Lush descriptions of stunning scenery combine with an increasing menace in a novel set at an elite fishing lodge in Colorado. The young guide, Jack, is well acquainted with loss, and finds his solace in fly fishing. Assigned to Allison K., a famous singer, they explore the water and grounds near Kingfisher Lodge, eating marvelous meals that include conversations about favorite Japanese haiku. No fishing experience is needed to enjoy the scenery and the pairs’ love of the sport. But no idyll is perfect, and as they explore too far and uncover a sinister plot just beyond the fence, the story becomes a heart-pounding thriller; changing from a readalike for Ivan Doig or Norman Maclean into a book perfect for readers of Robin Cook or Michael Crichton. Absolutely riveting, both gorgeous and frightening. Readers will also enjoy Heller’s companion novel The River, but this novel stands alone in its near future setting.
Patrick O’Hara, a former sitcom star, leaves Palm Springs for Connecticut when his good friend and sister-in-law dies of cancer. Unexpectedly, Patrick’s brother Greg asks him to look after his kids for the summer. Back in Palm Springs, where the kids are delighted he has a swimming pool, Gay Uncle Patrick, aka GUP or Guncle, makes several rules to help Maisie, 9, and Grant, 6, settle in. With help from part-time housekeeper Rosa, Patrick and kids deal with their grief, have lots of fun, and Patrick gradually figures out what the next chapter in life will look like. Poignant, with some hilarious dialogue, this is a memorable and charming novel. Maisie, Grant, and Patrick just might steal your heart. Readalikes include The Family Man by Elinor Lipman and Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Bree Matthews and her friend Alice are accepted into the Early College program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Bree’s mother recently died in a car accident, and she doesn’t always make the best choices. Assigned a peer mentor, Nick, she realizes he can also see magical creatures like hellhounds, and asks to join his secret society at the college as a page. She doesn’t realize he’s connected to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Meanwhile, Bree’s new counselor, who knew her mother, introduces her to her Black Southern magical roots, where she learns that her female ancestors still have stories to tell. While Bree’s classes are barely mentioned and Bree doesn’t share what’s going on with Alice or her father, this is an immersive and suspenseful fantasy novel with numerous plots twists that neither Bree nor the reader will see coming. The well-developed and diverse characters, especially mysterious and menacing Sel, have me looking forward to a sequel expected next year.
Fans of Dear Mrs. Bird will cheer Emmy Lake’s return as a young advice columnist in wartime London. A chance meeting on a train with Anne and her two young children lead to Emmy visiting the munitions factory where Anne works for an article on women war workers. While the article is upbeat, Emmy and her friend Bunty learn more about the struggles the women face, especially finding child care when they work long, varied shifts. Emmy has infrequent dates with Charles, now stationed in England, and thoroughly enjoys her work at Woman’s Friend magazine, now managed by supportive editor Guy. Emmy and Bunty do get into a bit of trouble when they agree to be in two different places on a very important day, but it makes for very entertaining reading. Such a wonderful story, very well told. More Emmy and Bunty, please! Sure to please Anglophiles and readers of historical fiction.
The Thursday Murder Club meets in the jigsaw room at the luxurious Coopers Chase Retirement Village in Kent, on England’s southeast coast. Widowed Joyce is the newest member of The Thursday Murder Club, taking the place of Penny, a retired police officer who’s in a nearby nursing home. Elizabeth, Ibrahim, Ron, and Joyce discuss Penny’s cold case files, then find themselves with two murders nearby, probably connected to plans to develop a nearby hilltop and relocate a convent cemetery. Elizabeth has a secret background, with connections almost everywhere. Ron was an organizer whose son is slightly famous, while Ibrahim is a psychiatrist. Agreeable Joyce worked as a nurse, and together they work to get information from PC Donna De Freitas and DCI Chris Hudson. There are poignant scenes as well as lighter ones in this witty, dryly funny character-based mystery that is hard to put down. The Thursday Murder Club is the first novel by Osman, a quiz show host on British television; a sequel, The Man Who Died Twice, will be published soon. Film rights have been bought, and a third book is planned for this deservedly popular debut.
On Tuesday, July 27, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7:00 pm on Zoom as we discuss The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson. From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, this is a charming novel of second chances, about three women, one dog, and the narrowboat that brings them together. My earlier review is here.
Copies of the book will be available four weeks in advance at the Circulation Desk. The eAudiobook is available from Hoopla Digital, and the eBook and eAudiobook are available from Media on Demand/Libby.
I enjoyed this cozy mystery, first in the new Booklovers B & B series, set in historic Beaufort, North Carolina. Chapters Bed & Breakfast comes complete with a well-stocked library and features several book related events each year. Charlotte is fairly new to running the inn, having inherited Chapters from her mysterious Great Aunt Isabella after years of teaching high school. A Josephine Tey mystery week starts off with a Richard III themed costume party and dinner, which ends with one guest murdered. Everyone is a suspect, from Charlotte, cook/housekeeper Alicia, the evening’s hotheaded chef Damian, local bookstore owner Julie, and all of the guests staying at Chapters. Charlotte finds unexpected help from elderly neighbor Ellen when she decides to investigate. The Beaufort setting is especially appealing, and my favorite character is Ellen, along with her dog, Shandy. The second book, Reserved for Murder, has just been published. Readalikes include mysteries by Ellery Adams, Eva Gates, Jenn McKinlay, and Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany.
Two women, Claire Cook and Eva James, are running away, and connect in an airport bar. Exchanging tickets, Claire flies to Oakland, desperate to leave her husband Rory, a powerful, angry, and possessive man. Eva will fly to Puerto Rico instead. Eva, raised by nuns in a group home, studied chemistry in college, but is expelled before graduating, and has no good choices. She is befriended by neighbor Liz, a visiting professor who encourages Eva to make a new start and consider giving information to the FBI. Claire has little privacy in her home, full of staff, and her days are tightly scheduled with appearances for a family foundation while her husband is planning to run for the senate. Claire’s only free time is at a gym, where she meets with a high school friend. In this rollercoaster ride of a novel, I enjoyed the strong yet flawed female characters and the many plot twists, and found it very hard to put down. Readalikes include Layover by David Bell, Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, The Switch by Joseph Finder and The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine.
Set against the backdrop of the 1960s and 1970s and the Vietnam War, Cooke follows the careers of several women who worked as stewardesses for Pan Am, which focused on international flights. Biology major Lynne Totten, experienced traveler Karen Walker, and Tori Werner, a Norwegian woman who wanted to work for the foreign service were all hired by Pan Am and sent to a six-week training course before getting assigned to flights around the globe. As they gained seniority, they could bid on their preferred flights and live abroad, from New York to Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Their perks included free air travel and paid vacations, with time for all-night parties or sightseeing. Later, some stewardesses sued Pan Am for the right to keep working after marriage and even during pregnancy during an era when new hires had to be slim, attractive, female, unmarried college graduates younger than 27. The author’s father worked for Pan Am until it went bankrupt in 1991, and the family traveled frequently on standby. At reunions for former flight crew, Cooke met and interviewed many retired stewardesses, and was fascinated by their stories. Most notable was an Operation Babylift flight that Tori Werner supervised as purser with Lynne and Karen as part of her crew, that brought orphaned and refugee infants and children to the United States from Vietnam. I would have liked a little less about politics and the Vietnam War and more stories about the other stewardesses mentioned, but I found this well-researched book to be an engaging read about a very challenging job that also allowed the women to expand their horizons.
On Tuesday, June 22, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7:00 pm on Zoom as we discuss All Adults Here by Emma Straub. This is warm, funny, and keenly perceptive contemporary novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. By the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers. Here’s my recent review.
Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk. eBook and eAudiobook copies are available from Media on Demand/Libby and eBook copies are also available from eRead Illinois.