All posts by Current Picks

The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill (2011)

As with all of Susan Hill’s mysteries, Chief Detective Simon Serrailer’s investigation is only one part of the story. In The Betrayal of Trust, we see the detective’s emerging love interest and his sister Doctor Cat in her work at the local hospice for those near death along with a sad tale dealing with assisted suicide. The investigation is of a cold case coming to the surface when two skeletons of young girls are found after a flood. Simon uses much skill and discretion in laying this sadness to rest.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (2015)

From the shore, Paris’s floating “book barge” may look like little more than a bookstore, but in reality, it is a literary apothecary where its owner Monsieur Perdu prescribes the right novel for any emotional ailment. Perdu, however, is not so good at treating himself and literally runs away when his heartbreak starts to catch up with him—taking his bookshop with him. Along for the ride is literary boy genius Max Jordan, a bestselling author who doesn’t quite know who he is yet. Stumbling through France’s waterways, the two men go on many small adventures, pick up stray travelers, and learn to heal their emotional bruises, all the while sailing towards the truth of Perdu’s lost love.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a quirky, yet gentle tale for fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared that will warm your heart and suggest a few good books along the way.

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty (2016)

Liane Moriarty weaves an intricate story around three families and a barbecue they attended. The reader is kept guessing about a significant event that occurs at the party, as chapters alternate between the day of the barbecue and the present, several weeks afterward. Bit by bit, the story unravels from multiple perspectives. In the process, many layers of family history and psychological characteristics are revealed in Truly, Madly, Guilty. The barbecue seemed to bring out secrets hidden beneath the surface. Life will never be the same for these characters living in the suburbs of Sydney.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (2014)

Stephen King takes a step back from horror to write a story about Bill Hodges, a retired detective who is haunted by his unsolved cases and believes he has nothing to live for now that he’s off the force. Hodges finds a new sense of purpose after being contacted and taunted by the most notorious killer he failed to catch, Mr. Mercedes. Hodges takes it upon himself to end his retirement and make it his sole priority to bring the killer he failed to catch to justice.

The novel bounces between the perspectives of Bill Hodges and the killer himself during their dangerous game of cat and mouse. This makes the story even more interesting, as getting to understand the mind of Mr. Mercedes and see the world from his point-of-view gives the book a depth that wouldn’t exist if it solely followed Bill Hodges.

The characters in this story are vibrant and full of life, which makes it all the more worrisome as their lives are approached by the ever-looming danger of the Mr. Mercedes killer.

The first novel in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Mr. Mercedes is followed by Finders Keepers and End of Watch.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (2016)

Arthur Pepper has lived a simple, routine, lonely life since his wife, Miriam, passed away a year ago. His children are busy with their own lives, and he is grieving the love of his life. While searching through a wardrobe, Arthur finds his wife’s beautiful gold charm bracelet with a collection of charms. His curiosity leads him from York, England, to Bath, London, and Paris tracking the origin of the bracelet and the significance of each of the charms. His journey takes him out of his comfort zone and leads to adventures; new experiences, such as coming face to face with a tiger; and meeting different people. He discovers a side of his wife of forty years that he never knew and learns about himself in the process. Arthur’s interactions with his nosy widowed neighbor, Bernadette, and her teenage son, Nathan, enhance the story.

Phaedra Patrick’s The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a heartwarming, poignant, and amusing story.

 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012)

I dare you not to fall in love with 10-year-old Auggie Pullman in this sweet, moving story about the power of kindness. Although written for a middle grade audience, Wonder is a book that readers of all ages can savor. R. J. Palacio’s debut novel follows Auggie, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities, through his first year at school: the fifth grade. One of the story’s strengths is that we get multiple points of view: we hear from Auggie, a few of his classmates, and his sister.

Some readers wanted to hear from other characters. A few years after the original novel, the author released Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories. And if you prefer reading the book before the movie, start reading: a November release stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Daveed Diggs, and Jacob Tremblay.

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill (2009)

This is the story of a crime, not a mystery in the whodunit style, but a mystery nonetheless as to why and how it happened. In addition, Susan Hill allows new characters to walk onto the scene and the reader wonders who is this person and how do they fit into the story. As the title suggests, this is a dark tale of child abduction and crazed grief with the thought patterns of those involved clearly laid out by the author. As Ruth Rendell said, The Risk of Darkness is “a stunning tale.” Old friends of Detective Simon Serrailler and his triplet sister Doctor Cat will welcome their interplay throughout the story. Book 3 of this series (set in England).

Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked on a Feline by Kate Leth (2016)

All up-to-date on Marvel Netflix TV shows like Jessica Jones? Want to get into the comics but are too intimidated to dive in? Get your toes wet with Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Volume 1: Hooked on a Feline. The canon is completely separate from the Netflix shows, but still super enjoyable nonetheless. It’s great to see a different side of Jessica’s bestie, Patsy, as well as meet more super friends!

Kate Leth’s comic is ridiculously newcomer-friendly, lighthearted, and all around a good time. For people who do want to dive in further, when the comic refers to other issues, it provides you with the name and the number of the issue it is referencing! Easy peasy! The entire series is available now: check out volumes 2—Don’t Stop Me-Ow— and 3—Careless Whisker(s)— today. Go grab them, kitty-cat!

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith (2017)

Paul Stuart is a food/wine writer with a deadline. His focus is diverted when his live-in girlfriend of four years runs off with her trainer. Escaping to Tuscany sounds like a solution for both problems. The story starts like a madcap adventure in Italy, but develops into a study of humanity with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

Once his transportation issue is resolved, thus the title of the book, Paul is free to explore the beautiful countryside and research local food and wine. His route is definitely not a typical tourist package. Paul has command of the Italian language and quickly makes friends. He serves as a confidant to a few local men and even lends a helping hand in a longtime conflict. During the course of his stay, he entertains three ladies (two from his past and a new love interest). His working vacation may be just what was needed for his personal and professional dilemmas.

Alexander McCall Smith is well known for his long running series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and others, but the standalone novel My Italian Bulldozer stands out as a feel good read.