*Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, Emmy Award-winning creator of Fargo, provides a before and after analysis of the mysterious crash of a private jet off Cape Cod. The story of the crew, crash investigators and five wealthy victims of the crash intertwine with the only survivors, a down-on-his-luck painter and a four-year-old boy, with odd coincidences pointing to a possible conspiracy. While engaging, entertaining, and fun, it isn’t great literature.
*Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All continues Jonas Jonasson’s trademark satirical humor of The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of His Window and Disappeared. A disgraced priest, an ex-millionaire's grandson and a recently released murderer form a profitable alliance to defraud gangsters, commercialize a new religion based on generous servings of the sacraments and utilize social media to help Santa become a more profitable enterprise. “Often laugh-out-loud funny…non-noir Nordic crime fiction to savor”.
*The Unseen World by Liz Moore “winds its way through mystery, heartbreak and mortality with an acute sense of what it means to be human.” 12-year old Ada Sibelius is trying to understand the adult world of technology and her brilliant, socially inept father. When Ada’s father goes missing, she is led down a difficult path to discover his true past –and her own future.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a debut novel about an upper middle-class, dysfunctional New York family who hope their inheritance (affectionately called the nest) will be dispersed in time to solve the financial problems created by their irresponsibility. Reviewers loved the book, but many readers, seem to share my impression that the four Plumbs were too rotten and to continue reading until the author could fashion a moderately positive conclusion.
The Trouble with Sheep and Goats by Joanna Canon’s debut novel is a study “of hypocrisy and prejudice in an insightful and compassionate parable” about life in a 1976 British Council Estate. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is filled with secrets and whispers that 10-year old Tilly and Grace try to understand in their search to discover God. Except for the two girls, I didn’t find the characters or narrative as engaging as the professional reviewers.
*Time and Time Again by Ben Elton is an engaging alternative history. Asked by his former Cambridge Don to use secret correspondence from Isaac Newton about time travel, ex-soldier and adventurer, Hugh Stanton returns to June, 1914, to prevent World War I by stopping an assassination. Andrew Lloyd Webber says, “An absolute page turner. The historical perspective (both real and imagined) is forensically astute and the narrative thrillingly inventive.”