, Katya Apekina elegantly presents us with a tragic family saga. Mother Marianne goes to a psychiatric hospital following a suicide attempt. Teenage daughters Edie and Mae leave life with their mother in Louisiana and end up in New York with their father, Dennis, a novelist. Through different narrators, we see tragic lives in different ways. As in many families, different children describe their shared experience in radically different ways, as if they were raised in different places. Greek myths come alive for modern readers on these pages, whether recognized or not. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Deeper the Water from amazon.com.

The Titanic Secret

Mining. The eleventh installment in the Isaac Bell adventure series by Clive Cussler is a novel titled, The Titanic Secret. Cussler pulls protagonist Dirk Pitt from a different series to start this novel a century after the time when the main action in the novel takes place. Detective Isaac Bell investigates a Colorado mine disaster in 1911 and before long goes on a global adventure to track down the mining of a rare earth element named byzanium. As always, Bell is a terrific investigator who gets into life threatening scrapes with bad guys. Fans of formulaic character-driven fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel and this series. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase The Titanic Secret from amazon.com.

In My Mind's Eye

Endearing. Jan Morris calls her book titled, In My Mind’s Eye, “a thought diary.” Wherever those thoughts come from, they are finely written, endearing and certainly eclectic. Some of the daily diary entries are short, and others are finely developed essays. Most are quips that will cause readers to smile and become charmed by this talented author who still amazes in her nineties. Could there be something magical in the water in Wales? Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase In My Mind’s Eye from amazon.com.

The Cost of Living

Brisk. The short book by Deborah Levy titled, The Cost of Living, allows readers to sample her fine prose while eavesdropping on a few selected episodes from her life. Levy calls this “a working autobiography,” and it is a glimpse into the writer’s observations about living in our world with interesting other people. All of a writer’s life can become source material, and in this book, Levy takes us behind the curtain to spend time with her memories and observations. I finished the book wanting to meet her mother and I smiled when I finally reached the phrase that became the title of this book. Fans of literary prose are those most likely to enjoy this book. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Cost of Living from amazon.com.