May 2013 Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman
Summer is approaching... Time to get that Barbecue ready!
'Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction' arrived just in time for the advent of the grilling season. In his trademark approachable style Bobby demystifies the grilling of just about anything. He uses original flavorings and techniques that are bound to brighten up your summer meals. He includes a lot of vegetable recipes which is a welcome addition.
'Ordinary Grace' by William Kent Kreuger is a terrific book which will appeal to many readers. Set in northern Minnesota during the early 1960's it is a coming of age story, and a lamentation on the horrors of death in all its guises. Kreuger artfully shows how death impacts both families and entire communities. The local pastor's family is the centerpiece of the novel. The two young brothers, one of whom is the narrator, are really wonderful characters.
'When the Devil Drives' by Christopher Brookmyre is one of the newer entries in the Scottish crime fiction section. Featuring excellent writing and crackling atmosphere, clever, clever PI Jasmine Sharp and equally smart but always one step behind DCI Catherine Macleod pursue a killer. Fun for fans of the Bard as the backdrop is the theater world. There are lots of quotations to test your knowledge and plenty of imaginative twists.
'Beautiful Ruins' by Jess Walter is a treasure. Set in both Cinque Terre Italy in the early 1960's and present day Hollywood, it brings together a memorable cast of characters. Superb writing creates a world with a seamless mixture of fictional and real persona (Richard Burton has a sizeable role), and great character development supports a story line that emphasizes the foibles that make imperfect humans so alluring.
'Snob Zones' by Lisa Prevost examines various New England communities under the subtitle of "fear, prejudice and real estate". Zoning regulations, compliance with Section 8 regulations, and the long term impact of exclusionary zoning rules are all explored. She is a good reporter whether you agree or not with the conclusions.
'Shouting Won't Help' by Katherine Bouton will help you understand why you or someone you know might be saying "what?" a little too often in the course of normal conversation. Subtitled "Why I - and 50 Million Other Americans Can't Hear You" it delves into the author's own hearing loss, which drives her to research the overall issue. What she finds is fascinating and distressing; as we age we will suffer the effect of our very loud, plugged in world.
'The Innocence Game' by Michael Harvey is a taut thriller. Harvey sets his books in the Chicago area and this one takes place largely in Evanston. Three students at Northwestern's Medill journalism school enroll in a seminar dedicated to determining whether criminals may have been wrongfully convicted. They are immediately caught up in a case where nothing is at it seems and everyone has a hidden agenda. Scary doings ratchet up the tension and keep you guessing about where the truth lies.
'The Spies of Warsaw' by Alan Furst is not a new book; I mention it as the DVD of the BBC's two part series just came out and it does a terrific job capturing the dark, tense atmosphere prior to the invasion of Poland by the Germans. In the event you have not read any of Alan Furst's fine novels of WWII Europe do yourself a favor and check them out! He is one of the premier authors in the espionage genre.
'Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog' by Jamie Ivey is an engaging armchair traveler's special revolving around truffles, building a life and home in France, and dog training. The author moved his family from London in search of the good life in Provence. Fans of Peter Mayle will recognize some of the types who populate these pages. Life as an ex-pat is not without its challenges and this is a warts and all portrait. Snuffle the truffle dog of course squirms his way into the family's heart. The author runs a successful wine business and loves food; this is not a book to read when you are hungry!
'Murder as a Fine Art' by David Morrell is a suspenseful, historically accurate descent into murder and mayhem in Victorian London. The author has done his research; unraveling the mystery is a nerve wracking proposition for the detectives in the new Scotland Yard. London is depicted as a spooky, fog bound city, the better to hide a crazed killer. Historical accuracy and numerous details add to this book's pleasure. Highly recommended for all.