Happy Valentine’s Day! February is also winter break month, the perfect time to read a new book.
Perhaps one of the following would appeal.
Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb is a suspenseful novel narrated by Nick Framingham, a man whose life has fallen apart since the suicide of his childhood best friend six months ago. Rob Castor, a brilliant writer known for his critically acclaimed book of short stories, didn’t just kill himself—he also murdered his estranged author girlfriend, whose recent work had started to eclipse Rob’s own. Rob’s death shakes the foundations of Nick’s life – his 10-year marriage to Lucy is crumbling under the weight of his obsession with finding out what drove his friend to such extremes. His search for the truth about the end of Rob’s life leads him back to his childhood haunts. He visits Rob’s mother, an alcoholic who taunts him with a secret about Nick that she refuses to reveal and resumes his high school/post-college affair with Belinda, Rob’s sister, who comes back to town to clear out some of Rob’s belongings. He visits his parents in their retirement home in Arizona to explore some recently surfaced childhood memories. Lucy’s attempts to bring Nick back from the brink of disaster are fruitless – nagging, fighting and marriage counseling are useless against his desire to know how he and Rob ended up where they did. As Nick gets closer and closer to the deeply buried secrets of his past, the mood becomes darker and more suspenseful. Lucy finally has enough and throws Nicks out. The shocking revelations about his past and the truth about Rob’s death that are finally revealed will have readers reeling at the train wreck Nick’s life has become. If you enjoy literary thrillers, you’ll enjoy this book.
Lauren Groff’s debut novel The Monsters of Templeton is set in a town modeled on Cooperstown, where Groff grew up. In it, Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton has just returned to town from an archeological dig where she was pursuing both her doctorate and her married professor. When the professor’s wife shows up, Willie realizes that her affair will have no happy ending and she returns to her hometown to lick her wounds and to decide how to deal with her unintended pregnancy. Willie herself never knew who her father was (her mother’s free-spirited hippie days resulted in Willie’s birth) and Vi’s reaction to her daughter’s return and pregnancy is disappointment that her daughter should have followed in her footsteps. And then the bombshell—Vi does know who Willie’s father is, and he is a prominent citizen of Templeton who is also descended from Marmaduke Temple, the town founder (Willie’s grandparents were both descendants of his), thus making Willie even more related to the town’s founding family. Furious at Vi for keeping her in the dark for so long, Willie turns her prodigious research skills towards finding out who her father is by going to the local library and examining their genealogical records. As her research progresses, we hear from her various ancestors the stories of their lives and how their actions affected the town of Templeton. Actual photographs from Cooperstown are interspersed in the novel, making the characters seem real. Also intertwined in the novel is the legend of Glimmey, the counterpart of the Loch Ness monster that resides in Lake Glimmerglass. When a dead creature, presumably Glimmey, is dragged from the lake, the town is infested with reporters and scientists eager to investigate its origins, while the Templeton natives would prefer to mourn Glimmey in peace. Lauren Groff does a masterful job of keeping the many strands of the story woven together. Anyone with an interest in Cooperstown will enjoy the local flavor of this novel and book groups will enjoy discussing the literary devices Groff uses liberally throughout.
Last year I reviewed Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, describing it as “a twelfth century CSI.” The author has written another mystery featuring Adelia Aguilar, who is called out of retirement to investigate the death of Rosamund Clifford, Henry II’s mistress, who was poisoned by a person or persons unknown. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry’s estranged queen, is the prime suspect. Once again, Adelia must put her forensic skills to work in service to the English king. Franklin has written another thrilling page-turner. If you haven’t yet read the first in the series, it will be out in paperback this month.
Susan Taylor has been in the book business, in one aspect or another, since 1982. She spent 14 years in the Boston area (which included stints at the Harvard Bookstore and the Wellesley Booksmith) and now works at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Stop by the store if you are looking for a good book—she’s read a lot more than she can talk about here!