Monday, March 24, 2014

The Midnight Witch-Paula Brackston

The Midnight Witch Paula Brackston Dunne, Mar 25 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9781250006080 In 1913 London, Lady Lilith Montgomery watches sadly as her late father is lowered into the ground. She knows her opium using brother Freddie has become the Duke of Radnor, but she inherited her dad’s other title Morningstar the Lazarus Coven Head Witch though only twenty-one and feeling dreadfully unready for the responsibility. Her fiancé Louis Harcourt the witch renews his vow to die if need be to keep her safe and to help her protect the Elixir of Life from adversarial sorcerers especially the Sentinels necromancers. As WWI explodes, Louis becomes despondent when a distracted Lilith falls in love with artist Bram Cardale; leading to each failing to defend their prime security mission in life; leaving the Great Secret in jeopardy which has not happened in generations. The latest Paula Brackston’s bewitching drama (see Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch) is an entertaining WWI paranormal historical. Although alone in many respects, Lilith embraces the liberating radical changes that “the war to end all wars” wrought on English society. The engaging storyline contains some reiteration of Edwardian upper class behavior; however treks such as to war-torn Uganda provide freshness to the tale. Fans will appreciate The Midnight Witch as she hopes to follow her heart while also insuring the Elixir remains safe from those who would abuse it for personal gain. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Word Exchange-Alena Graedon

The Word Exchange Alena Graedon Doubleday, Apr 8 2014, $26.95 ISBN: 9780385537650 In Manhattan Chief Editor of the anachronistic North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL) Douglas Samuel Johnson grieves the death of the written word as the demise of civilization. Instead of obsolete books, love letters, maps and photos, Meme devices are commonly used and the Synchronic company controls linguistics via their gadgets and the Word Exchange. Still Doug diligently finishes a twenty-six year old project with the third edition of the dictionary about to come out probably to the “Sound of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel); unlike the second version back in the antiquated nineties receiving critical acclaim. At the same time of Doug’s latest triumph, his wife Vera is divorcing him. Doug gives his beloved daughter Anana pills marked as “Alice” to be used only if she is in peril before he vanishes. Ana and her NADAL colleague Bart search for her father, which takes them dangerously behind the curtain of Synchronic's brilliant insidious marketing wizardry. They also meet the rebellious Diachronic Society and eventually reach the ancient Holy Grail of language the Oxford English Dictionary office. However, they appear too late to prevent the pandemic “word flu” as the end of language without gadgets denotes the end of life (past, present and future) as we knew it. Extrapolating current communication technological trends (for instance, from print to electronic) into the next century, Alena Graedon provides a powerful dark dystopian future. The exciting storyline contains a strong message echoing Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” so be wary of the technological-industrial-government complex controlling thought through gizmos. Fans will appreciate the misadventures of Ana and Doug as they fall through the rabbit hole into a world which held the wake for obsolete print. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Dead of Summer-Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator)

The Dead of Summer Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator) Stockholm Text, Mar 11 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9789187173981 Two boys playing in the water off Gotland Island’s Sudersand Beach find a corpse floating nearby. The victim did not drown, but instead was shot several times in the abdomen and once in the head. While DCI Anders Knutas vacations with his family for two weeks in Denmark, Assistant DCI Karin Jacobssen heads the investigation; but calls her boss to inform him of the murder as he required of her. Over the objection of his wife Lina and though he trusts his assistant, bored workaholic Anders uses the murder as an excuse to leave his family in Denmark to return to Gotland to lead the inquiry. Though diligently working the inquiry, the police uncover nothing while neither does reporter Johan Berg. At the same time, a Russian tanker arrives with a crew known for illegalities and soon afterward, a second homicide occurs. Having made no progress on the first murder, Knutas seeks the connection between the two victims as the means to solving the case. Overall the fifth Gotland Swedish police procedural (see Killer's Art, Unspoken, Unseen and The Inner Circle) is an enjoyable whodunit. Much of the storyline focuses on the relationships between the key players (Johan with Emma, their daughter and his photographer; and Karin with Knutas) rather than on the investigation. When the fascinating case takes front and center; the police and the journalist are stymied on solving the homicides; while fans ironically know much more. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 2, 2014

You Should Have Known-Jean Hanff Korelitz

You Should Have Known Jean Hanff Korelitz Grand Central, Mar 18 2014, $26.00 ISBN: 9781455599493 In New York, psychologist Grace Reinhart Sachs loves her life as she enjoys her working with her patients, and adores her pediatric physician husband Jonathan and their son Henry. Wanting nothing to change, Grace still lives in the same apartment she resided in as a child and sends Henry to her elementary school alma mater. Based on her therapy sessions with female patients in denial until slapped in the face with the truth, Grace takes a chance on a new project by writing You Should Have Known; a self-help book encouraging women to treat selecting a life partner with a lot more analysis than picking candy bars. Ironically when Grace met Jonathan, she knew at first sight he was her soul mate without any further thought. However, just before the release of her book, Jonathan vanishes as Grace’s perfect life implodes with a deadly scandal in which her paragon mate is at the center. You Should Have Known is an intriguing character study that looks deeply into a seemingly perfect family before, during and after “… the statue on the pedestal comes crumbling to the ground” (Blessed Is The Rain by Tony Romeo and Brooklyn Bridge). The insightful storyline focuses on the Admissions to herself by the successful therapist and wife-mother that she should have known while coping with the shattering of her loving idealistic façade. Harriet Klausner