Friday, September 30, 2011

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel

Every June the Moses clan gathers on a sprawling Arkansas farm owned by Calla and John Moses. Married for years, with adult children and grandchildren, the couple live a separate existence in the rambling old farmhouse. Calla runs a self serve grocery in the front of the house while John runs an all-night bar out the back. For most family members, the return 'home' is just a quick trip down the road but for Samuel Lake and his wife Willadee, the trek is a sacrifice and one that Samuel does not embrace. With their three children in tow, they make the long trip from what ever small church Samuel is currently serving as minister. The Lake children look upon the reunion as an escape - a week-long reprieve from the expectations of being 'preacher's kids'. This particular summer, Eleven-year-old Swan Lake and her brothers find their visit extended when, during the reunion, John Moses dies and Samuel finds that he has been relieved of his church appointment. The family stays on and in the coming weeks and months they mutually discover much about this place, their family and Samuel's true calling. It is Swan Lake who cleverly lays out the events in Jenny Wingfield's beautiful debut novel. Wingfield's characters are complex, quirky and wonderful people to spend some quality time and who make you wish that you were part of their clan.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Things

Written by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Denmark's premier crime author, this is a fun, fast read. It's the first of his new series featuring Department Q. When detective Carl Morck arrives at a crime scene, shots ring out and one of his partners is killed and the other completely paralyzed. Carl is also shot abut blames himself for his team's condition.

After he recovers from his wound, Carl is selected to be the head of the new Department Q. He is allowed to hire an assistant/cleaner and a Muslim named Assad is hired by "those in charge". Assad is a thoughly likeable character who is a jack of all trades and very interested in crime.

Department Q is assigned cold cases of which there are many. Carl who is suffering from PTSD is content at first to sit, drink coffee and do nothing. But finally a case peaks his interest. Five years earlier a beautiful up and coming politician disappeared from a ferry while traveling with her brain damaged brother. This case is so cold that is seems unlikely to be solved. But when Carl and Assad finally work together, they prove to be a top notch team.

Of the new crop of Scandinavian mysteries, this one is an easy fast read with great characters and a victim to root for. I can hardly wait til the next book comes out.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

With fall being back to school season for many, it's the perfect time for those of us who are no longer students to pursue reading one of the classics that we may have missed in our own student days. The Delphi Morning Book Club is reading Emma, by Jane Austen, this month. In some ways, Emma is like other Austen books in that it focuses on courtship and marriage, social status and manners. But this book's heroine, Emma, is a bit different from Ms. Austen's typical main character. Emma is financially secure and not really interested in marriage for herself--she doesn't need a man for her financial support, which puts her in an enviable position. Emma, however, is interested in marriage when it comes to other couples. She sees herself as a matchmaker, protector, and counselor for a young girl, Harriet Smith, who in turn idolizes her. The entire book is about misinterpretations and misunderstanding concerning who wants to, who should, and who is able to marry whom. It's quite amazing that a book first published in 1816 could be so funny and appealing to modern readers. We have multiple copies of Emma available. Stop by the library to pick one up, and retreat to the 19th century for a while.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Theodore Boone: The Abduction

Theodore Boone is back! When author John Grisham introduced the "Kid Lawyer" last year he suggested that he intended to write a series of juvenile books featuring the 13 year old legal whiz. His purpose; open up his main genre to a younger audience. The pay off: another generation of readers to get turned on to the likes of The Firm & The Pelican Brief as they get older. Perhaps he's onto something.

In this episode, Theo's girlfriend & classmate, April Finnemore, is missing. The entire town of Strattenburg turns out to look for her & is turned upside down as information begins to surface. Distant relative & general reprobate Jack Leeper has coincidentally escaped from prison in California, has been seem in Strattenburg, & has been known to correspond with the eight-grader. Police find in him a perfect suspect. Theo's Uncle Ike offers another choice for the eight-grade boys to focus on: April's rarely seem, washed out musician father.

Action begins with the first sentence of the book: "The Abduction of April Finnemore took place in the dead of night...."& continues page after page. Young adult readers will enjoy it; intermediate readers will, too. In fact, Grisham fans of all ages will like the fast paced stories featuring Theo Boone. Can not wait for the next story starring the whiz teen-aged lawyer.