Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nevermore Gets Happy, Happy, Happy, plus The Outcast Dead, Dead of Summer, and Sixth Extinction

The burning question for Nevermore members was, “Did she or didn’t she?”  Read Happy, Happy, Happy:  My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander by Phil Robertston, that is, which had been a challenge from the week before.  The answer was, “No,” but she gave it over thirty pages before she gave up. Every book is not for every reader.

Other books had a more enthusiastic reception.  The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths is the next in the series of Ruth Galloway novels, about a British forensic anthropologist who keeps ending up involved with murders, both current and historical.  Ruth is an appealing character who is happiest when she’s doing her job:  she’s extremely competent and finds her work fascinating.  She’s less comfortable in other situations, seeing herself as awkward both physically and socially.  In this entry, Ruth has uncovered some remains which may be the body of a notorious woman who was executed for murdering children back in the 1800s—a woman Ruth believes may have been innocent.  Meanwhile, DCI Nelson is investigating a case of suspicious infant deaths.  Griffiths’ books are notable for the interesting characters and strong sense of place as well as the plots.

Another mystery with a good review is Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt, another of the “Nordic Noir” Scandinavian crime books which have become so popular following Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. In Jungstedt’s novel a man is brutally shot while out for a jog but there seems to be nothing in his background which could explain why someone would want to kill him.  His wife and children are devastated. Our reader said it was a great page turner, and hard to put down.  This was the first of Jungstedt’s novels that she’d read, but she was very impressed.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, a book which has received a lot of attention lately.  Kolbert points out that “extinction” is a relatively new concept, dating back only to the time of Jefferson. There have been five previous “die-offs” in Earth’s history, the last being the dinosaurs, and she believes that we are in the midst of another.   Further,  this one is notable because it’s due to human factors instead of natural causes.  Not everyone agrees with her, as the reasons for extinctions are complex: there isn’t one single source that scientists can point to as THE cause, but rather a number of factors combined. Kolbert draws on experts from several different disciplines, including geology, botany, and biology, to make her case.  Our readers have found it a fascinating book.

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