Saturday, December 18, 2021
Guide. A cataclysm has happened before the start of Joy Williams novel titled, Harrow, and our guide to what comes next is a teenaged protagonist named Khristen. It’s been two decades since readers have seen a novel from Williams, and there’s experimentation and freshness in this work that will reward her patient fans. Khristen arrives at a lakeside resort and finds the lake has turned black and the area populated with a cast of strange people who had been eco-warriors. I delighted at every word I had to look up as I read this novel, and found my eyes opened to the natural world and decay in new ways. Williams drags us to notice dying and demands us to pay attention and do something. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Harrow from amazon.com.
Community. The suburbia setting in Bethany Ball’s novel titled, The Pessimists, bears little surface resemblance to the world that John Updike mined so often. On closer examination, we do find the banality, white privilege, and moral decline that Updike dissected. Readers with experience of certain expensive private schools will love Ball’s creation of Petra School. The cast of characters present themselves on one level to their community, but beneath that presentation there is something far more interesting. Ball cultivates this landscape with great wit and skill, and fans of fine writing will find a lot to enjoy in this novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Pessimists from amazon.com.
Race. The backdrop for the nineteenth novel to feature Bath detective Peter Diamond, a book titled, The Finisher, is a half marathon race. What Diamond sees among the finishers of the race puts him on full alert. What follows is an entertaining crime novel, in which Lovesey offers twists on multiple finishers as the story unfolds. Fans of this series are those readers most likely to appreciate the return to a familiar character and setting. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Finisher from amazon.com.
Green. As a proud son of Brooklyn, I confess that I had never heard of Andrew Haswell Green, the man responsible for the consolidation of Manhattan and Brooklyn, until I read Jonathan Lee’s engaging novel titled, The Great Mistake. Fans of historical fiction can escape our current era and head to New York in the nineteenth and twenty centuries. Green is a complex and fascinating character at the center of great transformations for New York City. The scenes in this novel are vivid, the story entertaining and enlightening, and the characters memorable. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Great Mistake from amazon.com.
Mothering. There’s pain on every page of Claudia Piñeiro’s novel titled, Elena Knows. Protagonist Elena will not accept that her daughter, Rita, committed suicide. Despite the pain of Parkinson’s, Elena traverses Buenos Aires to solve the mystery of her daughter’s death. We join Elena on this journey as Piñeiro explores the topic of the control of women’s bodies and the relationship between mothers and daughters. Piñeiro leads readers to view the world as it is and to show us who we are whether we want to accept that or not. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Elena Knows from amazon.com.
Adversaries. The twenty-sixth installment in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series is a novel titled, Better Off Dead, co-written with his brother, Andrew Child. The action opens with Reacher walking west in the Arizona desert minding his own business. What follows is his enlistment in the search for a missing person, and his pitting his skills against a very worthy adversary. Fans of the series will enjoy all the ways that Reacher plays the angles, wipes out obstacles, and improvises the best way to prevail. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Better Off Dead from amazon.com.
Manipulation. Plot twists and thrilling action propel Clare Mackintosh’s psychological novel titled, Hostage. Flight attendant Mina Holbrook has volunteered to work on the inaugural flight of nonstop service from London to Sydney, a twenty-hour journey. Mina left unresolved family issues on the ground. It’s what’s in the air that becomes fascinating, a group of terrorists who have been manipulated by someone with a dastardly plan. Book club leaders would ask around the circle what each reader might have done in Mina’s place. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Hostage from amazon.com.