Thursday, May 9, 2019

Working

Process. Along with many fans of Robert Caro’s books about Lyndon Johnson, I look forward to reading the fifth and final book whenever Caro finishes it. In the meantime, it was a real joy to read his latest book titled, Working, that assembles perspectives old and new about his writing process. The conclusions are not unexpected. Caro works very hard. He digs deeper and deeper, turning every page in research, asking more and more questions in multiple interviews. He begins to write after he feels his research is done, and that takes a while. Once he starts to write, he writes quickly, but then rewrites multiple times. He wants to be sure that a reader is brought inside the story: that the reader understands the issues and feels as if one is there with what Caro describes. Caro’s prose reads so well that he makes it seem easy. This book explains how hard it is to make prose seem that easy. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Working from amazon.com.

Blood Oath

Return. The twentieth installment in the Alexandra Cooper crime fiction series by Linda Fairstein is a novel titled, Blood Oath. I always look forward to finding out the NYC landmark that Fairstein describes for readers, and this time out it’s Rockefeller University, one of the country’s finest medical research centers. Fans of the series may recall that we left Alex away from her Assistant DA work on a leave of absence. In this installment, she’s returned to work and her first case is complex and sensitive. Meanwhile, she’s considering whether or not she wants to become the next DA. The familiar cast of recurring characters are tested anew on a case that fans are likely to love. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Blood Oath from amazon.com.

The Persian Gamble

Stakes. Fans of exciting thrillers are those readers most likely to enjoy the second novel by Joel C. Rosenberg to feature former U.S. Secret Service agent Marcus Ryker titled, The Persian Gamble. The cliffhanger from The Kremlin Conspiracy kicks off the new novel and the action never stops. Ryker, assassin Oleg Kraskin and CIA station chief Jenny Morris scramble to get out of Russia alive. Meanwhile, the North Koreans are plotting to sell nuclear weapons to Iran. What could possibly go wrong with that? The action is fast paced from beginning to end. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Persian Gamble from amazon.com.

Presidents of War

Sweeping. General readers who appreciate readable and compelling presentations of history are those most likely to enjoy Michael Beschloss’ book titled, Presidents of War. I paced myself while reading this doorstop of a book, reading lots of other things between sections. Beschloss focuses on these United States Presidents: Madison, Polk, Lincoln, McKinley, Wilson, FDR, Truman and LBJ. I found just the right balance between detail and summary. As with other fine writers of American history, Beschloss knows how to draw readers into the setting and the issues through events that are carefully chosen to support the narrative. The war powers of United States Presidents are interesting to explore, and Beschloss is an author who can lead us toward greater understanding of multiple dimensions of the many issues relating to war. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Presidents of War from amazon.com.

Redemption

Infiltration. The fifth novel by David Baldacci to feature memory man Amos Decker is titled, Redemption. While Amos is visiting the graves of his wife and daughter, he is approached by Meryl Hawkins, a very ill man recently released from prison. Hawkins claims that he was innocent of the crime, the first homicide case Decker worked on as a local police detective. After Hawkins is murdered Decker feels duty bound to revisit the old case to see if mistakes were made. Fans of crime fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy the many plot twists in this novel, and fans of the series will be rooting for Decker at every turn. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Redemption from amazon.com.

The Wall

Other. What makes people require an “other” to frame our own behavior? In his novel titled, The Wall, John Lanchester offers a future that some will consider dystopian and others anticipate as likely. Rising sea levels led an island nation to build a concrete barrier around its territory. Protagonist Joseph Kavanagh works as a defender with one mission: to ensure that the Others don’t breach his section of the wall. Lanchester is a terrific storyteller, and his creativity in this novel captivated me. This novel falls within the long tradition of imaginative fiction and the telling of stories that engage readers. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Wall from amazon.com.

The Parisian

Nablus. Fiction can help readers understand life in a time and place especially through an intense focus on one character’s life. In her debut novel titled, The Parisian, Isabella Hammad tells us about life in Nablus, Palestine in the early 20th century. Protagonist Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy merchant and attains the moniker in the title after his father sent him to study medicine in Paris in 1914. Midhat finds a different Nablus after he returns from Paris: British occupation and activists pressing for nationalism. Midhat’s life doesn’t turn out as he or others expected. Neither has Palestine. Here’s one of my favorite lines from late in the novel: p. 547: “When I look at my life,” he said, “I see a whole list of mistakes. Lovely, beautiful mistakes. I wouldn’t change them.” Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Parisian from amazon.com.