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June 19, 2020

George Ernsberger - Columnist
Posted 6/19/20

THE MOUNTAINS WILD by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur). Beautifully written, realistic first mystery of a series. Set in New York and Dublin, told in first person by an Irish-American police detective …

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June 19, 2020

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THE MOUNTAINS WILD by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur). Beautifully written, realistic first mystery of a series. Set in New York and Dublin, told in first person by an Irish-American police detective with live connections to the auld sod—but that half-jocular cliché is never to be found in this book; I wasn't kidding when I said, “beautifully written.” There's a feathery-light touch of formality in her, talk, convincingly cop, though it is, that I can't help “hearing” as a touch of Ireland. I may even be imagining it—not the lightness or the clarity, but the Irishness. It's a strong mystery (of the “procedural” subcategory)—but also, you'll want to spend time with this character, visit her Ireland with her.

FAMILY OF ORIGIN by CJ Hauser (Anchor). Reprint of last year's charming, both distinctive and distinguished novel about families, but also, seriously and attentively about science and scientists. It stops just short of science fiction, actually. The extraordinary . . . lot, may be the word—they aren't a generation, yet—the bunch of young literary novelists we have now are fearless in the choices they make of settings and casts, unafraid, too, of love and happiness but then, as serious writers always have been, unafraid of unhappiness, too. Meet another one, here, if you haven't.

DON'T TURN AROUND by Jessica Barry (Harper). Barry is a pure thriller writer, action, chases, centered on women (last year's excellent FREEFALL started with a woman walking away from a plane crash in a wilderness). A reviewer of this one called up films: Stephen Spielberg's “Duel” (a car-and-truck highway chase movie made for commercial, network TV), which was terrific, launched his career; and also “Thelma & Louise,” though these two women, unlike those two, barely know each other (the set-up is neatly accomplished, and easy to accept), so when they seem to be stalked by very bad people in another car, neither knows which is the real target. The setting is the very, very big American southwest, at night, on the road. . . . You won't put it down.

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