Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward

Nadine Morgan has travelled as a journalist to some of the world's most dangerous places. When she is injured in Mexico on assignment, she comes home to Nantucket where she grew up. The attack has shaken some of her confidence, but when she reads that an American couple, the Irvings, are going to South Africa for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing for their son's killer it dredges up the memories she has of being a reporter in South Africa ten years ago during apartheid. She realizes that she must go back to South Africa and report on this story. Going against her doctor's advice, she arrives there determined to have the Irvings tell their story. Instead, she is immersed in her past and this leads her to help make some decisions about her future. I really love the way that Ward presents the story and she is one of my favorite writers. Her books are a bit like Anne Tyler, although Ward's three novels deal with serious topics (apartheid, prison, and a child kidnapping) along with domestic issues. It also reminded me of Black and White by Dani Shapiro.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Silence by Thomas Perry

Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear because she felt her life was in danger. Now Wendy's former boyfriend and business partner Eric Fuller has been arrested for her murder. Till realizes that he must find Wendy so an innocent man doesn't go to prison. Finding Wendy takes some investigation on his part, since Till helped Wendy hide very well. Unfortunately, married killers-for-hire Paul and Sylvie Turner are also on Wendy's trail. It's a fast-paced race to get Wendy back to Los Angeles before she is murdered. Thomas Perry writes another page turner similar to the book he published last year, Nightlife. Lately, Perry hasn't been as prolific as Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, or Michael Connelly, but these two most recent works are like their stand-alone novels.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie agrees to do a a favor for Ranger by planting a bug on her ex-husband, Dickie Orr. Soon Dickie has disappeared and Stephanie is the prime suspect in the case. In order to clear her name, Stephanie investigates Dickie's life and his shady law partners, who have questionable clients and are probably involved in drug running. Stephanie is also trying to keep her finances afloat as a bounty hunter by bringing in a grave robber and a taxidermist who makes stuffed animal bombs. Evanovich has written another mystery filled with humor and quirky characters. Regular fans of the series will find the book enjoyable, but not a step forward in the Morelli vs. Ranger storyline.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center

Jenny Harris is nine months pregnant when her fiance, Dean, leaves her. Luckily, she has a good support system to help out after her baby's born--her "very Texas" mom, TV-star doctor dad, the women in her new mom's group and a handsome neighbor named Gardner. Still, life is not easy with a newborn. When Dean returns will she get back together with him or choose Gardner instead? The Bright Side of Disaster is a light novel with touches of humor. It offers a realistic view of what being a new mom is like and is a pleasant diversion.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill

DCI Simon Serrailler returns in the third book of this fabulous police procedural series. The case that occupied a majority of Serrailler's time in The Pure in Heart, the disappearance of youngster David Angus, continues when Serrailler is called to Yorkshire where they've also had a missing child. Are the cases connected? The mystery also involves a husband sick with grief over his ill wife and a newly-ordained female priest who has a distressing personal crisis. As in the two previous books, there are lots of details about Serrailler's sister, Dr. Cat Deerbon, and her family. The combination of character depth and Hill's writing style makes this series first-rate. I blogged about the first book, The Various Haunts of Men last month when it was published in the U.S. Unfortunately, it will be awhile before the others are released. I requested books two and three through interlibrary loan at my local library because I couldn't wait. It also helps if you read the books in order.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

When teenager Catherine Ross is found strangled to death suspicion falls on Magnus Tait, a loner who was investigated in the disappearance of a young girl eight years ago. Shetland Islands police detective Jimmy Perez, despite no evidence to the contrary, believes that Tait is innocent. With help from the mainland police, Perez delves into Catherine's life. Raven Black contains lots of details about the isolation and traditions of the Shetland Islands. The mystery is similar to other british police procedurals, but is not as complex as P.D. James, Deborah Crombie, or Ruth Rendell.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Summer of Southern Discomfort by Stephanie Gayle

Natalie Goldberg is like a fish out of water in her new home of Macon, Georgia. The daughter of a famous civil rights lawyer in Boston, Natalie moves south after both her career at a New York law firm and her affair with one of the partners goes bad. It was, perhaps, impulsive to leave family and friends to work in the district attorney's office and Natalie finds herself settling in very slowly. She is then appointed co-counsel in a high profile murder case. Working for the prosecution is emotional for Natalie, since she opposes the death penalty. During the trial and over the summer, Natalie learns to put her past behind her, settle in, and make some decisions about her future.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Keeping the House by Ellen Baker

It is 1896 and Wilma is a new bride who has moved to the small Wisconsin town of Pine Rapids. Wilma met John Mickelson in college and left school early to marry him. The book follows their family for the next fifty-five years. Interwoven with the story of the Mickelson brood is that of Dolly Magnuson who also comes to Pine Rapids as a newlywed in 1950. She becomes obsessed with the grand Mickelson home on the hill and the story of the family who abandoned it. Keeping the House is a saga set against the backdrop of both world wars and shows how both women find out that married life takes some adjustment.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Price of Silence by Camilla Trinchieri

Emma Perotti is an ESL teacher at Columbia University. Her marriage is suffering, even years after she accidentally ran over her young daughter with her car. When she meets a young female student, An-ling, she feels an immediate kinship that her husband Tom cannot understand. Emma finds herself mothering An-ling, then she leaves Tom and her teenage son, Josh, to move in with her. As we learn at the beginning of the novel, Emma is on trial for An-ling's murder. The book interperses chapters about the women's friendship with the ongoing trial. Did Emma kill An-ling or was it someone else?

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch returns in this shorter novel, expanded from a serial Connelly wrote for the New York Times. In The Overlook, Bosch is investigating the murder of Dr. Stanley Kent, a physicist. FBI agents, including Bosch's old lover Rachel Walling, are more concerned with thirty-two tubes of cesium that Kent had that are now missing--probably in the hands of terrorists. The feds want Bosch to butt out because they feel their case is more important. But as any regular reader of the Bosch novels knows, Harry is tenacious. He finds ways to circumvent the FBI and find the killer. Fans will like this book, although it is much shorter than his previous work. Unfortunately, I had read most of the serial in the Times last fall (because I had no idea it was to become a novel) and even though the publisher says "this edition is expanded and revised substantially," I did not find much new.

The Exception by Christian Jungersen

Iben, Malene, Anne-Lise, and Camilla all work for the Danish Center for Information on Genocide (DCIG) in Copenhagen. It's a small organization, with only one other employee, the director, Paul. When Iben and Malene, who are best friends, receive e-mail death threats, the office relationships become tense. Iben and Malene believe that Serbian war criminal Mirko Zigic is responsible. But soon, the women suspect each other. By interspersing accounts of genocide among the points of view of three of the co-workers, Jungersen creates a novel where the reader isn't sure who is telling the truth. When there is a death of someone close to the women, things get even more unhinged. Who will be unmasked as the culprit? The Exception is very similar to the recent mysteries of Minette Walters.