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February 25, 2022

George Ernsberger
Posted 2/25/22

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You by Ariel Delgado Dixon (Random House).

A first novel, dark, literary (the writing sometimes hums, sometimes crackles), a “family …

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About Books

February 25, 2022


Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You by Ariel Delgado Dixon (Random House).

A first novel, dark, literary (the writing sometimes hums, sometimes crackles), a “family history”—the history of a relatively brief, unstable marriage, and more centrally, the lives of its children, two sisters, five years apart. A central, powerful, passage around which the girls’ lives turn (though we don’t spend overmuch of this book there) is a camp (in our part of the world) for troubled kids—part of what has come to be known as “the troubled-teen industry,” serving, it seems, parents who discover that they can’t really manage to parent but can afford to pay—a lot—to others to “straighten out” the kinks they’ve allowed their kids to develop (and what sort of persons, do you suppose, would be inclined to operate such a place?). This is no sort of horror novel, but there is as much horror as sorrow to be lived through, subtly but clearly evoked. And they don’t just live through it, they triumph over it, even though it takes them, and us, a bit to recognize that (there are no trumpets). This is very much a writer to watch.

The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Vintage paperback).

A very “today” sort of private eye novel: smart, and great fun. The “eye”, our central character and narrator, is not so much a gumshoe as a mouse: a computer nerd who works for a very techie firm of private investigators, mostly investigating online daters—lonelyhearts and/or (all too often) swindlers or worse posing as romance-seekers. It’s also (of all things for a private eye mystery) a family novel; our private eye is a young single woman with a hovering mom and more successful siblings. Her work is supposedly to be done onscreen and online and at her desk in the agency, but we aren’t at all surprised when she ventures out into the real world with the rest of us, to learn more about some of us who are not just sneaky but seriously dangerous.

Diablo Mesa by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central).

The third in their new series set in the American Southwest, featuring a pair of young women, an archaeologist and an FBI agent. Not only are they and this series terrific, we are getting them (so far) not instead of but in addition to the authors’ classic Pendergast novels (so, two books a year, now!).

Nothing to Lose: A J. P. Beaumont Novel by J. A. Jance (Morrow).

The 25th of her first series, her fifty-somethingth overall; and of course nobody is more respectful of both their readers and their characters than Jance. Here, she comes up with yet another not just clever but deeply intelligent and thoughtful problem to present to her “firstborn” (well, you know, first created) character, long since retired as a formal lawman, but never for long idle as a private investigator.


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