Tuesday, January 24, 2012

December Books

Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon is called to investigate the brutal murder of a Yemeni woman in Jerusalem and finds more than just murder to deal with. The neighborhood itself is suspicious of all outsiders and there is an intifada to contend with, as well as the mystery of kidnapped Yemeni children fifty years before. There are tensions everywhere Ohayon turns and the murderer may not stop at one death. Interesting for its setting and sense of place and time.

I absolutely ADORED the second in Clare's Infernal Devices series about Shadowhunters in Victorian London. Tessa Gray can't quite stop thinking about Will Herondale, although he made it perfectly clear he wasn't interested. But Will has his secrets and this book reveals them. But while he's trying to find a way out of his dark past, Tessa is falling for his best friend, Jem. Oh, there's also demons and traitors and clockwork automatons that want only to destroy the Shadowhunters. Brilliant characters with lots of peril and love thrown in. Brilliant.

If I worshipped any writer, I'm beginning to think it would be Ann Patchett. Pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon when a colleague dies while tracking down an elusive doctor. The doctor is Marina's former teacher and she is studying the apparently lifelong fertility of a particular tribe of native women. The only other thing you need to know is this: that not only can Patchett write the literary socks off anyone working today, she can tell a compelling story. I was shocked more than once, but shouldn't have been, and her descriptions are breathtakingly good. Pick up any book by Patchett and start reading.

Vanessa Michael Monroe provides information for anyone who can pay her exorbitant fees. She is prepared to turn down her next offer, as she has no wish to return to the Africa of her childhood, but ends up taking the case of a young woman who vanished and was presumably killed several years before in West Africa. Not only will Monroe be facing her own ghosts, but she's stepping into a minefield of political and personal traps. Full of guns and bad guys and cool gadgets--I thought the weakness was Monroe herself. I could not warm to her and I don't know if I'll read more of Stevens' books. However, it was a great choice for reading by the pool in Hawaii.

BLACKOUT and  ALL CLEARConnie Willis/A
These two books--which tell one story--are nearly as good as Willis' DOOMSDAY BOOK. In this version of her time-traveling Oxford future, several students are in England at various points and places in early WWII when the net that connects them with their future suddenly and inexplicably shuts down. With no idea what has happened in the future--and terrified that their own actions have or will tip the balance of this critical war so that England loses--the students are left to cope in a wartime world they are only partially prepared for. Willis is brilliant and if you think you don't like time travel or science fiction, I beg you to try these books. I've never read anything half so good about the Blitz and the cost of the war to Londoners in particular. Absolutely perfect (except I would have liked a little more Mr. Dunworthy along the way--and Colin--but there parts are also perfect.)

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