Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Nevermore: Good Cop, Mobituaries, On the Plain of Snakes, Ellen Foster, Last Three Miles

Reported by Jeanne
 Cover image for The good cop

Nevermore opened with The Good Cop by Peter Steiner, a mystery set in 1920s Munich.  The book depicts a post World War I Germany which is struggling with the aftermath, including rampant inflation, unemployment, and corruption. Things look very bleak; but there is a new politician whose star is on the rise:  Adolf Hitler.  This is the backdrop against which policeman Willi Geismeier is called to investigate the bombing of a newspaper office and soon finds that asking questions may cost him his job— and maybe his life.   Our reader said that this was one of those books that she just couldn’t put down and recommended it highly.
Cover image for Mobituaries : great lives worth reliving
Mobituaries by Mo Rocca continues to make the rounds and remains a favorite.  Rocca profiles  both the famous and unknown, but choosing those who have made a difference in the world.  It’s a wonderful mix, and very well written.  It was quickly picked up by another Nevermore member.

Cover image for On the plain of snakes : a Mexican journey
Paul Theroux drove the length of the U.S./Mexican border and then produced the book On the Plain of Snakes, Our reader said this was a hard book, but very interesting.  Theroux examines the lives of the people to the south, learning about their culture, way of life, their hopes, their dreams.  He provides a historical context and presents the views of those most affected, including the changes as some American manufacturing has moved to Mexico.  It’s a fascinating book, and one which gives much food for thought and helps to clarify some of the conflicts at the border.

Cover image for Ellen Foster
The next book was actually a re-read for our club member.  Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons is the story of an eleven year old girl growing up in an abusive home. The story is told through the child’s point of view as she struggles to beat the odds.  It’s a “sad little book” but Ellen is a wonderful character, a sweet child faced with terrible conditions, and well worth the second reading in preparation for reading the sequel. The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster picks up when Ellen is fifteen and living in a foster home. She struggles with adolescence and writes poetry to earn money.  Our reviewer didn’t think this second book was quite as good as the first and struggled with some of the stylistic choices— the absence of quotation marks, for example, and some interesting syntax.  She highly recommends the first and while she was glad she read the second, she doesn’t think it is a “must read.”

 Cover image for The last three miles : politics, murder and the construction of America's first superhighway
Finally, The Last Three Miles:  Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway by Steven Hart is the true story of the construction of New Jersey’s Pulaski Skyway in the early 1930s.  It proved to be a contentious project, with politics and labor going head to head in a power struggle that eventually turned violent.  It’s local politics, money, power, and greed, and it is a great book, according to our reporter.

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