Still Life by Sarah Winman (Putnam). Big, rich literary novel. A carefully controlled but free-flowing, almost musical style; episodic in structure, but with an entirely coherent theme that’s …
Still Life by Sarah Winman (Putnam). Big, rich literary novel. A carefully controlled but free-flowing, almost musical style; episodic in structure, but with an entirely coherent theme that’s implied, unmistakably, but never presented explicitly (there is no preaching to be tolerated). It’s British in authorship, and most of the principal players are British, but the place is one of the golden world cities: Florence (and Tuscany, of course). I am only barely exaggerating when I say it has come within a few kilometres of satisfying my near-life-long yearning for a good, deep visit there. Really, a lovely read, whether you come to it with that yearning or not.
The Dark Hours: A Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown). Notice the sub-title. These last four books really have been more her series than his. There’s no sign of Michael Connelly getting old, but Harry Bosch is. A little. It’s not to be regretted, though. Ballard is a terrific, quite different sort of cop—she has developed a very distinctive character, tough, rough-edged, more inclined to cut corners than Harry ever was—and will clearly by now be as great a lead in this series as Harry has been. And Harry, of course, has never been other than glad to be plucked out of retirement to help her out. This is very current stuff, too; our almost overwhelming, almost getting boring, pandemic is a factor. Anti-police protests are, well, not a factor, exactly, but a fact of life in them, as in the daily news. The LAPD, even more than LA, is the setting—almost even a character, as always, portrayed as not especially corrupt, but self-satisfied and self-protective, inclined not to turn over rocks of any size—quite unlike Ballard and Bosch.
Psycho by the Sea: A Constable Twitten Mystery by Lynne Truss (Bloomsbury). The fourth in this series by an author whose name calls “charm” to mind more than “crime”; not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s 1957, and of course everything about these engaging books is British. Shall I remind readers once again that Truss is the author of the great, cranky, and otherwise utterly unrelated “philosophy of punctuation” book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves? Nah, this series is quite distinct from that book—witty, for sure (though I’d have voted against the title, here, on “wit” grounds) but real mystery fiction.
A Blizzard of Polar Bears by Alice Henderson (Morrow). So, this better be a sequel to A Solitude of Wolverines, am I right? Of course, and welcome; Alex Carter. The intrepid and tough and likable naturalist heroine of that one is back, and in great form, again. These are crime novels, but outdoors, mostly; the bad guys are bad to animals, too. And so far, the series has lived in cold weather; here, the Canadian Arctic. (Alice Henderson has been in that profession, but she’s a novelist, fully committed and very good at it, not a memoirist.)
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