BOOK NOTES: More book news, August 2, 2014

Compiled by Mary Louise Ruehr, Books Editor Published:

BOOK CLUBS

• Monday Morning Book Group: 11 a.m. Aug. 4, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Cup) for free coffee. No registration required. Copies available. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org. 

• Book Group @ the Market: Noon Aug. 9 at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market, located on the corner of Franklin St. and Summit St. under the Haymaker Overpass — “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver. Bring a lawn chair. No registration required. Copies available at the Kent Free Library. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org. 

• Pierce Streetsboro Library Book Discussion Club: 3 p.m. Aug. 11 in the library’s meeting room — “Defending Jacob” by William Landay, a legal thriller that tells the story of an attorney’s son who is accused of killing a classmate. Light refreshments. Copies available. Register: 330-626-4458.

• Adult Book Discussion: 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13, Reed Memorial Library, 167 E. Main St., Ravenna — “True Grit” by Charles Portis. This book tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just 14 years of age when she leaves home to avenge her father’s death with Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side. Copies available. Information: 330-296-2827, ext. 200.

• Kid Lit for Grown-Ups: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “Half A Chance” by Cynthia Lord and “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. No registration required. Copies available. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

• Read the Classics Book Club: 7 p.m. Aug. 19, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “Jayber Crow: The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership, as Written by Himself” by Wendell Berry. No registration required. Copies available. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

------

AUTHOR VISITS

Terry Sykes-Bradshaw will be at The Learned Owl Bookshop, 204 N. Main St. in Hudson, from 1 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 16 to sign her newest book, “Sibling Revelry,” a thriller about two sisters whose vacation goes horribly wrong. Meet the author and chat with her. Her first book, “The Awful Truth About Dead Men,” will also be available. Information: 330-653-2252.

------

Best Sellers

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

Week ending 7/27/2014

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. “A Perfect Life” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

2. “Tom Clancy Support and Defend” by Mark Greaney (G.P. Putnams’s Sons)

3. “The Heist” by Daniel Silva (Harper)

4. “The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness (Viking)

5. “Invisible” by Patterson/Ellis (Little, Brown)

6. “Act of War” by Brad Thor (Atria Books)

7. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

8. “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)

9. “The Goldfinch” Donna Tartt (Little,Brown)

10. “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

11. “Power Play” by Catherine Coulter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

12. “Cut and Thrust” by Stuart Woods (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

13. “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow)

14. “The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

15. “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” by Diana Gabaldon (Delacorte Press)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. “America” by Dinesh D’Souza (Regnery)

2. “One Nation” by Ben Carson (Penguin/Sentinel)

3. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regnery)

4. “Hard Choices” by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster)

5. “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” by Diane Muldrow (Golden Books)

6. “The Mockingbird Next Door” by Marja Mills (Penguin)

7. “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)

8. “Instinct” by T.D. Jakes (FaithWords)

9. “Think Like a Freak” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow)

10. “The Family of Jesus” by Karen Kingsbury (Howard Books)

11. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty (Harvard/Belknap)

12. “Girlboss” by Sophia Amoruso (Penguin/Portfolio)

13. “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai (Little, Brown)

14. “Good Call” by Jase Robertson (Howard Books)

15. “Clinton, Inc. “ by Daniel Halper (HarperCollins/Broadside)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS

1. “Rose Harbor in Bloom” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)

2. “Deadline” by Sandra Brown (Vision)

3. “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

4. “Bombshell” by Catherine Coulter (Jove)

5. “Second Honeymoon” by Patterson/Roughan (Vision)

6. “The Perfect Hope” by Nora Roberts (Jove)

7. “Inferno” by Dan Brown (Anchor)

8. “The Promise” by Robyn Carr (Mira)

9. “Hotshot” by Julie Garwood (Signet)

10. “Trapped at the Altar” by Jane Feather (Pocket Books)

11. “Kiss and Tell” by Fern Michaels (Kensington/Zebra)

12. “The 9th Girl” by Tami Hoag (Signet)

13. “The Last Boyfriend” by Nora Roberts (Jove)

14. “Robert Ludlam’s The Bourne Retribution” by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central Publishing)

15. “The Escape” by Mary Balogh (Dell)

TRADE PAPERBACKS

1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)

2. “Heaven Is for Real (movie tie-in)” by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson)

3. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Penguin)

4. “The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan (Ecco)

5. “Private L.A. “ by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Grand Central Publishing)

6. “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)

7. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster (Harper Perennial)

8. “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)

9. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

10. “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

11. “Identical” by Scott Turow (Grand Central Publishing)

12. “The Silver Star” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)

13. “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (S&S/Gallery)

14. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow)

15. “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes (Penguin)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

——

WALL STREET JOURNAL-BEST SELLERS

The Associated Press

Week Ended July 26

FICTION

1. “Four: A Divergent Collection” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

2. “A Perfect Life” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

3. “Tom Clancy Suppoert and Defend” by Mark Greaney (G.P. Putnams’s Sons)

4. “The Heist” by Daniel Silva (Harper)

5. “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

6. “The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness (Viking)

7. “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

8. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

9. “Act of War” by Brad Thor (Atria Books)

10. “Frozen” by Victoria Saxon (Random House Disney)

NONFICTION

1. “America: Imagine a World Without Her” by Dinesh D’Souza (Regenry Publishing)

2. “Minecraft: Redstone Handbook” by Scholastic (Scholastic)

3. “Minecraft: Essential Handbook” by Scholastic (Scholastic)

4. “One Nation: What We Can All Do” by Ben Carson (Sentinel)

5. “Strengths Finder” by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)

6. “Unbroken: A World War II Story” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

7. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regenry Publishing)

8. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)

9. “Hard Choices” by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster)

10. “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” by Diane Muldrow (Golden Books)

FICTION E-BOOKS

1. “A Perfect Life” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

2. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James (Vintage)

3. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Penguin)

4. “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman (Penguin)

5. “Tom Clancy Suppoert and Defend” by Mark Greaney (G.P. Putnams’s Sons)

6. “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow)

7. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

8. “The Heist” by Daniel Silva (Harper)

9. “Act of War” by Brad Thor (Atria Books)

10. “The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness (Viking)

NONFICTION E-BOOKS

1. “Unbroken: A World War II Story” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

2. “Ask More, Get More” by Michael Alden (Michael Alden)

3. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Viking Press)

4. “Operation Mincemeat” by Ben Macintyre (Crown Publishing)

5. “Orange Is the New Black” by Piper Kerman (Random House)

6. “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson)

7. “The Last Gunfight” by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)

8. “How Dogs Love Us” by Gregory Berns (New Harvest)

9. “The Quinoa Book” by John Chatham (Rockridge University Press)

10. “I Am Hutterite” by Mary-Ann Kirkby (Thomas Nelson)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

——

USA TODAY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

1. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Dutton Children’s)

2. “A Perfect Life” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

3. “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman (Speak)

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James (Vintage)

5. “Four: A Divergent Collection” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

6. “Tom Clancy Suppoert and Defend” by Mark Greaney (G.P. Putnams’s Sons)

7. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (Laurel Leaf)

8. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)

9. “The Heist” by Daniel Silva (Harper)

10. “The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness (Viking)

11. “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson)

12. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

13. “Act of War” by Brad Thor (Atria Books)

14. “Divergent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

15. “America: Imagine a World Without Her” by Dinesh D’Souza (Regenry Publishing)

16. “Rose Harbor in Bloom” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)

17. “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow)

18. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

19. “Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle” by E.L. James (Vintage)

20. “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

21. “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

22. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little by Brown)

23. “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

24. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (Speak)

25. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline (William Morrow Paperbacks)

For the extended, interactive and searchable version of this list, visit http://books.usatoday.com/list/index

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. 

———

Storytime at The Learned Owl

Kids can hear the story of “Peanut Butter & Cupcake!” at 11 a.m. on Aug. 23 at The Learned Owl Book Shop, 204 N. Main St. in Hudson. This is a story of Peanut Butter, new in town and looking for a friend. Illustrated with cleverly created photographic vignettes, this is a refreshing approach to the subject about being lonely and making friends in a new place. Call 330-653-2252 to sign up for the free event.

------

The Romance Reader: ‘One Night with the Boss’

By Lezlie Patterson

McClatchy News Service (MCT) 

 

“One Night with the Boss” by Teresa Southwick; Harlequin (224 pages, $4.95)

Teresa Southwick is a talented author who makes the most of the 224 pages she’s given to write books in Harlequin series.

In fact, put her near the top on Harlequins’ author list.

“One Night with the Boss” is a quality book, the second in the “Bachelors of Blackwater Lake” series, with ties to the “Men of Mercy Medical” series before it.

This story has everything a romance fan could want: a tortured, successful, handsome and honorable hero, a sympathetic heroine who is independent and loyal but smart enough to know when to move on with her life when her long-time love has gone unrequited long enough. The small-town setting is quaint, with some familiar supporting characters.

Olivia has been in love with Brady for many years. They were neighbors growing up; their families were friends. Olivia’s best friend is Brady’s sister.

As adults, Olivia has been Brady’s administrative assistant for years. While he’s always been a great boss, he never showed any indication that he was attracted to Olivia at all.

Finally, Olivia gave up hoping he ever would.

So, she decides to accept a job offer far away to put distance between herself and Brady. To keep Brady from trying to convince her not to leave, she creates a pretend boyfriend.

Brady doesn’t like that.

At first he tells himself that he doesn’t want her to leave because she’s a perfect administrative assistant. But gradually, he realizes it’s much more than that. Still, his reticence to get involved with any woman keeps him from saying the words that will keep Olivia in town.

HOW IT STACKS UP

Overall rating: 4 of 5. It’s not as deep as many books, and it doesn’t have the twists and intrigue that romantic suspenses have. But it’s a charming book, with a sweet love story that will churn your emotions and at one point, may have you reaching for a tissue. It’s an easy, simple and fun read.

Hunk appeal: 10. Brady is a bit of tragic hero, but it’s a self-made problem. Oh, he suffered tragedy — his father died suddenly of a heart attack when he was in college, and not long after his best friend was killed in an automobile accident with Brady as a passenger. But to use those tragedies as a reason not to fall in love? Of course it does make for a good plot, and watching Olivia change his mind is what makes the story charming.

Steamy scene grade: XXXX. Mind-changing.

Happily-Ever-After: Very good. Sometimes, it takes a sad scene to set up a really good ending. This is the case here. While Brady makes up for his grievous error quite well, it is a little disappointing that there is no epilogue-type scene in which readers can see everything tied up. But hopefully some of that will be revealed in later books? The next book in this series is scheduled for October, “The Rancher Who Took Her In,” featuring Brady’s pal Cabot Dixon.

ALSO THIS WEEK

“Protective Instincts” by Shirlee McCoy, 4 of 5 hearts. Raina has been through a lot. Her beloved husband and child were killed in a car accident. She went on a mission trip to Africa and was captured and tortured by rebels before being rescued just before certain death. Jackson was one of her rescuers, and they’re reunited months later when he escorts an African boy who saved Raina’s life to her. When he gets to Raina’s home, he discovers her life once again may be in danger, and he and his team of rescuers stay to help. This Love Inspired story is G-rated, so the romance is rather tame and slow developing. Still, it’s sweet, well-written and a good read.

Lezlie Patterson is a former columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. Readers may send her email at lezlie.patterson@gmail.com. To read more of her romance reviews, go to http://lezlie-romance.blogspot.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

———

Tiphanie Yanique’s ‘Land of Love and Drowning’ evokes Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

By Mike Fischer

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT) 

 

“Land of Love and Drowning” by Tiphanie Yanique; Riverhead (358 pages, $27.95)

“Nowadays people think historians are stuffy types, but history is a kind of magic I doing here.”

So says Anette, the most compelling of the characters populating “Land of Love and Drowning” by Virgin Islands native Tiphanie Yanique. A multigenerational novel set in Yanique’s native land, “Love and Drowning” opens just before the U.S. arrives, after purchasing several of the islands from Denmark in 1917. It concludes in the 1970s.

The coming of the Americans — and the ensuing arrival of the tourists — will change everything. The newcomers snap up prime real estate and privatize beaches, increasingly isolating themselves from the native population — except when they want a dose of local color as a backdrop. Meanwhile, islanders are shipped off to war, experiencing Jim Crow first hand in Louisiana — decades before their kids watch Birmingham and Selma on television.

But while Yanique’s novel keeps half an eye on these troublesome outsiders, its focus and energies are found elsewhere, as multiple narrators spin alternative histories rather than blandly accepting those being imposed. “Nothing ever happen just so,” Anette tells us. “It must be story.” One may not be able to escape the past. But one can learn to read and tell it slant.

Which, as with that great Caribbean writer from Colombia, often means telling it through myth.

There are many parallels between Yanique’s novel and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Their magical realism. Their often radical temporal shifts within a seemingly straightforward narrative (Yanique continually foreshadows what’s to come). Their symbolic use of color (especially blue and red, here). Their markedly similar openings. Their devastating hurricanes.

Thematically, both novels are consumed by nostalgia for a rural, pre-colonial past and simultaneously wary of the dangers of solitude, in which one’s isolation from the world — imposed, chosen or both — turns incestuously inward.

There is incest aplenty in this novel, beginning with the unholy love between the ethereally beautiful Eeona and her father, a ship captain who seemingly has it all — until he drowns in fleeing his passion for his daughter, who will raise younger sister Anette.

A cross between Amaranta and Remedios the Beauty in “Solitude,” Eeona is trapped by memories of her family’s former prestige — and by a beauty which allows her to ignore how far that family has fallen.

Like so many characters in “Solitude,” Eeona is fatalistically obsessed with a past that she is therefore condemned to repeat. As is often true in magical realism — which tends to privilege fate while downplaying character — she’s also therefore less nuanced or interesting. Eeona has no substance. And because she’s as light as a feather, she’s arbitrarily blown hither and yon.

Anette is another matter. “I had just want to be really alive for as long as possible. That my goal. To live,” Anette tells us in her Virgin Islands Creole, which lends her sections of the narrative an earthy vitality.

And live she does, grounding the unfocused hungers and dreams of more self-involved and less textured characters — including her parents, her sister and her daughters — in something real and alive.

She falls in love. Bears three children, each with a different father. Leads a protest movement to take back privatized beaches. And learns, as other characters do not, how to negotiate the gap between what she wants and what she needs, while still being true to herself.

This novel could do with more of such truthiness. Portions of it are gorgeously written, but as with Eeona herself, that beauty stales because it’s not tethered. As a result, too much of what bids to be magical comes out as whimsical: If the pieces on the board can be rearranged at will, none of them ultimately matter.

Anette’s own revisionism is more satisfying because her stories engage the past rather than escaping it — loving the land rather than drowning offshore.

©2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

_____

‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel’ conjures a new literary form 

By David L. Ulin

Los Angeles Times (MCT) 

 

“Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel” by Anya Ulinich; Penguin (362 pages, $17 paper)

It’s tempting to frame Anya Ulinich’s “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” in terms of its antecedents: Bernard Malamud and Anton Chekhov, on the one hand, both of whom are referenced in the narrative, and on the other, graphic novelists such as Marjane Satrapi and Harvey Pekar, whose work is rich, allusive and (perhaps most important) alive with words.

What’s more accurate, however, is that “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” has no antecedents, that it transcends its influences so thoroughly it creates a form, a language, all its own. Ulinich wrote a previous (nongraphic) novel, 2007’s “Petropolis,” which tells the story of a Russian mail-order bride named Sasha Goldberg, who ends up in Brooklyn by way of Arizona. Something of a similar set of migrations is at play here, but don’t let that mislead you: This new book is a departure in nearly every way.

Most obvious, of course, is its status as a graphic novel, the interplay of words and images through which so much of the narrative unfolds. Ulinich has an MFA in painting from the University of California and has done her share of portrait work and illustration, but this is a different order of magnitude.

Then there is the story, narrated by a woman, Lena, very much like the author — late 30s, a novelist who came to the United States from Moscow as a divorced mother of two daughters, living and teaching in Brooklyn. Gone is the satirical edge of Ulinich’s first book, replaced with a relentless drive toward revelation, a metaphorical mortification of the flesh.

“If I’m going to be an American novelist,” Lena tells her mother after the State Department offers to send her back to Russia on a cultural exchange program, “I’d better write my next American novel.”

“Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” is that novel, a kind of social fiction in comics form. The simplest way to describe it is to say that it’s about Lena’s efforts to reconcile herself to sex and love (through OkCupid, among other contemporary intercessions), but that doesn’t do justice to the complexity of what Ulinich has in mind.

Rather, “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” works as something of a confessional, a series of notebooks that excavate its protagonist’s life and psyche from the inside. We learn about her upbringing in Russia, her infatuation there with a boy named Alik, with whom she has remained in touch. We witness, in subtle yet chilling detail, the two times she was abused as a child in the elevator of her apartment block, incidents that have a lot to do with inability to connect.

This is the power of the graphic novel, that it not only tells but also shows us, that by integrating images into the narrative, it draws us into Lena’s experience with the force of memory. Ulinich highlights this with her drawing, which merges elements of sketch and crayon into a style that is naturalistic and impressionistic at once.

For the most part, she forgoes panels in favor of full or half-page images, and throughout, she uses the device of a notebook, complete with lined paper and re-created spiral rings, to bring the process of her storytelling to life. The effect is that of seeing her working drafts — a useful strategy because so much of the book deals with her efforts to find a through line, to make sense of the disparate pieces of her life.

“I’m going to write about you,” she announces late in the novel to a man known only as the Orphan, a trust funder in full retreat from his privilege with whom she’s fallen in love. “You won’t be able to,” he responds, “... (b)ecause you’ll turn me into a stereotype like the characters in those mean satires you like.”

It’s hard, reading that, not to think about “Petropolis,” a point Ulinich makes explicit by giving Lena a failed second novel, which flutters through the background of the story like an albatross. “Novels are so stupid!” she laments. “With their plots, deliberate as garbage truck routes, and character development, steady as garbage collection. ... Look at these three hundred pages of garbage! ... What does this ‘realism’ have to do with reality? ... Why keep trying to do, badly, what Tolstoy already did well a hundred years ago?”

In that sense, “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” can be regarded as a declaration of independence for character and (perhaps) author alike.

Certainly it has literary aspirations; Lena is named for the protagonist of Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel,” and in one of the book’s most unexpected scenes, she dreams a confrontation with Philip Roth on a bus; “You’re so mean!” she tells him. “Guess what — I hated ‘Exit Ghost’ so much I threw it in a subway trash can!” But more to the point, Ulinich means — not unlike Pekar in “American Splendor” or Karl Ove Knausgaard in “My Struggle” — to set aside literature with a capital L (whatever that is) in favor of the epic textures of the day-to-day.

Throughout the book, we see Lena’s most mundane and intimate interactions: making dinner for her daughters, riding the bus, wrestling with her self-loathing, her self-doubt. We observe her, in other words, in all her flawed and glorious humanity. Even when she is making a mistake, we empathize with her desire for transcendence and her understanding that transcendence is another illusion, that the quotidian is all we get.

©2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

_____

Compelling characters in Atkins’ ‘The Forsaken’

OLINE H. COGDILL

Associated Press

 

“The Forsaken” (Putnam), by Ace Atkins

Sheriff Quinn Colson has been working to clean up corruption and injustice in Ace Atkins’ compelling crime fiction series, but he can’t change the past of Jericho, Mississippi, when he’s faced with a decades-old crime that leads to scrutiny of his own past in “The Forsaken.”

In the fourth novel of this solid series, Quinn is approached by Diane Tull, who, back in 1977, was raped on a country road when she was 17 years old. Her 14-year-old friend was murdered in the same assault. Three days later, a group of local men found a black man they blamed for the attacks and brutally murdered him.

Now, 37 year later, Diane wants Quinn to reopen that old case because she is sure the wrong man was killed. Quinn’s investigation leads to some uncomfortable facts about his father, who left his family more than 20 years ago and hasn’t made contact in years with either Quinn or his younger sister, Caddy.

Meanwhile, Quinn and his deputy, Lillie Virgil, are under investigation for killing two men who had tried to murder them. One of those men was a cop who had been in the pocket of Johnny Stagg, a prominent Jericho businessman and politician who also runs a lucrative criminal enterprise.

Atkins excels in solid pacing, effective dialogue and compelling characters in “The Forsaken.” Quinn’s background as a former U.S. Ranger and his relationship with his family, which includes his mother, sister and her young son, add texture to the series. A good soldier, Quinn has now found his calling as the sheriff. Atkins shapes Quinn not as a superman, but as a flawed man who wants to do the right thing for his hometown.

Earlier this year, Atkins published “Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot,” his third novel about Boston private eye Spencer, which the Parker estate tapped him to continue. Atkins’ fresh approach to Spencer keeps faithful to the iconic detective’s past. But the excellent Quinn Colson novels, as illustrated in “The Forsaken,” are the true showcase for Atkins’ storytelling skills.

___

 

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.