Maisie Dobbs has a truly impressive history: housemaid, Cambridge student, wartime nurse and now, a private detective. With help from her former employer, Lady Rowan, Maisie's natural ambition, intelligence and empathy aid her in solving some complex mysteries.
In the first book of the series (the ninth book in the series will be released this Spring), Maisie is faced with the strange task of investigating a retreat for traumatized war veterans which turns out to be very close to home. She must draw upon her unique detective training, going beyond the facts in a case, using psychology instead, to come to conclusions; a truly new and fascinating method. What she discovers is closely linked to England's post-war culture; why society shuns the emotionally and phycially damaged and how those in power take advantage of these poor souls.
Maisie is a wonderful heroine who is sure to grab historical fiction and mystery fans alike.
In this epic, illustrated love story, two young slaves who come to find one another against the harsh landscape of the Middle East, must struggle against overwhelming obstacles to be together. A mix of religious stories, mysticism and contemporary social commentary, Craig Thompson (author of Blankets) beautifully renders how a nine year-old Dodola and infant Zam escape slavery, grow into adulthood on an abandoned ship in the desert, and then are forced apart once more just as they begin to feel passion for one another as adults.
The complex plot follows both Zam and Dodola through their journeys apart while symultaneously telling the story of how they met and came to love each other. The magical saga is told through Thompson's outstanding illustrations that are able to convey both the lushness and barbarity of the characters' experiences and beliefs. Take a journey with Habibi and discover the power of love and fate.
Beatrice Hemmings is convinced that her younger sister Tess, a vibrant, life-loving artist, would never have committed suicide. But she is the only one who believes that; everyone else believes that Tess was suffering from postpartum psychosis following the stillbirth of her child and took her own life in a fit of despair or hallucination. Beatrice, determined to get to the truth, sets out to investigate her sister’s death, relating her progress in the form of an extended letter to her sister. As her investigations proceed and everyone around her begins to believe that Beatrice, too, has been unhinged by grief, the reader will wonder the same thing. Was Tess murdered? Is Beatrice simply unable to accept the truth? Not until the explosive and gripping conclusion will the answers to everyone’s questions become plain.
Literary, intelligent, and defying easy genre classification, Lupton’s debut is both a moving meditation on grief and also a gripping psychological thriller. Recommended.
Fearing that her powerful, abusive husband is planning to murder her as she suspects he murdered his first two wives, Rainie Hall fakes her own death with the help of her friends and moves to Crystal Falls, Oregon, to start anew. She is hesitant about applying for the bookkeeper job she sees listed at a local horse ranch—what if her employer checks her references and discovers she’s using a fake identity?—but she has to work so she takes the risk. Parker Harrigan, her new employer, is a handsome, strong, intelligent man; at first angry when he discovers her deception, he also realizes that she’s most likely running for a good reason and keeps her on. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Rainie’s husband has hired a private investigator to locate his runaway wife and he's getting closer and closer to finding her. As Rainie’s danger grows, so too does the attraction and affection between herself and Parker.
A touching romance, as well as a novel that addresses the serious issues of domestic abuse and the long, fraught process of healing from the psychological trauma.
The icy chill of a 19th century Canadian winter is palpable throughout British author Penney’s accomplished debut. Seventeen-year-old Francis Ross disappeared from the town of Dove River on the Georgian Bay the same day his mother discovers the scalped corpse of the boy’s friend Laurent Jammet, a fur trader and former employee of the all-powerful Hudson Bay Company. The sensational murder brings outsiders to the small community: young, earnest Company representative Donald Moody, who’s there to help investigate the crime; and aging former tracker and Native American sympathizer Thomas Sturrock, who hopes to recover a carved bit of bone that had been in the trapper’s possession and which might provide valuable archaeological proof of an ancient Native written language. Unfortunately for Mrs. Ross, there are no obvious suspects other than her missing son—until half-Native trapper William Parker is caught searching the dead man’s house. When Parker is released, Mrs. Ross enlists him to help her go after her son and whoever her son had followed into the wilderness, hoping to prove Francis innocent of the crime.
Atmospheric and complex, the intertwined stories of Penney’s vibrant cast of loners and outsiders are absorbing, and Penney’s choice of time and place is a perfect backdrop.
McCall Smith, well-known for his “Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency” series, brings his trademark warm humor and wise wit to the interlocking stories of a small group of Londoners. The stories here center around the inhabitants of an apartment building in the Pimlico neighborhood called Corduroy Mansions. William, a widowed wine merchant, schemes to oust his lazy freeloading twenty-something son from their shared apartment so William can get on with his life, and enlists Marcia, a single female friend with romantic ambitions toward William, to help him. Dee, a young woman who works in a vitamin shop, cannot understand why her young male coworker won’t let her give him the colonic irrigation she’s convinced he desperately requires. Art history student Caroline conceives a crush on a friend and fellow student who has recently decided he might not be gay after all. Poor Jenny works as a secretary for Oedipus Snark, an MP so odious that even his own mother can’t stand him and is working on his unauthorized biography in order to expose him to the world. These stories and others collide as McCall Smith’s characters each confront their quotidian, universal yet deeply personal, problems. (Dog lovers will particularly enjoy reading about the sprightly and intelligent pooch Freddie de la Hay!)
The wait is almost over! Popular book discussion leader Judy Levin will be returning to the Highland Park Public Library this spring for a three book discussion series. Multiple copies of each title will be available for check-out prior to the discussion, so come prepared to talk!
March 13, 1 PM: "Await Your Reply" by Dan Chaon
April 10, 1PM: "The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown
May 8, 1PM: "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
The narrator of Donohue’s somewhat surreal novel, Jack, awakens on his bathroom floor with a cracked skull, apparently having fallen. From there, his night just gets stranger. A man who intially reminds him of his own father and later of Samuel Beckett has joined him in the bathroom and the two banter amusingly before being joined by seven women in succession. Each woman, apparently the ghost or spirit of a woman in one of Jack’s former lives, has an ax to grind with him—sometimes quite literally, as each woman initially tries to kill him before settling in to tell her story. Each woman was wounded, betrayed, or even killed by a man in their life—and Jack may well be that man. The woman’s stories are fascinating, told in a variety of styles and invoking their characters and periods vividly and effectively. When Jack is finally visited by an eighth woman, his own wife, the reason for the night’s strange events become clear.
The women’s stories are the true stand-out in this novel, with the slightly absurdist, Waiting For Godot-esque interludes in the bathroom serving almost as a distraction at times. Not for everyone, but those with a taste for the offbeat will be pleased.
Gibson, known for thoughtful science fiction exploring the ways in which technology changes human culture in impossible-to-anticipate ways, here brings his considerable talents to bear on the undiscovered country—non-fiction. Gibson’s first collection of non-fiction draws from the last several decades of his writing career, with essays and articles featuring all the usual Gibsonian subjects—the rise of the Internet; the technology and culture of Japan; Gibson’s own past in small-town Virginia and early discovery of science fiction; and all the ways, both small and large, that human culture has already been irrevocably altered by technologies as commonplace as radio and as pervasive as cyberspace. Many, if not all, of the articles, are grounded in Gibson’s own life and experiences, adding a personal touch to a topic which could otherwise seem dry. A sly wit and a lively intelligence shine through the writing, and every article, regardless of whether its predictions have been borne out by reality, is fascinating without fail.
This series of interconnected short stories explores the lives of those men and women who make sacrifices for the sake of the U.S. Army—both the soldiers in Iraq and those they leave behind. Centered around the Army base of Ft. Hood in Texas, each story explores the all-too-common issues faced by Army families—from the death of a loved one to infidelity, from loneliness to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While some increased variation in the story’s themes might be wished—perhaps the story of a husband left behind when his wife went to war?—these short stories are sure to be fascinating to both those families who have experienced this lifestyle and those who wish to better understand the sacrifices made by our armed forces everyday.