Viral video opens old wounds in ‘The Hidden Things’

With The Hidden Things (Gallery Books, 2019) Jamie Mason has crafted a solid suspense thriller that is firmly rooted in contemporary culture. It all begins when 14-year-old Carly fends off a would-be attacker who follows her home from school. Their encounter in the front hallway of her family’s home is captured by the surveillance camerasContinue reading “Viral video opens old wounds in ‘The Hidden Things’”

Up in the air

Only Dick Francis could combine horses and air travel in such a fascinating way The most amazing thing about Rat Race, a 1970 mystery written by Dick Francis, is that it isn’t the only horse-racing mystery that Francis set in the world of aviation. Flying Finish, published four years earlier, delved into the world ofContinue reading “Up in the air”

You could look it up

Kory Stamper Shares Her Love For Language in the Delightful ‘Word by Word’ Every last syllable of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (Pantheon Books, 2017) is utterly delightful. You should seek it out and read it immediately. The End. OK, that’s not much of a review. Let’s try again. Kory Stamper is a lexicographerContinue reading “You could look it up”

Big things come in small packages

a family tragedy of the american west Montana 1948 (Milkweek, 2007) is a story of sibling rivalry, the malleability of the criminal justice system when it’s applied to people of color, the internal struggles that we all experience when it feels like the only way to do the right thing is by doing the wrongContinue reading “Big things come in small packages”

Will no one rid me of this troublesome brother-in-law?

Christopher Buckley serves up slapstick political intrigue in ‘The Judge Hunter’ Samuel Pepys has a problem. The incessant diarist of the 17th century has successfully negotiated himself into a position of minor power in the Restoration government of King Charles II after having inconveniently supported Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads in the overthrow of CharlesContinue reading “Will no one rid me of this troublesome brother-in-law?”

Exploring the science of grief

‘Lost and wanted’ is a modern ghost story How are we supposed to feel when we learn of the death of a friend who had slowly drifted out of our day-to-day life? As Nell Freudenberger shows in her latest novel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019), it’s complicated. Helen Clapp and Charlotte “Charlie” Boyce were as closeContinue reading “Exploring the science of grief”

Fairy tales

Naomi Novik makes old stories new again I first got hooked on Naomi Novik’s fantastic (in all senses of the word) writing with His Majesty’s Dragon, an imaginative novel whose plot could most succinctly be described as “The Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.” That book bloomed into an eventual nine-book series; though I read allContinue reading “Fairy tales”

Abe Lincoln had the write stuff

From the start, he needed to overcome internal and external opposition by willful acts of self-definition, the ambitious farm boy autodidact becoming a splitter of words and ideas rather than fence rails. Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer I’m having trouble writing this review because I have so much to say. I triedContinue reading “Abe Lincoln had the write stuff”