The Avenue of Mysteries by John Irvine is a “sprawling, imaginative tale about a writer whose life’s journey has all the qualities of a modern Dickens novel.” Irvine is a talented writer but this is far from his best book. I haven’t been able to finish it but will try again next year.
*X by Sue Grafton is “Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel.” Featuring a sociopathic serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Kinsey Millhone quickly identifies the killer but take some time to review past cases, reintroduce the loveable characters in her circle and drop a few almost current tidbits about Santa Barbara before building a case to bring the villain to justice. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan says, “Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters.”
**The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a literary apothecary, a floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine where Monsieur Perdu prescribes novels for the problems of life--for everyone except himself. After 20 years of mourning a lost love, Perdu unties his barge and travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books with a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef. “A charming international best seller that believes in the healing properties of fiction, romance, and a summer in the south of France."
The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz who attempts, unsuccessfully, to pick up the mantle of the late Stieg Larsson. In this follow-up to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest finds genius-hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist teaming up to confront a dangerous new cyber threat to the free world. There’s lots of review of Larsson’s previous books in a lumbering story with the plot being largely developed by long conversations with the key players instead of a description of the events as they unfold.
See Me by Nicolas Sparks, the best male writer of ‘chick lit’ is predictably charming but far from his best effort. Colin Hancock, a young man with a destructive past who is focused on keeping his life on course to become a teacher. His monis regime of work, study and exercise is challenged by Maria Sanchez, a hardworking lawyer, her immigrant family who is nervous about his tattoos and police record. Despite attempts by her former lover and a cynical police detective to derail their romance, their inherit goodness prevails.
*Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford is another in this year’s parade of “witty tales about high-society wannabes…” Reminiscent of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and the more modern Primates of Park Avenue and Luckiest Girl Alive, NY Times reporter Clifford’s debut is a “relentlessly fascinating story of old money and callous ambition.” Yes, it is chick lit and beach reading, but still insight and good fun.