Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (June 2012)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
Goldman Sachs analyst Cristina Alger has turned her experience into a novel about a Ponzi scheme that oozes lifestyles of the rich and famous. Paul Ross, newly unemployed, takes a job working for his very wealthy father-in-law at the family investment firm. When one of the firm's fund managers commits suicide, there are rumors of an SEC investigation and indeed millions of dollars are unaccounted for. Paul is unwittingly caught between saving himself or saving the family business and his adopted lifestyle.
During Argentina's Dirty War of the 1970s and 80s, thousands of citizens became "the disappeared." Perla grew up a child of privilege, but learned that her military father was responsible for some of those disappearances. As a college student, she is struggling with her feelings about her parents when a mysterious waterlogged specter appears in her living room. As Perla and the apparition spend time together, each of them comes to realize what this manifestation must mean. Unsettling and haunting, but beautifully told.
Considered to be one of the masters of postmodern short fiction, Englander has selected 8 stories to be savored. As in his previous collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, his subject is Jewish identity. Questions arise as to whether it is important to live in Israel; whether orthodox practice makes you more Jewish; who would shelter the Jews in a Holocaust now. "What we talk about when we talk about Englander's collection turns out to be survival and the difficult, sometimes awful, sometimes touching, choices people make..."
The charming tale of the Meisenheimers spans three generations, beginning with Frederick and Jette's courtship in Germany and subsequent immigration to the US. Whimsical happenstance plants the couple in Beatrice, Missouri where Frederick's presence in the local bar leads to ownership and Prohibition turns the bar into a restaurant. Food and music are recurring themes throughout the years in a story narrated by one of the couple's grandsons who performs in a fraternal barbershop quartet.
The best-selling author of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer takes on the birth of Jesus in this irreverent tale of the Magi which has already been sold for movie rights to Warner Brothers. In Graham-Smith's nativity tale, the three wise guys are thieves who escaped Herod's prison and imminent death. The swashbuckling story centers around Balthazar, better known as the "Antioch Ghost," who is a sort of Robin Hood figure. While his faith is weak, he does have to admit there is something about that baby that he just can't explain.
If you're looking for a Lizsbeth Salander type heroine who knows the grotesque and creepy side of Scandinavian culture, Cassandra Neary may be your girl. This sequel to Generation Loss begins right where that book left off, with Cass wanted for questioning by authorities. Her expertise is useful to an art collector who needs the authenticity of some very disturbing photographs confirmed. Intrigued by the work of a photographer she admires, Cass travels to Finland where evil elves are everywhere.
As the Civil War rages on, the rigors of Southern society are tested. What cannot be tolerated, however, is a disobedient wife who helps slaves escape. So that's how Iris Dunleavy ends up in a lunatic asylum on Sanibel Island where Dr. Cowell is known for his theory that the suffrage movement is overworking women's nervous systems. An odd assortment of inmates present conflicting degrees of madness, but a handsome Confederate soldier is the one to catch Iris' attention. A less familiar perspective of Civil War era society.
In book one of the Dreamblood series, Jemisin introduces a world somewhat similar to an ancient Egypt/Middle East culture. The prime goddess is Hananja, the goddess of dreams. Every night the Gatherers are sent to collect dreams to be transformed into magic that helps keep peace, ease death, and heal pain. Ehiru is one of the most famous Gatherers and is training young apprentice Nijiri when they intercept a political plot that hints of corruption among Hananja's priests and threatens the tranquil society.
Discouraged by the lack of jobs in their fields of study, four college friends decide to do some low-key kidnapping to make some money. They aren't greedy, only keep the victim for a day, and all goes well until they choose a business man whose wife has mob connections. When a previous target contacts the authorities, the criminals are on the run from both the law and the Mafia. This fast paced debut, endorsed by numerous thriller authors, is the beginning of a series featuring the local investigator and the FBI agent.
Although the story may be a mystery featuring a detective and nurse, it's Cincinnati that actually has the starring role in this book. In the second title in the Cincinnati Casebook series (following The Pain Nurse), Talton manages to hit spots all around the Tristate area with three murders, seemingly unrelated but eventually leading to a serial killer on the loose in the Queen City. A very solid police procedural featuring a less physically able cop who uses wits and community resources to solve a case that eventually turns personal.
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