September 2013 Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman
Cozy up with a great book as the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler...
'The Telling Room' by Michael Paterniti is a rather long winded tale of the search for an ambrosial Spanish cheese the author tasted decades ago when he worked at Zingermans, the famous deli and fine foods store in Ann Arbor. This is for fans of meandering thought pieces who appreciate detailed travelogues about journeys that don't always have a firm outcome. There are some lovely ruminations on the power of stories and the descriptions of life in rural Spain are well done.
'The English Girl' by Daniel Silva is excellent. Gabriel Allon once again finds himself battling villains bent on treachery. The witty and humorous repartee with his old adversary Keller lightens the dialogue and gives the ever serious Gabriel a foil. Of course the lethal combination of spies and politics creates a page turner as Silva weaves contemporary events into realistic plots. A telling peek at today's Russia and modern spy craft take this several notches above the typical thriller.
'The Light in the Ruins' by Chris Bohjalian begins with a murder in 1955 which has roots in occupied WWII Tuscany, where partisans and Nazis fought bitterly for control of the countryside. The Rosati family's villa is the site of an occupying German unit. Germans loot the art, and family members struggle to accommodate their loyalties to the reality of the occupation and their basic human desires. Innocent victims are a tragic constant of wartime, which this book makes very clear. Good historical detail on the "art collection development" of the German army.
'Eva's Eye' , Karin Fossum's latest book, is actually the belatedly published first in the Inspector Sejer series. Norway is reliably dark and cold, the complex characters riveting. She writes taut police procedurals that highlight the difficulty of tying everything up neatly in a bow.
'Let it Burn', Steve Hamilton's newest Alex McKnight novel, is a crackling thriller. Crisp pacing, great writing, and moody, depressing Detroit all contribute to a very atmospheric tale of retribution and murder. There are lots of twists and unexpected curves from people whose interests don't always mesh. A long ago crime drags Alex reluctantly back to the Detroit cop days that still haunt him. Solving the case and bringing a measure of peace to the protagonists is the challenge he faces.
'Letters from Skye' by Jessica Brockmole is a nostalgic, well written series of letters between a shy poet from the isle of Skye, and the American man who initiates the correspondence. This is a perfect read for fans of 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society' as the correspondence takes place over the years of WWI and WWII. There is a buildup of surprises and potential pitfalls in the growing friendship between the correspondents, impacting the next generation as well.
'The Longest Road' by Philip Caputo chronicles the adventures of "Fred and Ethel" - the truck and Airstream trailer he and his wife Leslie took from Key West to Alaska accompanied by their two Gordon Setters. His goal was to identify the "glue" that holds the diverse peoples of the USA together. Hilarious vignettes of maintaining a temperamental vehicle, dealing with rambunctious dogs, getting along with your spouse in close quarters, and most importantly enjoying the journey, make this a very enjoyable read.
'Holy Orders' by Benjamin Black brings back our favorite Dublin pathologist Quirk. Quirk tangles with the Catholic hierarchy after the murder of his daughter's friend Jimmy Minor, crossing paths with some truly creepy people. Tension ratchets up as various special interests pressure Quirk and Detective Hackett to abandon their investigation. There is a fascinating back story involving the tinkers to add a different twist.
''The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook' by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer - Purcell is a treasure. The "Oatmeal Cream Pies with Ginger Cream" are reason enough to check out this lusciously photographed and carefully edited selection of wonderful desserts. These recipes are meant to help "create memories around your table". The book more than fulfills this promise.
Phillip Kerr's series featuring Bernie Gunther is deservedly popular. Bernie is a bit of a Forest Gump presence at the major events in German history beginning after WWI. 'A Quiet Flame' finds Bernie in Argentina in 1950, now home to washed up Nazis escaping from justice. He is corralled into helping the local police find a killer they are convinced is in the German community. Bernie quickly sees possible connections to a case he worked on when he was a detective in Berlin in 1932 and the hunt is on.