And Sometimes I Wonder About You by Walter Mosley is a mediocre book by a good writer. In the 5th Leonid McGill novel, the short, irresistible, unstoppable, African American (he describes the skin tones of ever character in the novel) detective who is investigating the murder of a client he initially refused to help. “Leonid navigates difficult personal elements in his own life while uncovering dark secrets about the victim's old-money family and its missing heiress.”
The Stranger by Harlan Coben, “NYT bestselling master of suspense, delivers his most shocking thriller yet.” Adam Price learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, but when he confronts her, the mirage of their perfect life seems to disappear as if it never existed. The plot is contrived and the book has far too many incomplete sentences, but I read this escapist novel in one day.
*The Last Bookaneer is by Matthew Pearl, “the reigning king of popular literary historical thrillers.” In the late 19th century, two literary pirates (bookaneers) are seeking manuscripts to steal and are caught up in a colonial war in Samoa as they compete for Robert Louis Stevenson's last manuscript and try to make a fortune before a new international copyright treaty ends their trade. Although described as “a page-turning journey to the heart of a lost era,” the storyline seems a bit stretched and slow going at points.
*The Sixth Extension: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of geologists, botanists, marine biologists, and others to explain the discovery and impact of five devastating mass extinctions on Earth. In a NYT “10 Best Books of the year, she explains, in a way that I can almost understand, why we are in the 6th periods of major species losses in the history of the universe. “A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account.”
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas is a tale of a Madrid professor who seemed to have it all until her husband suddenly left her. To escape, she accepts a research grant in California involving an exiled Spanish writer who died decades ago. Trying to leave her own troubled life behind, she becomes enmeshed in some eternal issues of love, academics and middle-age.