Book picks as published in the June 12, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.
A Brightness long ago : a novel
By Guy Gavriel Kay
A masterful new novel set in a vivid world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offering an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives come together through destiny, love, and ambition. Unforgettable figures include a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a powerful religious leader more decadent than devout; and, two larger-than-life mercenary commanders.
Bina : a novel of warnings
By Anakana Schofield
Bina, a plain-spoken older Irishwoman, is under police surveillance for a crime considered so unspeakable that she cannot refer to it directly upon threat of immediate arrest. As a last resort, Bina has taken to her bed to write out her own version of her story. Slowly, we piece together the truth: at the heart of this book is a deliberate act of merciful euthanasia that brings with it an awful burden.
NATURAL CAUSES THE BOOK OF SOULS HANGMAN’S SONG
Reading Oswald’s Inspector Tony McLean series is like eating peanuts – you can’t stop at just one. I read the first three back-to-back, like a chain smoker lighting the cigarette in her hand with the one between her lips. He’s a likeable guy is Tony McLean. He’s intuitive, doesn’t cut corners, and goes the extra mile, much to the chagrin of his boss, DS Duguid (a.k.a. “Dagwood” by his officers). But McLean is no “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” kind of guy. He gives as good as he gets and meets Duguid’s scorn with pragmatism and common sense – certain to irritate the DS even more.
We are aware that McLean has suffered a loss as he makes oblique references to his girlfriend, Kirsty, while investigating the apparent ritual killing of a young woman in Natural Causes. However it’s only while he’s investigating this death that we truly understand the magnitude of his loss. This young woman appears to have been murdered many years before and as Edinburgh is bathed in blood with a new series of killings of young women, McLean believes that they are all connected. When McLean meets Madame Rose (I like to think of her/him as a rather large Medium), she poses the possibility that a supernatural force could be at work in these killings. This hint of the occult, spiritualism and the supernatural plays a role in all of Oswald’s novels.
In The Book of Souls, we finally find out what happened to McLean’s girlfriend, Kirsty, (no spoilers here). The body of a young woman, brutally murdered is found in Edinburgh, echoing ten similar murders of young women twelve years previously. The murderer, known as the Christmas killer (for the time of year that he committed these heinous acts), was convicted and sent to prison. But the Christmas killer has been murdered by a fellow prisoner.
So did they get the wrong man or is someone out there replicating the murders?
When McLean attends the suicide of a young man by hanging, the whole scene seems “off” to him. When two other men are found hanged, supposedly having committed suicide, McLean begins to investigate the three deaths as anything but suicide. As in The Book of Souls, Madame Rose plays a significant role in Oswald’s The Hangman’s Song. And like the other two novels, McLean isn’t just saddled with one case at a time. He’s also investigating a prostitution and human trafficking ring, leaving the poor guy little time for sleep or even a cup of tea. And all around this case is the whiff of something sinister and unexplained, leaving everyone involved, vulnerable and in danger.
Book picks as published in the June 5, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.
The Red address book : a novel
By Sofia Lundberg
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation, and the surprises in life that can await even the oldest among us.
Late-life love : a memoir
By Susan Gubar
On Susan Gubar’s seventieth birthday, she receives a beautiful ring from her husband, a gift that startles her into an appreciation of their luck. As she contemplates their sustaining relationship, Susan considers how older lovers differ from their youthful counterparts–and from ageist stereotypes. A memoir proving that love and desire have no expiration date, Late-Life Love is a retort to negative valuations of old age.
Book picks as published in the May 29, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.
The Club : a novel
By Takis Wurger
Hans’s English aunt Alex will ensure his application to Cambridge University is accepted, but in return he must help her investigate an elite university club of young aristocrats and wealthy social climbers, the Pitt Club. As Hans makes his best efforts to prove club material, he is drawn into a world of extravagance, debauchery, and macho solidarity. But there are dangerous secrets in the club’s history.
Boy swallows Universe : a novel
By Trent Dalton
This highly praised Australian debut novel is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be.Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim–a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes–who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.
Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, Community Policing detectives, are sent to the scene of a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec. Acting as liaisons with the community, they are there to help temper the fear of the residents while dealing with a vicious campaign of racism which has been launched on social media and exploited by a right-wing radio host. So many fingers are pointing in so many different directions. Who are the perpetrators of this horrific crime? And who is shadowing Khattack, watching and knowing his every move? Does it have anything to do with the shooting, or is it something personal?
Khan has brought to the page a story that we have seen played out in far too many communities around the world (most recently in Christchurch, New Zealand). Her depiction of the events in this novel are every bit as gripping, heart-wrenching, and horrifying as those we’ve seen on TV on the evening news.
Such violence can only create greater rifts between the different factions in this community, and while Esa and Rachel work to prevent further escalation of these rifts, their relationship as partners is put to the test.
This is by far, Khan’s best book yet in this series.