Friday, September 05, 2014

New on This Week's Bookshelf: Neggers, Child, French, Turner, and Briefly, Penny

I purchased these and they came by mail this week, so count on reviews over the next few weeks -- I'm also working on a stack of advance review copies of other titles, and I'll probably interleave the two categories. But I wanted to let you know what I picked up most recently:

HARBOR ISLAND by Carla Neggers. Few realize this gifted author of romantic suspense is a Vermonter ... her multiple series span several police forces and take place on two continents. This one features Sharpe and Donovan. I always know a new Carla Neggers mystery means a deft plot twist, likeable sleuths, and a satisfying ending. I buy these "for me."

But I also can't resist Lee Child's Jack Reacher series -- where the pace drives me into staying up half the night, and Reacher has just enough honor and vulnerability to keep me wanting to know more. So I've picked up PERSONAL. Can hardly wait. (US cover on left, UK on right.)

The most depth and provocative ideas are sure to come in the Tana French book in my stack, THE SECRET PLACE. French rotates protagonists in her Dublin Murder Squad series and makes it clear how directly the crimes and sins of the past impact the present.

Which leads me to my fourth acquisiton: from poet and Iraq war veteran Brian Turner, the new memoir, MY LIFE AS A FOREIGN COUNTRY. Dave and I are already gently competing on who gets to read this one first -- we're passionate about Turner's writing, and the way he shows us both war and the human heart. No, it's not a mystery ... unless you count the enjoyable investigation of how Turner carries revelation and suspense and meaning into his pages.

Now, back to those other books I've already savored and want to mention -- oh yes, one more quick tidbit. I've changed my mind about something I mentioned a couple of weeks ago: I'm not going to review Louise Penny's new Armand Gamache mystery, THE LONG WAY HOME, in any detail. I think Penny dropped a lot of items in this one that should have been woven more effectively into the book, and I'm not happy with the way she tipped a crime into a book that otherwise reads as a series of personal investigations into art and creativity. Fans of the series -- and I am definitely a fan! -- will want this anyway for the sake of the Three Pines characters, but I think it's best viewed as a draft of a better book she could have written. Those who explore her website or follow her newsletters know she's had a hard year personally, and I tip my hat to her for completing her work within the yearly publishing schedule that her fame now demands. Everyone deserves a "pass" at least once in a writing career, and I'll let this book slide without further comment.

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