Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

The residents of Nantucket are stunned when teenager Penny Alistair crashes her boyfriend Jake's jeep, killing herself and putting her twin brother, Hobby, in a coma. The other two passengers in the car, Jake and Demeter, wearing seat belts, are able to walk away from the accident. What made Penny commit such an impulsive, destructive act? The survivors blame themselves. Zoe, the twins' mother, is devastated. Having raised Penny and Hobby on her own after their father passed away before they were born, she wonders if her leniency towards them is somewhat responsible. She also mourns her affair with Jake's dad, Jordan. Jordan (who still misses Zoe) and his wife, Ava, have moved to Ava's home country of Australia for a year after the accident in order to give Jake a new beginning--their marriage is hanging by a thread after of the death of their newborn son, Ernie, a few years ago. Summerland, told through the eyes of the parents and the children, has all the hallmarks of classic Hilderbrand: immediacy of well-developed characters that you care about, descriptions of island life, and a story that pulls at your heartstrings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On the day of Amy and Nick's fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne disappears from their home. Nick calls the police, insisting he had nothing to do with her going missing--but he hasn't been entirely honest with the authorities. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that he also has a disposable phone that he refuses to answer. Entries from Amy's diary for the past six years (recounting her relationship with Nick) are interspersed with Nick's account of the aftermath of Amy's vanishing. The reader learns that their marriage was under some strain after they both lost their jobs and moved from New York City to Nick's small hometown in Missouri. At first, it's obvious that we don't know what was really going on in their marriage, but slowly the reader is privy to their innermost thoughts--be prepared to descend into all the ugliness that the uniting of two people can sometimes bring. Gone Girl, while leisurely-paced in the beginning, is not a novel that one will soon forget.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Eleven-year-old Julia lives with her parents in southern California when the event occurs that everyone calls “the Slowing.” The earth begins to rotate more slowly, which means that days last longer and the night/day cycle no longer matches clock time. Julia's world is affected immediately when her best friend, Hanna, a Mormon, moves to Utah with her family. With no close friends, she spends her time thinking about her skateboarding neighbor, Seth Moreno. Her parents also try to maintain some sense of normalcy despite the growing uncertainty of what's going to happen. They decide to follow the government's suggestion to follow “clock time” (based on the 24-hour clock) rather than “real time” that now has days lasting more than forty hours. But when animals start dying and tensions erupt between the clock time and real time people, it becomes harder and harder to believe that the situation can ever improve. By setting a traditional tween's growing pains against the backdrop of a global disaster, The Age of Miracles is a very different and compelling coming-of-age novel.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

Painters Mill police chief Kate Burkholder is asked to consult with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) on a series of disappearances of Amish teenage girls. The girls had all been rebelling against their strict Amish upbringing during Rumspringa by smoking, drinking, and becoming involved with the opposite sex. Kate grew up Amish, and when a relative of her sister's family goes missing, the case takes a personal turn. Kate knew Sadie (who reminds Kate of herself at that age) and is fearful about her possible fate. With Kate's lover John Tomasetti of BCI working with her, she hopes she'll be able to bring the girls home alive and apprehend the culprit.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bad Little Falls by Paul Doiron

Game warden Mike Bowditch has been transferred to isolated coastal Maine after not following his superior's orders on a previous case. Mike is alone after breaking up with his girlfriend Sarah and hasn't seen his friends Charley and Ora lately either. He feels even more out of his element when someone starts playing pranks on him--like letting a skunk loose in his trailer. When Mike goes to dinner at Doc Larrabee's, he's recruited to help out at Doc's neighbor's, where a man has become lost in a blizzard. With this act, Mike encounters violence, an attraction to a woman who might be bad news, and his own desire for the truth--which probably outweighs everything else. Bad Little Falls is the third book in the Mike Bowditch series. For readers who enjoy Steve Hamilton and William Kent Krueger. It will be published in August.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Caller by Karin Fossum

In this latest mystery by Karin Fossum, a series of pranks have the residents around and near Bjerkas unsettled. Baby Margrete is found outside in her stroller covered in blood, yet unhurt.  Gunilla Mork has just celebrated her 70th birthday and is stunned to read her obituary in the local newspaper.  Then someone dyes one of a farmer's sheep orange.  The reader knows the culprit is Johnny Beskow, whose only stable relationship is with his home-bound grandfather.  Will police detectives Sejer and Skarre be able to apprehend Johnny before a more serious crime occurs? The Caller is one of the best books in the Inspector Sejer series because it successfully explores interpersonal relationships against a backdrop of foreboding danger.  It will be published in August.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft

Police Inspector Malin Fors is thirty-three and lives with her teenage daughter, Tove, in Linkoping. She and her partner Zeke Martinsson are called out to a gruesome murder scene, where a naked overweight man is hanging from a tree. The victim is revealed to be a man named Bengt Andersson, a loner who was teased by local teenagers and ignored by pretty much everyone else. Malin delves into Bengt's life and finds a traumatic childhood and a connection to a more recent crime. While trying to uncover the truth in the investigation, Malin must also deal with her daughter's raging hormones, a purely physical relationship with a local reporter, and yearnings for her ex-husband, Janne. Midwinter Blood is the first book in the Malin Fors series and would appeal to people who like Helene Tursten and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Reckoning by Jane Casey

DC Maeve Kerrigan isn't thrilled with the addition to the team, DI Josh Derwent. She finds him aggressive and hard to read. Soon, however, they're working together on the murders of three convicted pedophiles. When Maeve rescues a fourth victim, the investigation leads them to a suspect that the police know very well and a missing teenager, taking the case in a completely different direction. In The Reckoning, Maeve works hard to prove that she's just as capable as the men on her team and in the end her gender is her biggest asset. This second book in the Maeve Kerrigan series is similar to the mysteries of Barry Maitland and Elena Forbes.