VOLUME CONTROL: HEARING IN A DEAFENING WORLD by David Owen (Riverhead). Practical advice, but also clear, lively science—even social science, of the sounds we actually react to, on purpose or …
VOLUME CONTROL: HEARING IN A DEAFENING WORLD by David Owen (Riverhead). Practical advice, but also clear, lively science—even social science, of the sounds we actually react to, on purpose or not—and yes, of hearing, only part of which is physiology. All of which, it turns out, not only enriches but sharpens your thinking about the practical issues. Look, you can trust me on both parts of this. No book on this subject is enough to convince you to do anything different from what you're doing (or not doing) about how you're hearing what you're hearing; but this will resolve some of the arguments you've been having with the people around you who have been grumbling about your . . . attention? And also the arguments you've been having with yourself on all parts of the subject. Though . . . who knows where that might lead?
BRYANT & MAY: THE LONELY HOUR by Christopher Fowler (Bantam). Among the column's most favored favorites, the witty, borderline-wacky Peculiar Crimes Unit series; as always, full value, a big, complex, fully worked-out mystery set in London. That's contemporary London, to be sure, yet the rich history of every bit of this world city is alive in the minds of our two coppers, and that knowledge is often as valuable to them as their contemporary skills.
THE BOOK OF SCIENCE AND ANTIQUITIES by Thomas Keneally (Atria). No, it isn't, it's a novel, just like thirty-some others by this great storyteller. Some of his output is set in distinct historical periods other than our own (or even his rather greater own), but this one is contemporary—well, except for the part set in prehistory. His voice grows only more distinctive, his command remains firm.
THE WICKED REDHEAD by Beatriz Williams (Morrow). Paperback reprint of last year's second novel in Williams's Wicked City series, each set, in her signature style, in two different periods, both chiefly in the really not all that wicked city of New York. Of which Williams clearly knows especially well the upper social reaches. Her readers won't have needed the column to tell them (last year or now, presumably), but let this be a reminder: she's stretching out, now, over two full-length novels, and more to come. (This one concludes with the full first chapter of the coming third novel.)
GUILTY NOT GUILTY: A DICK FRANCIS NOVEL by Felix Francis (Putnam). Yet another new novel in a successor series with a loyal readership—but in this case, Dick Francis's son and collaborator on his father's last few novels is finding a voice of his own. It's perfectly in harmony with his immortal father's voice, of course, still in the vividly evoked world of British horse racing, still presenting us with characters we enjoy identifying with and following—yet taking us to places his father never reached.
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