Paula Hawkins is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of The Girl on the Train, so the pressure is on to deliver a great read this time, and I think she's done it.
The river in town creates a pool with steep cliff sides where many women over the years have met their deaths. At first it was women suspected of witchcraft. More recently the deaths have been ruled suicides. But Nel Abbott knows differently. She knows that these women were all troublesome women - women who were blamed for tempting men and thus responsible for the ways men were forced to act. And Nel was documenting the histories in a book. A book many in town had reason to hope never saw the light of day.
But then Nel herself seems to have jumped, leaving behind her 15 year old daughter Lena who was already grieving over the loss of her best friend. Nel's estranged sister Jules has to come forward to take care of Lena, and she has her own reasons to never want to return home.
This is a novel of the petty jealousies and human frailties that combine in tragic ways. Hawkins has a keen eye for the psychology that makes us human - and a deft touch at exploiting that for a creepy good read.
I read The Sellout because it was a buzz book - one everybody was talking about - it won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was a New York Times "One of the 10 Best", and it was about to hit the New York Times bestseller list in paperback.
It's social satire about race relations by African American author Paul Beatty. Beatty has written a book that's poking fun at his own race and it's place in America's screwed up social system.
The narrator is a black farmer living in an LA hood so dangerous it has lost its designation as its own town. Furious and wanting to get his neighborhood's identity back, even if it's as a racially segregated gang war zone, our hero paints the perimeter of the whole town on the ground and puts up posters for a new, all-white school. Weirdly, it kind of works. Civic pride is being restored. Now if only he can win his Supreme Court case and not be imprisoned for owning his neighbor, who insists he's a slave...
This novel is profane and outrageous, but a serious nudge to think about the state of our states all the same. Is Paul Beatty a genius? Read The Sellout for yourself and tell me what you think.
Abbakee Ahlberg, a sleepwalker, goes missing from her Vermont home and her children fear the worst. After all, Lianne already rescued her mom from jumping off of a bridge in her sleep.
Lianne and Paige, plus their father and the whole small community, comb the area for traces of the missing woman.
Then Lianne hears that Gavin - a state police detective on the case - actually knew her mother from a sleep study - and had his own theories about her disappearance.
Even as Lianne is drawn to Gavin, she's also wary of the relationship she fears he had with her mother.
The Sleepwalker is part mystery, part psychological investigation of our unconscious selves, part a story of family relationships and love and loss.
Chris Bohjalian is a master storyteller and The Sleepwalker is a fantastic read.
This twisty novel is the British author's debut thriller and her first U.S. publication, but I think My Husband's Wife is compelling enough that it won't be her last of either.
Lily is a young solicitor, married to Ed, who works in advertising but really just wants to paint. Their marriage was rushed - an escape from the past for each of them - and it has a lot of fault lines.
Lily takes on an appeal case for an accused murderer and is strangely drawn to him. As Lily works more and longer hours, Ed begins drawing their neighbor child, Carla. But Carla and her mother have secrets of their own, which eventually come back to haunt Lily and Ed's fragile marriage.
The reader knows all along that all of the characters are lying and keeping secrets, but it's not until the very end that the last betrayal clicks into place.
This one is twisty and a compulsive read for lovers of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and the like.
Young Meridian Wallace was smart and driven, but it was the 1940s and her options were limited. She was enrolled at the University of Chicago and determined to go on to get her PhD in ornithology, but she fell in love with a brilliant professor and life took her to Los Alamos where he would work on a mysterious wartime project, instead.
At first, their marriage was an untraditional, intellectual partnership, but over time Meridian found she'd become an almost stereotypical housewife.
This is a novel about knowing yourself, finding the courage to be true to what you know, and accommodating the circumstances which demand what you shall be.
This strong debt lingers long after the last page is turned, leaving the reader to examine his or her own path and life-altering decisions.
Lori Roy won the prestigious Edgar Award for best debut and now has several novels out, so I thought I'd give that first one a try.
It's 1967 and the Scott family is fleeing a changing Detroit and heads back to Arthur's hometown in Kansas - a place he hasn't been and rarely spoken of since he left. Celia, his wife, isn't too sure about rural life, and the reception she gets from Arthur's mother is a cool one. Her children try to find ways to fit in but are teased about the unspoken mystery of their father's past.
Very atmospheric, Bent Road reminded me of a Jane Smiley prairie novel - mysterious, sad, but oddly compelling. Lori Roy has a definite gift with words and the pages turn seamlessly as you find yourself immersed in the story.
Teo Avilar is a medical student whose best - and only - friend is the cadaver he is dissecting in anatomy.
But then he meets Clarice. Teo is obsessed, and soon he's decided that she will reciprocate his love only if she can't get away from him - ever.
This book, by bestselling Brazilian lawyer and author Raphael Montes, is by turns dark, disturbing, comical and deeply, deeply wrong.
Hearing the story from Teo's point of view is like a journey through a weird, weird looking glass.
If you like psychological thrillers, you must give Perfect Days a read!
Mississippi Blood is the final book in Iles’ trilogy which began in the turbulent ‘60s in the racially unsettled state of Mississippi. The trilogy follows the story of Penn Cage’s father, Tom, a locally revered doctor who is known for his compassion to the black community.
It follows the trajectory of the Double Eagles, a violent, virulently racist spin off of the Ku Klux Klan that believed the Klan’s ways were too passive. This lawless group was responsible for countless murders, possibly including the assassination of JFK, and the FBI has been trying for decades to penetrate the group and bring them to justice.
Sometime along the way Penn’s father, Dr. Cage, crossed paths with the Double Eagles, and now the sins of the father are being visited on the son - and everyone else in their lives.
In Mississippi Blood, Dr. Cage stands accused of murdering his black former nurse - Viola Turner - and he doesn’t seem to be putting up much of a defense.
I devoured this 800-page whopper in just a few sittings. If you read Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree, you are already up to speed and ready to jump right in. Although Mississippi Blood can stand alone, this is an instance in which I’d recommend reading all three novels in order. It’s a long story with a lot of ground to cover, but a vivid one with easily imaginable characters and truly evil bad guys. Greg Iles fans won’t be disappointed!
Travelers is a well-respected magazine about, well, travelers and traveling.
Will Rhodes is a writer for the magazine who is a bit disenchanted with his life and his marriage, and makes the mistake of allowing himself to be seduced by a woman who uses her power over him to coerce him into a life of espionage.
But just for whom is he spying? And why is he spying on his co-workers? Pretty soon he realizes that the life he thought was boring was never the life he'd been leading at all.
This is one of those stories where no one is who they appear to be, and the more you learn, the less you understand - in other words, a classic Chris Pavone novel!
This novel is a whole-box-of-Kleenex read, but in a good way. It’s a sad story that never descends into the maudlin or becomes cliched in its prose.
Karen Neulander is raising her son, Jake, now six years old, as a single mom. Jake’s father, Dave, made it clear when Karen told him she was pregnant that ‘I love you’ didn’t also mean ‘I’m ready to have a family with you.’ And so she never told him that she’d had a baby boy who was the love of her life. Karen is a political consultant in New York and has it all - a big career, a darling son, and, now ovarian cancer.
This book is written from Karen to the future Jake, and chronicles the most painful thing of all - the fact that Jake wants to meet his father, and Karen feels that she has no choice but to facilitate that. Impossibly, Dave is thrilled and wants to become part of Jake’s life, and Karen is resentful and terrified that the son SHE’D raised - HER best thing - would be taken over by the man who’d dumped them both.
This book could have been formulaic - doling out advice to a child too young to yet comprehend it by a mother embracing every day with courage - but Our Short History is much more complex and heartfelt than that. It will kick you in the gut to read it, but you’ll feel grateful for having done so when you’ve finished.