BOOK & BLOG
July 21, 2012
Books of the Week:
The Expats is complicated, intriguing, and suspenseful. You really couldn’t ask for more from a thriller, and Chris Pavone delivers in his first novel. Kate Moore, happily married and the mother of two, is also a CIA operative, which is a secret from her family and friends. When her husband gets a job offer in Luxembourg, she quits the CIA and goes with him to start living the life of a stay-at-home mom. But suspicion is the lot of an agent, even an ex-agent, and Kate thinks another ex-pat couple is a little too nosy. I won’t spoil any of the complicated plot, but I was completely engaged all the way through this book.
By now you all know I’m a fan of Mira Grant, no matter what name she’s using (she’s also Seanan MacGuire). If you haven’t read Feed and Deadline, the two previous books in the Newsflesh series, do yourself a favor and snap them up to read before you dive into Blackout. In Grant’s vision of America, the zombies have come, remained, and life has changed for everyone. The precautions against infection rule every moment of life, pets are banned, and chemical sprays and baths are employed several times a day. There are conspiracies, of course, because the zombies aren’t enough trouble! Shaun Mason and his sister Georgia are great characters, trying to change America, a bleak country where everyone gets the news by blog. This is only a fraction of the great world Grant has created.
Janci Patterson’s Chasing the Skip is a young adult novel about Ricki, a teenager whose father has never spent much time with her. He’s a bounty hunter, and when Ricki has to go along with him on some of his captures, the learning curve is pretty sharp for both Ricki and her dad. Ricki learns more about why her dad hasn’t been a big part of her life: her dad learns that teenage girls can have pretty romantic ideas about handsome young prisoners. Patterson’s good at writing realistic characters with flaws that aren’t fatal, and this is a book I could recommend to almost any teenager.
Colin Cotterill and I were guests of honor at Bouchercon 2011, and I was lucky enough to spend some time with Colin, who is entertaining in the extreme. Born in London, he lived and worked in Laos for years before coming to settle in Thailand. Some of you may have read the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, which are mysteries and simply wonderful. Killed is his first book about Jimm Jurree, a young female crime reporter who’s dutifully gone with her mother and brother to a coastal town where nothing ever happens. Since this is another mystery series, of course things begin to happen with incredible rapidity. A monk is found stabbed to death, and since he was a peaceable man, no one can understand why. If you like your mysteries to give you a window into another culture, this is a series you will relish. There’s no preaching; there’s just good reading. And there’s the added fun in the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, and the title itself, taken from speeches by President George W. Bush.
I admit I bought The Wild Side because my buddies Toni L.P. Kelner and Dana Cameron have stories in this anthology. But since they’re both award-winning short story writers, I don’t have to apologize for that! In fact, there are several very good stories besides Toni’s (“For a Good Time, Call . . .”) and Dana’s (“Love Knot”), which are both fantastic. Let me clarify that these are not erotic stories per se, but “stories with an erotic edge,” which is quite a different thing. I especially enjoyed Caitlin Kittredge’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
BffPaula and I are off to Australia and New Zealand. It’s been quite a summer for me, with the birth of our grandson, the completion of DEAD EVER AFTER, and the news that THE SOOKIE STACKHOUSE COMPANION has been nominated for two more awards. Now we get to go somewhere completely new and see things we’ve never seen before, to say nothing of meeting fans I’ve never gotten to meet.
Maybe my fans Down Under will ask completely different questions. It could happen!
When you think of the “glamor” of my professional life, also spare a thought for the hours of boredom and exposure to other peoples’ germs in the recycled air. I’m not complaining; it’s a privilege to be able to travel to promote my books, and it’s a pleasure to be able to take my best friend and assistant along with me. But it’s not all cake and compliments.
We do get to meet some wonderful people, and we end up with a fund of stories to tell that should last us for a few more years: like the time I let go of my suitcase at the top of an escalator at Heathrow (I swear it was an accident --sorry, Paula!), or our spirited rendition of “Spirit in the Sky” at an Italian nightclub.
As we pack our bags, wish us well, and keep the lights on here in the USA. We’ll miss some of the Olympics, so do our cheering for us. And we’ll see you in August. We might have a few tales to tell.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris