A grab bag of books for the summer
Summer is around the corner — here are a few books to read as you lounge in the sun
In Fog, Rana Bose has written a literary thriller that tells a complicated story. There is a connection between the death of a soldier in Afghanistan and a plane crash that took place in Trois-Pistoles, Que., years earlier. Friends of the soldier, one of whom is an actor, do their best to solve the puzzle. The strength of the novel lies in the fact that the reader not only follows the mystery, but also the characters' stories. Bose's experience as a playwright shines through in the dialogue.
In Shadow Puppet, private investigator Dan Sharp is hired to look into the disappearance of a man named Nabil. But it soon becomes a murder investigation, involving a number of missing men. Dan is alone in his belief that the crimes aren't just random acts of violence, but are, in fact, hate crimes. In order to bring the case to resolution, Sharp finds himself exploring the sex industry in Toronto. Lambda Award-winning author Jeffrey Round has created an engrossing set of characters in this ripped-from-the-headlines yarn.
The Moroccan Girl
The protagonist of Charles Cumming's The Moroccan Girl is a writer named Kit Carradine. He is enlisted by a shadowy figure, ostensibly a member of Britain's spy agency, to locate Lara Bartok, a member of the (fictional) radical group Resurrection. Carradine is on his way to a writers' conference in Morocco where, it is believed, Bartok will be in attendance. But while searching for Bartok, Carradine discovers that his supposed allies may be his adversaries and vice versa. The novel is a taut page-turner.
The Perfect Girlfriend
Juliette deems herself to be a perfect mate to her boyfriend in the novel The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton. However, Juliette is alone in this estimation. Hamilton's first novel fits well in the growing sub-genre called domestic thrillers. Juliette and the love of her life, Nate, both work in the airline industry and the author's experience as a flight attendant gives the novel a strong sense of verisimilitude. Unlike other novels in this genre, The Perfect Girlfriend is as much a morality tale as it is a thriller.
Only Pretty Damned
First-time novelist Niall Howell has created a tightly written noir novel, Only Pretty Damned. The novel is set in Rowland's World Class Circus as it tours the southwest U.S. The narrator is Toby, a clown who had previously been part of a trapeze act and the star of the circus. The novel opens with the death of a thoroughly unpleasant character, compared to "sucking vinegar from a mangy sponge." Over the course of the novel the reader is treated to a variety of fascinating characters and circus mayhem.
Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif has been compared to Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Like Catch 22, Red Birds is a political satire that takes on America at war. In this novel, Major Ellie crash lands in the middle of the desert in a nameless Mideast country. He wanders around for eight days until he comes on the refugee camp he had been sent to bomb. There he meets and falls in with Momo, a teenager, and his dog, Mutt. The story is told in alternate chapters by Ellie, Momo and Mutt. The satire is always sharp and biting.