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Leave the World Behind

by Rumaan Alam. Anxiety-provoking. If you are prone to freaking out in general and especially during the pandemic, probably leave this book on the nightstand unread. That’s not to say it isn’t brilliantly well written. It is. Intriguing. Yes. Palpably gut-wrenching. Definitely. So. It just depends what state you’re in before you delve into this one. Two couples and two teens stranded by chance form an unlikely bond in a remote vacation home out on Long Island. Once you’ve read it, which I did, it’s impossible to forget it. Note:… Read more Leave the World Behind

One by One

by Ruth Ware. Yes. She churns them out. This one takes place at a boutique chalet hotel in the French Alps. Off-piste skiing adventures and lots of salopettes. Murder & mayhem. The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a better version of the genre. However, Ruth Ware’s story lines around modern technology, like the “smart house” in The Turn of the Key and the Snoop app in this one are interesting to learn about. The Snoop app lets you know who is listening to what playlist song in real time. I… Read more One by One

The Searcher

by Tana French. This is a good one. French gets Cal Hooper, an ex-cop from Chicago PD just right. He’s well drawn with a mix of appealing simplicity and complexity. He retires to the western Irish countryside to escape his particular life regrets. Cal finds this remote village microcosm has many of the same dynamics and challenges he’s left behind yet his instincts improve with time. His relationship with a 13-year old enigma named Trey is endearing and rings true. Other local characters are as rich as the peat. French’s… Read more The Searcher

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

by Fiona Davis. The lyin’ Lyons of the New York Public Library with its signature lions. Jack & Laura Lyons live in apartments deep within the landmark structure. He is the superintendent so the family lives in quarters off the mezzanine. The Library is only used for reference visits and its rare books collections are even harder to get into for research. A maze of secrets and history go from 1913 to 1993, with mysteries and tragedies surrounding thefts of its most hallowed treasures in each period. Family ties and… Read more The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Right Behind You

by Lisa Gardner. This convoluted mystery labored and twisted through ancillary characters to get back to the core of the plot. Could have and should have been 100 pages shorter. Even so. Not that intriguing. Scattered and thin. Lots of skimming. Sibling connection lacked depth. Contrived and pedantic endorsement of foster parenting without heart. Meh.  

The Less Dead

by Denise Mina. Susan, a prostitute is murdered on the Drag, a seedy backwater in Glasgow, Scotland. Her birth-daughter Margo is unwittingly dragged into the quest for her killer. Margo is a doctor (GP) and not very interesting nor smart. Characters in general had little soul with the exception of Nikki & Lizzie. They are colorful and well-drawn. Otherwise this mystery is a yawn. Mina’s The Long Drop had a richness of period and local Scottish scenes that this lacks.

Summer Recap

July – September 2020 South Fork, New York Stress relieved by reading mostly light non-literary beach books in a serene waterfront setting. So fortunate to be able to escape.           Best to least: The Glass Hotel,  St. John Mandel Notes On a Silencing,  Crawford This Tender Land,  Kent Krueger Redhead by the Side of the Road,  Tyler The Guest List,  Foley The Turn of the Key,  Ware The Less Dead,   Mina 28 Summers,  Hildebrand The Summer House,  Patterson & du Bois The Summer House,  McKinnon The… Read more Summer Recap

This Tender Land

by William Kent Krueger. Compared by many to Where the Crawdads Sing, Krueger is not quite Owens. This picaresque saga does have elements of Twain and Davies. A poignant journey of four vagabond orphans during the Depression. It captures the horrors of their lives at a Minnesota boarding school for destitute Indian children where the Superintendent known as The Black Witch makes the Witch of the West seem tame. As with rogue-tales, the children encounter a variety of characters during their adventures and setbacks along the Gilead River and beyond.… Read more This Tender Land