Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). International intrigue thriller, beginning with the disappearance of our central woman’s new husband – we think …
Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). International intrigue thriller, beginning with the disappearance of our central woman’s new husband – we think we’re in a very sophisticated domestic suspense novel at first, and sophisticated is a word that clearly applies; but domestic, not so much.
Nobody is quite what they seem, including even the woman at the center of it all. It isn’t that they’re all sinister, there are good people, here, but it’s a while before we’re confident we know which ones they are. And still, even so, I don’t want to leave the impression that this big, dramatic book is just stunts.
It’s serious about what spies have to do, but also about what a novelist can do.
City of Orange by David Yoon (Putnam). Another genre novel, this one science fiction, but, here again, more literary, aware of itself, than s-f usually allows. Gloomy in the description, and sad, to be sure, and yet enjoyable and hopeful in the reading: A man wakes up with no recent memory, in a landscape that’s entirely barren—in a dry artificial channel that describes rather like those empty concrete rivers to be found in Los Angeles.
He remembers only a little of his life to this moment, but does remember his wife and daughter, whom he loved and now dearly misses (he has assumed that they have been taken by whatever it was that placed him here). He’s smart and sad and witty, and steadfastly inclined to work to survive; something of a Robinson Crusoe on his island (and that classic novel is explicitly referred to in this one).
And he is, I hasten to assure you, very good company for the reader, a guy to get to know, and one we’re rooting for, not just to survive but also to learn what he’s here for.
Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman (Forge). Family history novel, in which mysteries arise and seem threatening, so also a suspense novel. But the physical and mental decline of a man’s father, and his son’s care for him, are rich, and would have been rich even without the suspense engine powering us forward.
Goldman’s fifth novel—he has also worked in television, which seems a medium that intelligent (or anyway, clever) entertainment novelists can command along with books. It’s the first of Goldman’s that I’ve seen, but I’ll be watching for him, now. This novel is complex but never confusing, and nobody in it is a prop or a device; humans, all.
Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel (Tom Doherty/Nightfire). Thoughtful horror novel, a first novel, not supernatural and not quite science fiction.
Well written—terrific early reviews—but possibly mostly for women. It’s much to do with mothering, including a wonderfully creepy institutional form of it, but including giving birth; and those scenes are well written, too, and uncomfortable in the reading, at least for one especially squeamish man of my acquaintance.
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