Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nevermore: Buried Angels, Heroes, Giants, Psychopaths, and More!

Come Saturday by Doris Musick came up again at Nevermore.  This novel by a local author is a fictionalized account of a true disaster that occurred at Saltville mill.  The local history and local color have made this book a real winner for our readers.

The audio version of Hero at Large by Janet Evanovich received a “Yuck!” from our reader who didn’t even finish it.  This was one of the screwball romance books that Evanovich wrote before coming up with the extremely popular Stephanie Plum series.  In fact, Stephanie is so popular that the publisher started re-releasing her older titles in hopes of enticing the Plum fans.  In this case, it didn’t work.

On the other hand, Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon was quite a hit!  Helen has been having an affair with her boss for quite some time when he does the unexpected:  he actually leaves his wife for Helen.  Unfortunately, Helen soon finds that there’s a vast difference between wanting and having, and is soon scheming to find a way to get Matthew go back to his wife.  This is a very funny debut novel.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett was another “didn’t finish” for a reader.  It’s the story of five different families during the start of the 20th century: Russian, English, Welsh, American, and German, all of whom have to cope with massive social and cultural changes.  There were just too many characters for our reader to keep up with.

A second book by Follett fared better: Whiteout is a thriller set in a wintery Scotland where some samples of a deadly virus have gone missing from a medical laboratory.  Ex-policewoman Toni Gallo is now head of security for the lab, and she’s desperate to find the missing samples.  A blizzard traps Gallo and the suspects, providing twists and turns and nail-biting suspense.

Another winner was Juliet by Anne Fortiner in which a young woman inherits a key which takes her on a journey to unravel an old mystery that extends back to the time of Romeo and Juilet.  Our reader said it was a wonderful blend of history, mystery, and romance, and she highly recommends it.

The first non-fiction title this time was Dirty Chick:  Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy.   Murphy and her husband moved from San Francisco to New Zealand after their son developed some health problems.  The idea was to become farmers and get closer to nature.  It soon became apparent that farming was a lot harder and messier than they’d anticipated.  The book is mostly about the ways in which they overcame the various problems, according to our reader, and it was also funnier than she had expected.  She recommends it.

Next up was The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, in which the author examines the diagnosis of psychopathy. Ronson, a British journalist and author of Men Who Stare at Goats, talks with psychologists, neurologists, and people identified as psychopaths.  Our reader found the book to be very interesting, but ended it feeling that psychopaths are largely defined by subjective means.  One person can be diagnosed as a psychopath by one doctor might be considered perfectly normal by another.  Our reader said that he concluded that this is not hard science, and there can be no reproducible results from any of the testing.

Finally, there was  Buried Angels  by Camilla Lackberg. In 1974, a family disappears from their home on an island, leaving behind a young daughter. Flash forward some decades and the child, now an adult, returns to the old home place and reopens the mystery.   Our reader enjoyed the book, saying that it held her interest and had a complex plot, but did bemoan the number of characters.  Lackberg is a Scandinavian mystery writer as is Karin Fossum.  The consensus was that Fossum’s books take a more direct tact, which most of our readers like a lot.

(Long time readers may remember the incomparable Nancy W.'s review of Ronson's previous book.  If not, click on the link above to enjoy!)

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