Monday, March 02, 2009

FEBRUARY BOOKS


DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY/Craig Johnson/A
Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire has had some bad weeks recently. He's still recovering from the tragic end of his last case. And he needs a new deputy. And winter is coming. So he's annoyed when a former sheriff claims that a death in a nursing home is murder. Turns out the former sheriff was once married to the woman in question, a member of the Basque community, and said woman has quite a large estate to leave. Did someone kill her for her money? Or do the roots of this crime go further back? I adore Walt Longmire and this was a wonderful story. Now on to the third book in the series.

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH/Avi/A
A little book, written for teens, about a 9th-grader who causes a national incident when he's punished for singing the national anthem in homeroom. The novel is told entirely through diary entries, letters, phone calls, and interviews of the various participants, giving the reader the chance to see the incident through multiple eyes. As the mother of two teenage boys, it was a great reminder that most of what's going on in a teenager's head is kept hidden and I shouldn't jump to conclusions quite so fast.

THE PRIVATE PATIENT/P.D. James/A
Sigh--I love Adam Dalgliesh. This novel had everything I love about James--the trademark opening section which introduces us to various intriguing characters and the tensions that will bring about murder in a private plastic surgery clinic; Dalgliesh and his team moving methodically and empathetically among the witnesses and suspects; twisty plot points and most of all, humanity. There's a small but emotionally important sub-plot about Adam's fiancee, Emma, and an attack on one of her friends and the novel ends with an event I've been waiting for none too patiently--the wedding of Adam and Emma. I hope the 89-year-old Baroness James lives a long time so we can have more Dalgliesh stories.

ENDER IN EXILE/Orson Scott Card/B
A direct sequel to ENDER'S GAME, which means it fills in some of the time gap between that book and SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. Ender may have won the war, but that doesn't mean he can go home. Instead, the 14-year-old is appointed governor of the first human colony in space. He elects to stay awake during the voyage (2 years in relative time, more than 40 years in earth time) and much of the action takes place on the colony ship. I wanted to like this more than I did--Ender actually began to bug me a little bit in his perfection and I thought Card shortchanged the ending of a critical POV character (a teenage girl whose mother wants her to marry Ender). But it was still an Ender story, which means I was happy to read it.

TUTANKHAMEN/Christine El Mahdy/B-
The story of Egypt's most famous king, placing him in the historical context of his lifetime. El Mahdy spend the first two-thirds of the book recounting the discovery of his tomb and then giving us the accepted version of Tutankhamen and the pharaoh who preceded him, the controversial Akhenaten. The last third gives her account of Akhenaten, the mysterious Smenkhare who ruled briefly after him, and the teenage Tutankhamen who died too young and might never have been known if not for the magic of his treasure-filled tomb. It was a little confusing to follow in style, but it did have some interesting points and I especially loved the pictures of some of the pharaoh's artifacts.

THE PRICE OF BUTCHER'S MEAT/Reginald Hill/A
It was a good month for series I love. In this Dalziel/Pascoe novel, Dalziel is sent to an expensive convalescent home on the Yorkshire coast to recover from his injuries and coma suffered in the last book. But of course it won't be restful--the local lady of the manor is found dead at her own hog roast. Rich, rude, and several-times married, Daphne Brereton had enemies to spare. Dalziel tries to keep out of Pascoe's way when he comes to investigate, but you can't keep a good copper down and it's Dalziel who possesses some criticial information. Filled with Hill's witty writing and unforgettable characters--I'm smiling just remembering the book.

THE FAITH CLUB/Idilby, Oliver, & Warner/B+
A book club read. After the 9/11 attacks, New York Muslim Ranya Idilby wonders what she can teach her children about being Muslim in America. She decides to write a children's book with two other mothers--one Christian, one Jewish. I don't know if the children's book was ever written--but THE FAITH CLUB has been very succesful. The three women talk honestly about their fears, their personal faith, and their preconceptions of the others' religions. It wasn't a perfect book, but it was intriguing and the friendship the three women develop is beautiful.

MYSTIC RIVER/Dennis Lehane/C
Beautifully written, impeccably rendered characters, a plot that falls into place just when it should . . . so why isn't it an A book? This is one of those times where I have to fall back on "I am not the audience for this book." The story opens with three young boys playing in the street. One of them gets in a car and vanishes for four days. Twenty-five years later, the boys are brought back together when the daughter of one is murdered. This story was bleak and there weren't enough sympathetic characters to ease the bleakness. Still, I can see why Lehane has a wide audience; he's a wonderful writer.

2 comments:

beccaajoy said...

I always love your reviews!

Anonymous said...

I hardly dare read them. They always increase my "to read" list. If only you could increase my reading time.

Patty