Joanne’s Mystery Picks

nature of the beastThe Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

Every time I pick up a new Louise Penny novel, I feel like I’ve come home: home to familiar characters; home to Olivier’s bistro with apple and parsnip soup; home to the B&B with luscious, deep eiderdowns on the beds. And now Three Pines is home to someone else, too: Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie. When tragedy strikes and their tranquil peace is disrupted, they discover that “Evil” has also taken up residence in their community.

There follows a tale of misguided loyalties, secrets kept for too long, and people who are not whom they appear to be. In the capacity as an advisor to Jean-Guy and Chief Inspector Isabelle Lacoste, Gamache begins to unwind this tangled tale and wonders, if he had acted sooner, if he could have prevented the events that then followed.

In this novel, Penny shows us how the past can affect every day of one’s present, and she does it admirably.

Science Fiction Picks

This month I went for two new science fiction titles.

Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

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Artemis Awakening is the start of a new series by New York Times bestseller Jane Lindskold. The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had “bested” the environment.

The Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world. Stranded on Artemis after crashing his ship, he encounters the Huntress Adara and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey with her will lead Dane to discover the planet’s secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind.

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

22238149In our rapidly changing world of social media, everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson’s The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies: genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one’s life. It’s like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren’t just like you, and they aren’t just people who are likely to like you. They’re also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life, creative, interpersonal, even financial.

At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see whether he qualifies for any of the Affinities and finds that he’s a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It’s utopian–at first. His problems resolve themselves as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another, to helping him, but as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, and of all the institutions of the old world; then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war with one another.

Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

Murder HseThe large house on the beach front in Bridgehampton has an infamous history. When Noah was young, an elderly couple died in a fire that destroyed the building. Investigators had no explanation for what happened, and many believe it was no accident. Rebuilt after the fire, the gorgeous, ocean-front property is still known by locals as The Murder House.

Now, sixteen years later, a powerful Hollywood player and his mistress are found dead in The Murder House—and the police unearth proof that the couple is undeniably linked to Noah’s past. To prove his innocence, Noah must uncover the house’s dark secrets—and reveal his own.

While you are waiting for your copy of Murder House, why not try these fast-paced suspense stories with clever plot twists.