I've read every Harlan Coben book--and that's a lot of books. I usually read them the day they are published, but I made myself wait till I could getI've read every Harlan Coben book--and that's a lot of books. I usually read them the day they are published, but I made myself wait till I could get it from the library.
Years ago, I stopped buying his books because I read them so quickly (within hours) that it makes no monetary sense. I'm a fast reader, but for some reason, I read his books more quickly than anyone else's, something about the language/style that I grok in a completely holistic way so there's no interfering filter. (It helps that his pacing is rapid-fire, of course.)
Despite the familiarity, Coben always includes one twist that floors me. This particular standalone is no exception. It begins with the protagonist, former military wunderkind Maya, at the funeral of her murdered husband, Joe. Tragedy has been following Maya for a while; her sister had been tortured and murdered a short while before. At least she has Lily, her beloved daughter, and Joe's supportive, outrageously wealthy family on her side.
But then she sees her dead husband on the Nanny-Cam, date-stamped after his supposed death, and she must track that mystery down--especially as the bullet from the gun that supposedly killed her husband also killed her sister.
If you like Coben, or modern mysteries that move at the speed of light despite being packed with twists and turns, highly recommended.
Extra points if you like Bruce Springsteen. Coben often drops his name in his novels, and does so charmingly in this one. ...more
I'm a big fan of Ms. Jackson's, and her latest, The Opposite of Everyone may be my favorite book of hers yet.
The protagonist, Paula Vauss, appears seI'm a big fan of Ms. Jackson's, and her latest, The Opposite of Everyone may be my favorite book of hers yet.
The protagonist, Paula Vauss, appears semi-prominently in Jackson's last novel, Someone Else's Love Story, the best friend of a major character. Here she is the star, as befitting someone named for the Goddess Kali, but renamed more prosaically by a parochial grandmother. Kai, Paula's mother, is an artist, a dreamer, and a grifter, and, as such, Paula's early years are fairly unstable and involve a stint in foster care.
The book opens on the adult, hard-assed and cynical divorce lawyer Paula, who has been supporting her mother for years, although they have no contact other than the monthly check that has increased at the same progression as Paula's career ascendance. Like her initial namesake, Kali, Paula is a true warrior and what she razes stays razed. She doubts that she has the skills or inclination to raise anything, however; yet when she discovers that her dead mother has left an unknown sibling alone in the world, she progresses in unimaginable ways and develops a few more mundane super-powers.
That sounds unbearably trite and wholesome, but Paula's narrative voice is neither. It is much like a modern Kali-Ma's would be--direct, clever, killingly funny, and slightly caustic. Jackson is an author who writes a great story, with frequent surprises that never ring false despite their unexpectedness. However, her genius is in her rich, real characters and their hard-won victories that not just make you root for them with intensity, but make you think, feel, hurt, and heal.
I have long held Cory Booker in the highest esteem, so I was eager to read anything he wrote. This book, like President Obama's The Audacity of Hope,I have long held Cory Booker in the highest esteem, so I was eager to read anything he wrote. This book, like President Obama's The Audacity of Hope, addresses some of the political issues that are dear to Booker's heart--helping people to avoid prison in the first place, assisting prisoners with employment and other forms of assistance to avoid recidivism, and activist ecology. And just as the President does in his book, Booker tries to use real life examples to make his points, but he isn't as effective in doing so or of holding a reader's attention.
Some of his prison statistics were startling even to me, someone who has worked in social services, and as the Liberal Queen, I agreed with everything he had to say. But unlike The Audacity of Hope, the overuse of sociological quotations occasionally made my eyes glaze over. Booker introduces us to various Newark social activists from whom he learned so much, and his admiration and affection for these people is real--these personal stories are, to me, the best part of the book. But he doesn't connect the stories to situations in quite the way President Obama does.
If it seems I am comparing the books too much, it is because I hope that one of Cory Booker's motivations in writing this book is to follow in the President's political footsteps. I have high hopes for Senator Booker--but he is not the exquisite writer my President is....more