QUIT LIKE A WOMAN: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker (Dial). Well . . . I'm neither a woman nor an alcoholic. I'd even lost touch with how true it …
QUIT LIKE A WOMAN: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker (Dial). Well . . . I'm neither a woman nor an alcoholic. I'd even lost touch with how true it remains that we're living in a “culture obsessed with alcohol” (but it is true, as it always has been). So—of course—here I am with a confident opinion: Holly Whitaker's way of getting to the point, including the necessary details in a usable order, can be developed, refined, by great editing, but probably can't be learned. Or constructed by mere editors—it has to come naturally. And that not only applies to writing, but also, at her level at least, to living. Her joy in the doing of both is unmistakable, and so is her conviction as to the importance of her message. She is fair to Alcoholics Anonymous, acknowledges its enormous impact over most of a century, even as she is warmly—even at times hotly—assuring her readers that they're right to be uncomfortable with some of its tenets. She's terrific fun even as she's holding your shoulders firmly and saying: drinking isn't living—living's a lot better than that—so quitting isn't dying. It's waking up. You can do it, and you'll be glad you did. She shows you how, too. Just as she isn't hard on AA, she isn't hard on her readers—she saves hard for the makers and promoters of alcoholic drinks. She has plenty of hard for them. Take a stool and have a draft of Holly Whitaker; it'll lift you and never drop you (you've had your last hangover, is what I'm saying).
THIN ICE by Paige Shelton (Minotaur). A veteran writer of “cozy” mysteries strikes out in a new direction, managing a complex setup very deftly and then delivering decidedly uncozy thrills. Shelton's setting is Alaska, and her storytelling embraces with conviction the cold and darkness that implies. This series seems to promise thrillers, not only mysteries, and seems likely to deliver them.
THE PLAYGROUND by Jane Shemilt (Morrow). A very strong domestic thriller with a grip you can feel and won't want to get free of. Shemilt places her three small families in a diverse district of London where a good deal of variety can be found among the young parents on the benches of a playground. When tension and then terror emerge, they can have a variety of sources to be understood and misunderstood.
BLIND SEARCH: A Mercy Carr Mystery by Paula Munier (Minotaur). The second in this promising series; the first, A BORROWING OF BONES, praised highly here a year ago, featured as this one does the retired military dog named Elvis, also recovering, as Mercy is, from tough service. So Mercy and Elvis, not completely recovered from those careers, are still adjusting to each other. Tough, not all hugs and snuggles by any means, but still as warming as it is thrilling.
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