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June 11, 2021

George Ernsberger - Columnist
Posted 6/11/21

THE UGLY CRY: A MEMOIR by Danielle Henderson (Viking). An excellent title for a book full of rage and sorrow and tenderness and, overlying it all, pride and satisfaction, and not so much high hopes …

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June 11, 2021

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THE UGLY CRY: A MEMOIR by Danielle Henderson (Viking). An excellent title for a book full of rage and sorrow and tenderness and, overlying it all, pride and satisfaction, and not so much high hopes as confident expectations. An inspiring person, Henderson, witty and strong-minded. Readers with entirely conventional family backgrounds (whatever that might be) and indeed in all sorts of family structures, will have no trouble enjoying this lively, sharp-tongued but warmhearted memoir, by a real writer for sure, and will like and enjoy her company so much that they might not even notice that they're learning something about families: each one a plot of earth of its own unique shape, many more than one of which will support growth and strength very well.

THE BODY DOUBLE by Emily Beyda (Anchor). Paperback reprint of last year's creepy, unsettling but finally very satisfying thriller about a withdrawn, rather spooky movie star and the look-alike who is drawn ever deeper into her world, employed as her “body double” not for action scenes in movies but for real life. Our central figure is the double, and her ever-increasing involvement in the star's life is our principal point of view, but everybody's motives, here, become ever more mysterious and intriguing. Atmosphere is convincing and enveloping; this might once have been a first-rate Hitchcock movie,

THE BULLET by Iris Johansen (Grand Central). Eve Duncan (#27 of this series) and Joe Quinn, of course; I guess I couldn't support a claim that they're getting better all the time, but they certainly hold up. Joe's ex-wife features in, not for the first time but more present and deeply realized than I can remember from before. This series seems unlikely ever to get old; Johansen never coasts.

CASTLE SHADE by Laurie R. King (Bantam). An especially strong entry in the intelligent, original but respectful Sherlock-offshoot series featuring a fairly distinctive Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. The castle, convincingly evoked, is in Romania, which might prompt the thought of vampires (or why have it there, at all?). Sherlock is present and a participant in this one, as he isn't always; it's Mary's series, more than his, though it's always Sherlockian in sensibility. Their relationship is, indeed, given more than minimal attention—some new depth is even revealed—as the mystery proceeds apace. This already entertaining series gets still more interesting.

THE LAST GOODBYE by Fiona Lucas (Morrow). Lucas is known for romantic comedies, but this lovely novel, though it's delightful, isn't a comedy. It's romantic, all right, and it has a happy ending, you can rely on that (so comic in the classical sense, right?) but heartfelt, no joke. Not that there's anything wrong with jokes.

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