Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Madness of Crowds

Correlations. The ways in which groups can become so caught up in misinformation and delusions rose to a crescendo in many places as the coronavirus spread. In the seventeenth novel by Louise Penny to feature Chief Inspector Gamache titled, The Madness of Crowds, spurious correlations by a statistician rile up a crowd and infect a community. When murder in Three Pines follows, Gamache and his team need to solve a case that is too close to home. On top of all the usual fine writing in this series, Penny adds a heavy moral question for society that makes the novel all the more engaging. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Madness of Crowds from amazon.com.

The Coldest Case

Change. Life in the PĂ©rigord can seem settled in keeping things the same until everything changes at once. In the sixteenth installment of the Bruno Chief of Police series by Martin Walker, a novel titled, The Coldest Case, Bruno’s life overflows with all that needs be done. When he sees how technology has evolved in reconstructing facial features from ancient skulls, he wonders if it could be used on a skull from a three decades-old unsolved case. Meanwhile, his dog has sired puppies for the first time, and a scientist doesn’t eat meat, so Bruno prepares a vegan feast for her and his friends. Climate change impacts the region, and after the fire threat becomes dire, Bruno and others have to use all their wits to protect the community and its treasures. As always, the writing in this series is finely done, the stories and characters are engaging, and the eating and drinking will give readers an appetite for a special meal of one’s own. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Coldest Case from amazon.com.

The Comfort Book

Hope. During the darkest periods of life, it can be difficult to find hope. Matt Haig understands depression and darkness from his own life experience, and he offers a quirky book of fragments titled, The Comfort Book, as a form of inspiration to others that life will get better. Readers may connect with some nuggets, roll eyes at some aphorisms, reject parts as irrelevant, and find comfort and hope from unexpected places. Reading this book is like getting a big hug. Who can’t use an extra hug? Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Comfort Book from amazon.com.

Clark and Division

Investigation. Naomi Hirahara’s novel titled, Clark and Division, pulls readers into an investigation into a death in Chicago in 1944 that introduced me to things most readers probably don’t know about Chicago during World War II. Inspired by historical events, Hirahara tells us about the lives of Japanese Americans who went from productive lives to internment to resettlement far away from their former homes. Protagonist Aki Ito and her parents arrive in Chicago to join Aki’s sister Rose who arrived before them. Just before their arrival, Rose was killed by a subway train. Twenty-year-old Aki wants to find out the truth about Rose’s death which was ruled suicide. Fans of mysteries will love the investigation. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy learning about the lives of Japanese Americans in Chicago in 1944. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Clark and Division from amazon.com.

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu

Blind. Tom Lin’s debut novel titled, The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, is like no American Western you’ve ever read. The novel is set alongside the tracks of the Central Pacific Railroad during its construction, and protagonist Ming Tsu has embarked on a journey to settle scores. Lin draws a landscape we thought we knew with descriptive and vivid language that makes it seem new and fresh. We learn how Ming has been wronged and watch him as he is led by a blind prophet through the desolate West. I found myself becoming hungry and thirsty as Ming runs short of food and water. I felt satisfied when Ming carried out frontier justice. I marveled about how Lin helped me see revenge as a path toward love, the driving force behind Ming’s journey. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu from amazon.com.

Billy Summers

Redemption. Stephen King respects readers enough to allow us to read his work on as many levels as we choose. For those looking to read a gripping story, the novel titled, Billy Summers, delivers an engaging and entertaining story. For those who enjoy complex characters who grapple with issues of right and wrong, protagonist Billy Summers reveals our own human behavior with clarity: most of us try to do the right thing; we sometimes do things we know are wrong; and we try to find ways to do things we know are wrong for what we consider the right reasons. Billy is a talented sniper, and he accepts assignments to shoot people who have done bad things. The novel presents what he considers his last job. In the course of this novel, he finds himself able to pursue a journey toward redemption, and by the time we reach that part of the story, we are cheering for Billy no matter what he does. King knows how to get our attention, how to keep it, and how to throw a curve that surprises and satisfies. I loved every minute spent with Billy Summers. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Billy Summers from amazon.com.

Talk to Me

Sam. The center of attention in T.C. Boyle’s novel titled, Talk to Me, is a young chimp named Sam who appears on the book jacket. Guy Schermerhorn is a college professor devoted to a project in which he is raising Sam in a human household, teaching Sam to converse with human housemates using sign language. After undergraduate Aimee Villard moves in, Boyle has the backdrop for exploring all the ethical and philosophical issues to explore about interspecies interaction, which he does with great skill. I found this novel develops the notion of what it means to be human in ways that should engage readers, and helps us appreciate and understand the power of language. We also have to face what we are willing to do for love, in whatever form we find it. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Talk to Me from amazon.com.