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Death on the Beach

by Anna Johannsen. Translated from the German by Jozef van der Voort. The second of Johannsen’s Island Mystery series set in her homeland of the Frisian Islands. Hadn’t read the first, but this is a stand-alone except for any personal backstory about Lena Lorenzen, the main character and detective. A fairly standard murder mystery formula. A cultive Christian sect is at the center of the story. Its community is ostracized by locals and they are seen as suspect even under normal circumstances. When one of its teen girls is found… Read more Death on the Beach

The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware. An intriguing way to tell a mystery. From an innocent prisoner’s letter to an advocate before she goes to trial for murder. She begs him to believe her story. That she did not kill the little girl in her care. Every detail of the young woman’s time as a nanny at an isolated mansion in Scotland is included in the letter to Mr. Wrexham. She’s desperate for him to read it and to take her case. The mansion is a ‘smart home’ with annoyingly intricate technology that… Read more The Turn of the Key

All Adults Here

by Emma Straub. A contrivance of topical LGBTQ themes with overarching misandry. Set in an Upstate New York town where everyone knows everyone for generations. Widowed matriarch Astrid owns the town’s Big House. A stately relic. Her three children come with a myriad of issues, none particularly interesting. Astrid stuns them when she finds love with her hairdresser who eventually becomes her wife. Never got any sense of their chemistry. Astrid’s son Nicky & French wife live in Brooklyn. Their daughter Cecelia gets caught up in rescuing her middle school… Read more All Adults Here

Redhead by the Side of the Road

by Anne Tyler. Michah Mortimer. Socially clueless techie, self-proclaimed hermit. With OCD. A cliché. From a messy, funny, chaotic family, he tries to arrange his life in a neater way. Seeking perfection? It takes an unexpected guest to break him from his humdrum. Haven’t read other Tyler works. In this one, she makes everyday people come to life. A short sweet slice.

The Glass Hotel

by Emily St. John Mandel. A wide-ranging circular story with little to serve as a cohesive adhesive. Dense and beautiful in its style and prose, metaphorically rich. Yet. Lacking a certain heart or soul. Told from the perspective of several narrators. Vincent, a young girl and her unlikeable uninteresting addict half-brother Paul. They merge with other characters in a remote glass hotel on an isolated island off the coast of Vancouver. Both become enmeshed in a ripped-from-the headlines financial scheme, as they grow into quirky adults. Other eccentric characters bob… Read more The Glass Hotel

As An Aside

Ben Dolnick muses about his writing style in today’s New York Times. He often and purposefully uses parentheses and likens them now to the time we are in. Hope we get that coin and surface soon. A clause set off by em dashes is like dropping underwater while swimming breaststroke — just a quick dip before popping back to the sentence’s surface. A parenthetical clause is more like diving down to the pool bottom to pick up a coin. And a footnote is a full-blown scuba dive — you have… Read more As An Aside

The Summer House

by Hannah McKinnon. A fun beach read set around Westerly, Watch Hill & Weekapaug in Rhode Island. Vacation communities of old money and generations of family summers. Appealing characters and enough drama to keep it going for a light-hearted romp.

Letter From a Region In My Mind

by James Baldwin, 1962. Excerpted from a longer essay in the latest edition of The New Yorker. Baldwin describes inner struggles with his race, religion, sexuality, and academic prowess as a young boy and man, growing up in Harlem. He describes how alienated he felt from his neighbors, finding their lifestyles scary yet seductive. From pimps to preachers, the streets were always tempting his fate. He finds temporary refuge as a young minister in a local church. But, he sees the leaders of these houses of worship as hypocritical as… Read more Letter From a Region In My Mind