Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Gambling Man

Fortune. The second novel by David Baldacci featuring Aloysius Archer is titled, A Gambling Man. After the first episode left Archer in peril, he heads West in hopes of become an apprentice to a private detective in Bay Town, California. A stop in Reno brought him good luck, a large bundle of cash, a rare 1939 Delahaye convertible, and the companionship of Liberty Callahan, a talented actress who wants to make it big in Hollywood. Action in Bay Town is stimulating and perilous, and Archer and Liberty make a great team. Readers need not have read the debut in this series to enjoy this installment, but one’s understanding of Archer’s character is enhanced if one reads from the beginning. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase A Gambling Man from amazon.com.

Citizen Reporters: S.S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine That Rewrote America

McClure’s. Stephanie Gorton’s book titled, Citizen Reporters: S.S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine that Rewrote America, balances a narrative about a distinctive era with a handful of characters whose influence has endured for at least a century. Gorton describes the rise and fall of McClure’s, a popular magazine in the early 20th century that launched investigative journalism. We get to know S.S. McClure, his best journalist, Ida Tarbell, along with writers Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens, who together established a foothold for investigate journalism in American democracy. Readers who love this period in American history will find a lot to enjoy in this engaging book. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Citizen Reporters from amazon.com.

Infinite Country

Identity. Readers will marvel at how much ground Patricia Engel covers over the course of two hundred pages in her novel titled, Infinite Country. We find a family with identity rooted in both Columbia and the United States. We observe separations and unifications. We picture the people and places with clarity thanks to Engel’s descriptive prose. We live alongside five family members as we read this novel, and we feel deeply for each of them, and note an increased intensity as a deadline approaches rapidly. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Infinite Country from amazon.com.

When the Stars Go Dark

Suspense. Novelist Paula McLain has turned to suspense for her book titled, When the Stars Go Dark. Protagonist Anna Hart works as a missing persons detective. Following tragedy in her personal life, she leaves San Francisco for Mendocino, where she had lived as a child with foster parents. Instead of finding refuge, she learns that a local teenager has gone missing, and Anna becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. Thanks to McLain’s expert storytelling, the backstory weaves into the suspense of the current case, and readers are rewarded with the development of Anna as a complex and interesting character. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase When the Stars Go Dark from amazon.com.

The Prophets

Representation. Thanks to the finely written novel by Robert Jones, Jr., titled, The Prophets, young gay Black men can see themselves represented as enslaved people on a Southern plantation. Jones offers two memorable protagonists, Isaiah and Samuel. He describes the intimacy of their relationship and how even that precious thing is subject to the whims and oppression of slave masters. What Jones does so well in this novel is lay out the story of love in a context of evil and hate, and how the human spirit thrives in love. He describes pain and suffering, while conveying what’s beautiful, where truth lies, and the hope that becomes real in love. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Prophets from amazon.com.

Greenlights

Learning. Having arrived at age 50, Matthew McConaughey decided to take stock of his life up to that milestone, and offers his reflections in a book titled, Greenlights. The sentiment of the book is to share what he’s learned about life. He lays out joy, sorrow, success, failure, luck and how to catch the right wave, or in his case, the green lights, instead of the yellow and red lights (which he says eventually turn green). His voice in this book has that aw shucks quality, and the tone is upbeat, offering a celebration of life. He tells great stories in this book and encourages all of us to find the way forward in life, wherever that takes us. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Greenlights from amazon.com.

Good Neighbors

Sinkhole. Toxic muck runs beneath bucolic Maple Street in a suburban Long Island town. In her novel titled, Good Neighbors, Sara Langan takes us beyond appearances and into a dark reality of life in many neighborhoods, especially when some people don’t fit in. The Maple Street enclave felt their first level of discomfort after the Wilde family moved in from the city. They don’t look right, they don’t act right, and they are just not the right people for Maple Street. After a sinkhole opens in a park near Maple Street, a young girl falls in. As the search to find her progresses, the Wildes become the focus of accusations. If, like me, seclusion during the spread of COVID-19 made you look at neighbors a little differently, say as potential vectors of disease, a novel like this one will lead you to all the bad places that such sentiments can encourage visiting. We don’t want to be like the neighbors on Maple Street, but there are times when we will act just like them. That’s a sinkhole to be avoided. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Good Neighbors from amazon.com.