Following the overwhelming success of The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl….series) by Stieg Larsson and the recent success of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, it’s no wonder American publishers are clamoring to get new Scandinavian authors out on the crime fiction shelves. Sometimes, this leads to less than stellar works…published just for the sake of being published. That is NOT the case with this book by Kepler, a Swedish husband and wife writing team. The Hypnotist is one of the strongest thrillers I’ve read in ages…since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…and even gives that first book of Larsson’s trilogy a run for its money. Most of the way through (up until the very end — maybe the last 50 pages) was some of the best suspense ever! Kepler knows just how to reel the audience in and how much or how little to give away…letting the chills mount until they just HAVE to be released. The ending was a bit of a disappointment, which is why it was not able to surpass The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my favorite crime story in a decade. Unlike Girl, which has a very strong ending, The Hypnotist’s story and writing seems to drag on unnecessarily at the end, which is a shame since most of the book was so taut and fine-tuned. But, the ending should not keep you from reading this one. The first 450 pages are superb and need to be savored and remembered as you read to the end. I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this one! A MUST for all crime readers!
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Not one of Berg’s best but still a strong tale of woe among 50-something divorcees. The main female character, Irene, got a little tiresome after a while since I so disagreed with a lot of choices in both parenting and dealing with her ex-husband. But, John, the ex, is a strongly written, interesting male voice in modern-day America. I felt John had his feet planted more in the real world than Irene, especially when dealing with their 18-year-old daughter. If you’ve read Berg (and other women’s fiction) and liked her, you will mostly like this one.
Winner – 2006 ALA Notable Fiction Selection
A BookPage Notable Title
Oskar Schell is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Thirteen-year-old Wendy lives in Brooklyn. Her world is transformed one day in September 2001–her mother goes to work that morning and doesn’t come back. Through Wendy’s eyes, readers follow her slow and terrible realization that her mother has died, and the family’s struggle to move forward with their lives. …More
| The Submission
By Waldman, Amy
2011-08 – Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374271565 Check Our Catalog
Cool, eloquent, raising two fatherless children, Claire has emerged as the most visible of the widows who became a potent political force in the aftermath of the catastrophe. She longs for her husband, but she has found her mission: she sits on a jury charged with selecting a fitting memorial for the victims of the attack. …More
By Updike, John
2007-05 – Ballantine Books
9780345493910 Check Our Catalog
BookPage Notable Title
| Ground Zero
By Wilson, F. Paul
2010-09 – Tor Books
9780765362797 Check Our Catalog
Jack finds the secret behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in the new dark thriller in the bestselling Repairman Jack series. …More
| Absent Friends
By Rozan, S. J.
2008-08 – Dell Publishing Company
9780440241850 Check Our Catalog
The secrets of a group of childhood friends unravel in this haunting thriller by Edgar Award winner Rozan, set in New York in the unforgettable aftermath of September 11. …More
Set during both WWII and in the mid-1980s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an exceptional novel about a time in history American we are too willing to forget…the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. Set in Seattle, Hotel focuses around main character Henry, who is a young 12-year-old Chinese American boy in 1942, where much of the book takes place. During these historical chapters, he meets Keiko, a Japanese girl who is a second generation American. They both start out apprehensive of each other (Henry’s father loathes the Japanese) but eventually grow to care deeply for each other. When Keiko and her family, along with all of the other Japanese families, are rounded up and moved to camps set up by the American government, Henry is not only unhappy but confused…confused since Keiko is more American than he is. Keiko does not even speak Japanese. This contrasts with Henry’s background…where his parents speak only Chinese and they force him to speak only “his English.”
I really liked this novel. It has one of the best, most moving stories I’ve read. Ever. Now, mind you, I am not saying this is the best book I have ever read. Why? What is the difference between “best story” and “best book?” Simple: the way it was written. As I was reading Hotel, I found myself thinking about another book I had read that was also set in the Pacific Northwest about Japanese Americans: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though Snow takes place AFTER WWII and Hotel focuses on events that happen DURING the war, I continued to make comparisons between the two while I was reading Hotel. Comparisons to the story and the location and the romantic elements…NOT comparisons to the writing. Guterson’s novel from 1994 is filled with lyrical prose that I remember submerging myself into and not wanting to escape from…vivid from page one to the end, brilliantly bringing to life an entire setting through the pages. The love story in Snow between the main characters is enhanced by the poetic words given to describe both them and their surroundings. Jamie Ford’s writing in Hotel is good…very good. It’s just not excellent. It’s the story in Hotel that you want to savor, not the prose. Had Ford brought to Hotel the expressive, inspired language Guterson used, Hotel might just have been a true literary masterpiece. But, having a minor masterpiece is still pretty good! It’s a great, page-turning read and a story that will stay with you long after the final page.
A true tearjerker, Night Road, is a perceptive novel on motherhood, friendship, family relationships and the devastation of loss. Jude Farraday is a super overbearing mother of twins, Mia and Zach. On the first day of high school Lexie Baill, newly adopted by her grand aunt, befriends Mia who is shy and insecure in contrast to her popular and athletic twin Zach. Jude grateful that Mia has found a friend opens her home to Lexie. The friendship flourishes.
As the action fast forwards to senior year, Jude beset by college applications and drinking parties becomes obsessive in her control of the twins’ lives. The timing for this novel is just right for Mother’s Day since the characterization of Jude relates so well to every mother who feels the pressure and concern for the happiness of her children. Adding to the tenderness of the novel Lexie and Zach fall in love.
On one tragic night on Night Road Jude’s fears are realized. In the explosion of Jude’s grief, guilt and rage lives are broken and dreams destroyed.
Setting and strong insightful characterization contribute to a realistic heartbreaking story.
In a previous post, I spoke of all of the books I read on my iPad while on vacation. Here short reviews of the titles that I read:
Brett, Simon — The Body on the Beach – The first of Brett’s Fethering mysteries, this is a fun cozy mystery set in a smallish coastal town in the South of England. The two main characters become amateur sleuths as they investigate a body that one of them found on the beach.
Crombie, Deborah — Where Memories Lie – An intense mystery featuring Crombie’s English police team of Kincaid and James. This one involves a diamond brooch that was stolen by the Nazis and belongs to a woman who needs to get to the bottom of why people associated with the brooch are turning up dead.
Fielding, Joy — Missing Pieces – A page-turning thriller that also has its fair share of family drama. Married with teen kids, Kate is a therapist whose former flame has just reentered her life and sister is in love with a serial killer. As Kate’s home life continues to unravel, her sister makes some decisions that jeopardize all of their lives.
Keyes, Marian — Sushi for Beginners – Lisa finally gets the promotion she’s been waiting for…but it’s Dublin, Ireland…not NYC, where all the movers and shakers are. On the other hand, Ashling LOVES Dublin and her new job working for Lisa. As always with chick lit, there are several different men who add complication to the plot. LOTS of fun…as usual from Keyes.
Rendell, Ruth — Murder Being Once Done – Rendell’s Chief Inspector Wexford is at it once again…this time in London, where he’s recuperating after a heart attack. But Wexford doesn’t know the meaning of the word REST, especially when he stumbles into a case of multiple murders.
Wickham, Madeleine — The Gatecrasher – Wickham (who also writes under her pen name Sophie Kinsella) once again scores with a weightier, meatier tale than she writes as Kinsella. This time, she features a main character who crashes funerals, hoping the new widower will be wealthy. Vivid characters outshine Wickham’s plot…but still lots of fun!
Winspear, Jacqueline — A Lesson in Secrets – Winspear’s 8th outing with her continuing sleuth Maisie Dobbs, who’s a spunky young PI in England between WWI and WWII. This time, Maisie is undercover in a college when the principal is murdered. Dobbs then reveals her true identity as a detective and begins to solve the crime.