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The Son: A Novel by Jo Nesbo
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The Leonard Lopate Show: Jo Nesbø, Master of the Crime Thriller
CBC: Jo Nesbø on his latest thriller The Son
On the surface, Nesbø’s gripping new stand-alone might seem like another installment of the Harry Hole series but featuring a new cast of characters. A serial killer is at work in Oslo, and a maverick cop with his share of personal demons is on his trail. But beneath that surface, there is a complex psychological thriller churning its way into the reader’s nightmares. Sonny Lofthus is in prison for crimes he didn’t commit but for which he has agreed to take the fall—in exchange for an unending supply of heroin. The drugs are Sonny’s way of dealing with the knowledge that his father, an apparent suicide, was a dirty cop. As the novel begins, however, Sonny has new information about his father’s death and has engineered a daring escape from prison. His revenge-fueled plan is to kill those responsible for the crimes he was convicted of by re-creating the murders with the real killers now the victims. The more we learn about Sonny, the more we root for him to evade capture, either by the police or by the crime lord who wants him dead. Juggling point of view between Sonny, Simon Kefas (the cop chasing him), and the various corrupt officials who risk exposure the longer Sonny is free, Nesbø thwarts our every attempt to draw conclusions about both what happened in the past and who is the least guilty among the principals. There is an element of the classic film noir Breathless at work here but with more characters of varying shades of gray whose fates hinge on numerous moving parts. A terrific thriller but also a tragic, very moving story of intertwined characters swerving desperately to avoid the dead ends in their paths.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
All Things Considered: Haruki Murakami Paints A ‘Colorless’ Character In A Vividly Imagined World
Thirty-six-year-old Tsukuru Tazaki meets a woman named Sara who raises questions about a painful incident from his youth in which his closest friends all cut off relations with him without explanation, and inspires him to find out why.
Sweetness #9: A Novel by Stephan Eirik Clark
Fresh Air: 'Sweetness #9' Satirizes Food Wars And Artificial America
Years after covering up unsettling side effects discovered while testing a popular artificial sweetener, David Leveraux’s family is exhibiting the same side effects, and he wonders if the cause is the sweetener or just the American condition.
Small Blessings: A Novel by Martha Woodroof
Weekend Edition: College Professor’s Life Is Upended In ‘Small Blessings’
From debut novelist Martha Woodroof comes an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.
Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.
Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.
A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings’s wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.
The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Weekend Edition: An Unlikely Psychologist-Patient Friendship Unfolds In ‘The Story Hour’
Befriending a young Indian woman named Lakshmi—who is suicidal, lonely, and trapped in a loveless marriage—psychologist Maggie finds their relationship warped by conflicting expectations and threatened by the revelation of long-buried secrets.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Weekend Edition: Lois Lowry Says ‘The Giver’ Was Inspired By Her Father’s Memory Loss
The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
Death at the Chateau Bremont: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery (Verlaque and Bonnet Mysteries) by M. L. Longworth
Morning Edition: Mystery Writer Weaves Intricate Puzzles In Sleepy French Town
Antoine Verlaque, the handsome chief magistrate of Aix, and his sometime love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet, investigate the death of a local French nobleman who fell from the family chãateau in charming and historic Aix-en-Provence.
The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce
NPR: 'Electric Blue Suit' Is A Wise, Wistful Look At Memory And Mystery
Working at a run-down English family resort during the sweltering summer of 1976, college student David searches for his biological father among suspicious characters and amid eerie visions of a mysterious man.
Dear Committee Members: A Novel by Julie Schumacher
Fresh Air: In A Funny New Novel, A Weary Professor Writes To ‘Dear Committee Members’
Enduring budget cuts at his small liberal arts college, literature professor Jason Fitger despairs of his writing ambitions and imposed role in a star pupil’s would-be opus while writing wryly comic, passive-aggressive letters to students and colleagues.
Friendswood: A Novel by Rene Steinke
Weekend Edition: Chemical Dump Poisons A Texas Town In ‘Friendswood’
Steinke’s sense of this small Texas town, with its explosive and interconnected lives and deaths, is absolutely masterful.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
A big, moving novel of one tight-knit Texas community and the events that alter its residents’ lives forever.
Friendswood, Texas, is a small Gulf Coast town of church suppers, oil rigs on the horizon, hurricane weather, and high school football games. When tragedy rears its head with an industrial leak that kills and sickens residents, it pulls on the common thread that runs through the community, intensifying everything. From a confused fifteen-year-old girl beset by visions, to a high school football star tormented by his actions, to a mother galvanized by the death of her teen daughter, to a morally bankrupt father trying to survive his mistakes, René Steinke explores what happens when families are trapped in the ambiguity of history’s misstepswhen the actions of a few change the lives and well-being of many.
Driving the narrative powerfully forward is the suspenseful question of the fates of four Friendswood families, and Steinke’s striking insight and empathy. Inspired in part by the town where she herself grew up, this layered, propulsive, psychologically complex story is poignant proof that extreme public events, as catastrophic as they might seem, must almost always pale in comparison to the intimate personal experiences and motivations of grief, love, lust, ambition, anxiety, and regret.
Your Face in Mine: A Novel by Jess Row
Weekend Edition: Race Change Surgery Is Reality In ‘Your Face In Mine’
NPR: False Equivalencies Mar This Bold ‘Face’
Shocked by a childhood friend’s decision to dramatically change his appearance after immersing himself for twenty years in black culture, widower Kelly Thorndike confronts morally ambiguous choices about race, identity, and belonging.
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Daily Circuit: 'You Should Have Known' is Kerri's book pick
Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended. Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.
Bad Teeth: A Novel by Dustin Long
KCRW Bookworm: Dustin Long: Bad Teeth
In Bad Teeth (New Harvest), Dustin Long calls into question our tendency to confuse complexity and complication. Long speaks of the disappointment his generation has grown to expect at having prepared for a life that isn’t there. His purported narrator, a translator named Judas, is one of a group of tech-savvy writers searching for the Tibetan David Foster Wallace. He travels between Brooklyn, Bloomington, Berkeley, and Bakersfield, four American cities beginning with the letter “b,” but such surface similitudes deflect us from deeper meaning (or seeing what’s actually going on).
Madam: A Novel of New Orleans by Cari Lynn, Kellie Martin
Dinner Party Download: Peeking into a Bordello of Belle Epoque New Orleans
When vice had a legal home and jazz was being bornthe captivating story of an infamous true-life madam
New Orleans, 1900. Mary Deubler makes a meager living as an alley whore.” That all changes when bible-thumping Alderman Sidney Story forces the creation of a red-light district that’s mockingly dubbed Storyville.” Mary believes there’s no place for a lowly girl like her in the high-class bordellos of Storyville’s Basin Street, where Champagne flows and beautiful girls turn tricks in luxurious bedrooms. But with gumption, twists of fate, even a touch of Voodoo, Mary rises above her hopeless lot to become the notorious Madame Josie Arlington.
Filled with fascinating historical details and cameos by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and E. J. Bellocq, Madam is a fantastic romp through The Big Easy and the irresistible story of a woman who rose to power long before the era of equal rights.
The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman
Weekend Edition: Lev Grossman: A ‘Magician’ Grows Up
Visiting his magical college after being cast out of the secret land of Fillory, Quentin Coldwater, accompanied by brilliant undergraduate Plum, encounters desperate practitioners of gray magic before discovering a sorcery masterwork that could dissolve the boundaries between Fillory and Earth.