OCTOBER 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
2013

Rowling's adult fiction differs quite a lot from her Harry Potter books in that her imagination is constrained by the realities of the muggle world. This second offering, written under a nom de plume, is lighter than A Casual Vacancy, her first.  A who dunnit in the way of Dashiell Hammet, the characters are appealing and the writing is quicker.

The story centers on the suicide or perhaps murder of Lulu Landry, a glamorous model who has fallen from her penthouse balcony in a posh section of London. On the case is Cormorant Strike, a former military man and now down-on-his luck private investigator. His plucky assistant, Robin, starts as an office temp but quickly proves herself useful to his work.

Together they take the case which has been brought to them by Lulu's bereaved brother John Barstow. The characters are decent and the book is a comfortable read. Good for bed time and flight time.  The leads of Cormoran and Robin are ripe for a series of books and perhaps the screen, which Rowling certainly knows how to do.

JK Rowling is the phenomenally best-selling author of the Harry Potter series of books about wizards. Cuckoo's Calling is her second adult novel.

Same Shelf:
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

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    Murder in Mesopotamia
    Agatha Christie
    1936

    Who doesn't know Agatha Christie? She is the most widely published author of all time, only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare.  Her books are a reliable read -- something to read on a plane, before bed and just to settle in to pass a rainy afternoon.

    I just read Murder in Mesopotamia, a Hercule Poirot mystery, which I picked up in the shared library in my building.  The setting is Iraq at an archeological dig that is run by a well-known archeologist.  Dr. Leidner has recently married, and his lovely new wife has disrupted the team's fraternal culture.  She is known to need attention and is dismissed as being hysterical when she reports that someone is stalking and threatening her.

    The story is told from the point-of-view of a visiting nurse, who has been hired to soothe Mrs. Leidner.  Suffice to say that Mrs. Leidner is soon found dead, and Hercule Poirot is called in to consult.

    He is a great character, lulling people into underestimating him as he shrewdly picks through the evidence.  Much liked the beloved Miss Marple, this dismissal often traps the killers into outraged confessions.

    There is a bit of formula, but there is something to be said for some 80 plus stories that have been a been a consistent trove for readers, TV networks and the stage for more than 80 years.

    Agatha Christie's first novel, The Murder in the Vicarage, was published in 1930. The Mousetrap, her most famous play, is one of the longest running productions ever made.  She died in 1976. 

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    The Lost Dogs
    by Jim Gorant

     

    It’s so easy to just hate pit bulls.  It’s no different from judging people you don’t know based on false or malicious reports.   In The Lost Dogs, Jim Gorant’s account of the illegal Michael Vick dog-fighting operation, what begins as an investigative thriller evolves into a tale of rescue and redemption.  The eponymous misunderstood creatures bred for an abbreviated and violent existence ultimately become rehabilitated into adoptable pets or therapy dogs for sick children or elderly patients. 

    The team of men and women who come together to shut down the vicious Bad Newz Kennels operation bring its culprits to justice and save rather than destroy the four-legged collateral damage.  It is an inspiring story of man’s humanity toward man’s best friend in the wake of such extreme animal cruelty.  In the process, it shatters misconceptions we’ve been trained to believe about the American Pit Bull Terrier.

    This non-fiction report is an expanded version of a cover story that originally appeared in Sports Illustrated and reads like a journalistic suspense story.  While its appeal is likely to begin with dog enthusiasts, its lessons are pertinent to all who appreciate chronicles of heroism and hope.

    This review was contributed by Michael Pollack of New York whose family includes two rescue dogs.  The blog below , was forwarded to us by Jennifer Perdelwitz who works with Michael. 

    Same Shelf:  The Hard Life of a Pit-Bull by Katie Pollack - Perspectives

     

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    The Silent Wife 
    A.S.A.  Harrison
    2013

    A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers

    Harrison's novel is the latest entry into the Gone Girl genre of first person stories about marriages gone awry. This story focuses on Jodi and her "husband" Todd. They have never married officially, but they have been together for 20 years. Todd has apparently always cheated, but he has kept it quiet until his most recent conquest, Natasha. Without giving away to much of the plot, suffice to say, Todd doesn't make it through to the end of the story. There are enough little twists that keep the reader engaged. And, I was surprised when the book ended, almost thought there could be more to the story.

    Jodi is a psychologist with her own take on the profession. Todd is a builder and anyway familiar with Chicago will enjoy the tour of the neighborhoods and walks along the lakefront.

    This A.S.A. Harrison's first novel. She has written four non-fiction works.  She died recently while working on her next thriller.

    Same shelf
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn