A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny explores a murder at an artist's village home where Chief Inspector Gamache and his team encounter deceptive nuances in the art world that distort every clue. Similar to others in this series with atmospheric writing, subtle insights into the characters and the art world. For me, there was a little too much retelling of the previous novel and similarities to others in this series… Ok, I’ve probably read too many of these in the past year.
*The Sympathizer by Viet Thank Nguyen is narrated by a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon. He builds a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in LA while secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam, but always feels like an outsider because of all the dualities in his life. This Pulitzer prize winner has much excellent writing, psychological insight combined with humor and wisdom, but tends to get caught up in its own eloquence
**Green by Sam Graham-Felsen is a coming-of-age novel about race, privilege, and the struggle to get ahead in America, written by a former Obama campaign staffer and energized by an exuberant, unforgettable narrator. As one of a few whites at MLKing Middle School, David Greenfield is part hip-hop, part nerd, and a totally unique creation. “Green earns . . . a spot on the continuum of vernacular in the American literary tradition, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to The Catcher in the Rye.” (Boston Globe)
The Rooster Bar by John Grisham was inspired by an Atlantic article and highlights the disturbing world of for-profit legal (and other types of) education. Three students who borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar learn that their school is owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans team up to seek justice. The plot is creative, but the writing is mixed and not up to Grisham’s usual standard.