Log in Subscribe

About Books

July 30, 2021

George Ernsberger
Posted 7/30/21

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Atria).

It’s not exactly psychological suspense, though there’s psychology involved, of course; in fact, most of the suspense consists of: what …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

About Books

July 30, 2021

Posted

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Atria).

It’s not exactly psychological suspense, though there’s psychology involved, of course; in fact, most of the suspense consists of: what twist is possible now, after the ones we’ve already been spun through? But it’s believable on every page—even the craziness is. Our likeable, witty first-person narrator’s habitual seat-mate on a sort of commuter riverboat doesn’t show up one day, and in a matter of minutes (well, the first few pages) she’s a suspect in his disappearance. And we’re off, somehow burrowing and soaring at once; the plotting is twisty and character depth (and complexity) is relentlessly convincing. This is very high-class suspense fiction. And, just, fiction.

Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades by David Steinberg (Knopf).

I suppose you’d have to care at least a little about comedy…but if you do, well! It’s funny, all right, but also very smart. Steinberg (he’s in his 70s, now, and seems retired from stand-up) has been interviewing other comedians for years, but following and admiring them for even longer, and he has much to say that’s interesting alongside the interviews. The lineup is sterling: Milton Berle through the Smothers Brothers to Seinfeld and beyond. Probably best enjoyed (but that’s very much enjoyed!) over a few evenings, rather than straight through.

The Lost Girls by Jessica Chiarella (Putnam).

Very strong domestic/psychological suspense novel, but also a women’s friendship novel (yes, yet another). A young woman whose sister was seemingly kidnapped—disappeared, anyway—has a podcast in which she talks about that, and that attracts the attention of a doctor who has lost her brother in much the same way. Their ad hoc partnership, then, become as much the subject of the novel as the mystery is. But the suspense plot remains the engine, and this is a compelling read, tense, twisty, surprising, all the way through.

Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering by Scott A. Small (Crown).

Small, mind-expanding book on the mind—yet another of this favorite genre of the column. Intelligent, but enjoyable by a person just passably smart, and with self-help hints. The author is a researcher in Alzheimer’s, and there are insights worth trying on about that, though that isn’t central, here.

The Heathens: A Quinn Colson Novel by Ace Atkins (Putnam).

Crime novels, this series, in the sense that’s implied by that rather self-conscious term: real fiction, by a real novelist who happens to be especially interested in this part of life and in this part of America (Mississippi, that would be). All you really need to hear is that Atkins, and so Colson, are still who you know they are (and if you haven’t met them, you can start here as well as anywhere). Sheriff Colson bumps heads with his friend and former deputy Little Virgil in this one.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here