Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nevermore: Mississippi, Mortuaries, and Mysteries

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore started things with Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, a thriller set in the heart of rural Mississippi.  During the 1970s, Larry and Silas were friends.  Their worlds were vastly different—Larry was the child of middle-class white parents; Silas was the son of a poor, black single mother—but their unexpected friendship did not last long.  When Larry took a girl to the drive-in and she was never heard from again, Larry’s and Silas’s lives diverged.  Twenty years later, another girl goes missing—and, suddenly, Larry and Silas are brought together again to confront the past.  Our reader Tom Franklin’s novel was a great book.  “It’s a very good, very fast read,” she said and she highly recommended it to her fellow mystery fans.  She noted it was a surprisingly engaging story that delves deep into the psychology of a small Southern town.

Next, Nevermore looked at Down Among the Dead Men:  A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician by Michelle Williams.  When Williams turned thirty, she made an impulsive decision:  she became a mortuary technician.  At times comical and heart-breaking, Down Among the Dead Men is an insightful memoir that explores life and death and the realities of both that morgue technicians explore on a daily basis.  Our reader said Williams’ book was “really very funny,” which she didn’t expect; moreover, it was very interesting.  Williams is an adept writer, making her story accessible yet entertaining.  She also uses wit, humor, and heart to create a memoir that, while the focus is death, isn’t ghastly.  Overall, it was an enjoyable book that our reader recommended to fellow fans of Mary Roach.

In Two Days Gone, a thriller by Randall Silvis, Ryan DeMarco is confronted by a grim and startling mystery:  what causes a man who has everything to suddenly destroy everything he held dear?  Thomas Huston has everything—a brilliant career, a wonderful home, and a family he loves—but then, in a single night, Huston goes missing and his family is found murdered.  DeMarco doesn’t quite believe Huston could have killed his whole family; however, he has no real proof except a half-finished manuscript and a trail of bodies...and a sinking suspicion that nothing is what it seems.  Our reader praised Two Days Gone, saying it was a fantastic page-turner with a gripping story, a macabre murder, and a fascinating detective.  Grim and suspenseful, Two Days Gone was a phenomenal novel that, according to our reader, “always left you guessing.”

Nevermore also picked up The Breakdown by B.A. Paris, bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors.  When Cass decided to take a shortcut home from work, she didn’t expected to come across a woman by the side of the road—and she didn’t expect to later find out that same woman had been murdered.  Since then, she’s been forgetting everything:  where she left her car, if she took her medication, her alarm code and more.  But she hasn’t forgotten one thing:  the woman by the side of the road and the nagging sense of a guilt that she could have saved her.  Our reader said The Breakdown is her favorite book from this year; in fact, she admitted that she loved this book.  Unexpectedly haunting and incredibly gripping, Paris’s latest novel was a fascinating, suspenseful story that left you hoping for the best, suspecting the worst, and wondering who you can trust.

Keeping to our theme of thrillers, Nevermore checked out The Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna Leon, the 25th novel in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery series.  In this latest mystery, Commissario Brunetti finds himself investigating the fifteen year old case of a teenage girl who was thrown into a canal in Venice and left with irreparable brain damage.  Although he hesitates to tackle the case, knowing the statute of limitations has certainly passed, he decides to investigate and see if there really is something to the girl’s case.  Our reader told Nevermore she enjoys reading Donna Leon’s novels, saying it’s like “having a travelogue with a mystery thrown in.”  Incredibly detailed and finely crafted, The Waters of Eternal Youth is both an interesting examination of Venice and a thrilling story of an unsolved crime.

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