Back to the beach…

husband…and related ports of call. In “The Husband Hour” by Jamie Brenner, a widow’s reclusive life in a beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor.  “That Month in Tuscany” by Inglath Cooper pairs a girl on the rebound with a rock star harboring a secret. In “The Family Gathering” by Robyn Carr, an Army vet Dakota Jones returns to Colorado to sort out his life (code for ‘find a girlfriend).  And in “Lilac Lane” by Sherryl Woods, a single mom goes back home.

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The Usual Suspects

detectivesIn “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris, a man begins to suspect that his missing girlfriend may be alive. “This dark and twisted thriller will keep you on your toes” (Buzzfeed).  In “The Crooked Staircase” by Dean Koontz, Jane Hawk continues to battle the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed her husband. “(“The Silent Corner).  In “The Gray Ghost” by Clive Cussler, The Fargo’s search for a missing Rolls-Royce prototype.  In “The Lady Vanishes” by Amanda Quick, a woman escapes from kidnappers who are testing an experimental hallucinogenic.  In “The Bags of Tricks Affair” by Bill Pronzini, a grifter seeks justice after having been grifted! 

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Re-imagining The Bard

shylock “Shylock is My Name” by Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question), does a contemporary take on William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  It is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, which seeks to generate interest in the Bard’s plays by casting them in a contemporary light.  Tracy Chevalier’s “The New Boy” (Othello) is a prep sports star who will never be fully accepted by his classmates; Ann Tyler’s “Vinegar Girl” (Taming of the Shrew) refuses to be a passport bride, and Jo Nesbo’s “Macbeth” (Macbeth) is a rising mob boss.  The complete series is listed ehere. “Fools and Mortals” by Bernard Cornwell presents Shakespeare from the point of view of his far more respectable brother

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Crime in a dangerous time

berlin2 crime stories by Volker Kutscher evoke Berlin on the eve of the Nazi ascent.  In “Babylon Berlin”, police discover a body with no identity who had clearly been tortured.  Investigator Gereon Rath discovers a connection with a circle of exiled Russian communists who are smuggling gold out of their homeland to purchase arms. But there are other people trying to get hold of the gold and the guns.  In “The Silent Death”, Roth investigates a suspicious death on a movie set.   These are “excellent police procedurals that cleverly captures the dark and dangerous period of the Weimar Republic before it slides into Nazism” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Summer sleepers

shoutIn “A Shout in the Ruins” by Kevin Powers, the traumatic impact of the Civil War is followed across the generations of 2 families from the same plantation, one white and one black.  “Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown evokes a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets set in North Carolina. In “The Romantics” by Pankaj Mishra, an Indian student is caught between the tug of his culture and the allure of the West. “Circe” by Madeline Miller depicts the mythic witch who famously turned Ulysses men into wild pigs.

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Back to the Beach

bhrBeach House Reunion” by Mary Alice Monroe dusts off the venerable ‘cant-go-home-again’ theme, with nieces and grannies and babies on hand to raise sand on the Isle of Palms.  A wildlife sanctuary subplot offers some diversity.  “The High Tide Club” by Mary Kay Andrews tweaks the summer reunion plot by reuniting a gang of retirees.  Their age insures many years of accumulated secrets and resentments to iron out!  Meanwhile, wedding bell blues are ringing in “By Invitation Only” (Dorthea Benton Frank) and “A Nantucket Wedding” (Nancy Thayer), thanks to in-law problems and second thoughts on the impending nuptials.

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Ordinary heroes

PARISHeroism on a more mundane level is on hand in Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris”. Two off-duty servicemen and a college student board a train to Paris which it is high-jacked by a terrorist.    Eastwood ‘shoots with documentary-style immediacy’ as he tells this tale of ordinary courage.   In “The Commuter”, Liam Nesson plays an insurance salesman whose train ride home becomes a race against the clock.

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