The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruis Zafó "takes us into a dark, gothic universe …and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy.” Blending deft, evocative writing with a bit of magic realism, Zafón keeps the reader turning pages, but in the end, the truffles don’t make for a satisfying meal.
The Fixer by bestselling author, Joseph Finder, is a story of a investigative reporter who loses his job, fiancée, and apartment and has to move back and renovate the home of his miserable youth. He finds millions hidden in the walls and sets out to learn the secrets of his comatose father who turns out to have been a “fixer.” Finder has written good books, but this isn’t one of them. If he had taken another six months to edit and revise, this could have been much better.
A Tightly Raveled Mind by Diane Lawson is a book that Freud might have liked, but I didn’t. Dr. Nora Goodman is a sexy forty-something psychoanalyst with a handful of one-dimensional, neurotic patients who, like their analyst, can't seem to allow themselves happiness, love, or success. I liked the descriptions of San Antonio and some of the psychobabble as Lawson tried to blend crime-solving and psychoanalytic understanding of unconscious mental processes.
Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman is the disjointed story of Tooly Zylberberg and her Dickensian, peripatetic life. Covering three continents and switching back and forth over thirty year, the novel left me more confused than the reviewer who gave it high praise. The SF Chronicle called it, “inventive… full of wonderfully quirky, deeply flawed, but lovable characters.”
*The Book Seller by Cynthia Swanson gives Kitty Miller the opportunity to experience both paths in Frost’s “Roads Not Taken.” She has come to accept her unconventional single life and loves the little bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda. Then, she starts having realistic dreams about a different life involving a great husband, beautiful children and different challenges. Reminiscent of Sliding Doors “The Bookseller is a delightful and haunting exploration of identity, love and loss. ..written with great style and compassion.”
Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo was called a “ perfectly pitched thriller" (Sunday Mirror) Perhaps, but I found it to be a terse, dark, introspective first person account about the work life and musings of Olav, a contract killer for a ruthless crime boss. Beneath the murders and other failed criminal efforts, Olav has a heart of gold, if only he didn’t have a bad childhood and dyslexia. Don’t look for a happy ending.