Archive for April, 2010

Never Look Away

Wow! This is another fantastic book from Linwood Barclay.  Never Look Away (published by DoubleDay) is his 4th thriller and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s fast paced intrigue will keep you reading right til the end. It doesn’t let down, ever. Barclay is an amazing writer. Without giving too much away, this is the story of David Harwood, a reporter for the Promise Falls Standard, his wife Jan, and their son Ethan. Jan goes missing at an amusement park. David’s life starts to unravel because the police don’t think the situation adds up the way David tells it, and things just keep going from bad to worse. David begins to wonder if her disappearance has anything to do with the story he’s working on for the newspaper, a potential scandal involving a land deal to build a private prison on the outskirts of town. Or do other factors play into her vanishing right under his nose … well almost under his nose – on the way into the park she realized she left the backpack with sandwiches and a change of clothes for Ethan in the car so she says she’ll just dash back and pick it up and meet David & Ethan inside the entrance gate. She never shows up. The police don’t think she was ever there and they start going back over their life the past few weeks and David becomes increasingly confused by the events they uncover, or don’t. Who’s word is it – David’s or a host of other people she came in contact with… who’s telling the truth? What happened to her? Where is she? Why can’t they find her? And worst of all – is she alive or dead? It’s a gripping good read. You won’t want to put the book down.

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

This book was a joy to read! I predict it will be a sleeper hit, just like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel  (published by Doubleday) is Helen Simonson’s first book and I sure hope she intends to write more. I was full of empathy for Major Pettigrew from page 1 when Mrs. Jasmina Ali from one of the local shops in Edgecombe St. Mary lands on his doorstep looking for payment for his newspaper. The Major is embarrassed, he’s wearing his dressing gown, and he fumbles to try and find the money to pay her, only to go deeper into despair when it becomes obvious he’s taking a weak turn and Mrs. Ali offers to help him inside and fetch a glass of water. He tells her he’s just had word that his brother has died, hence the obvious distress he’s under. Mrs. Ali offers to make tea and from then on a friendship develops right under the noses of the nosey neighbours and townfolk . The townfolk consider Mrs. Ali an “outsider” (they think she was born in Pakistan) even though she was born in Britain. The Major (ret’d) they consider “one of them” even though he was born in India while his father was fighting for King & country. A lovely story enfolds, complete with dry British humour that will give you “Major” fits of giggles. Trying to understand the young people and the modern world is something the Major has difficulty with, even when dealing with his own son. The second part of the book is a bit more serious than the first, but just as endearing. It’s a wonderful story full of humour and rich in character. I can’t recommend it enough.

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Locavore

Anyone interested in the whole local food movement or the 100 mile diet philosophy should add Sarah Elton’s new book Locavore From Farmers Fields to Rooftop Gardenshow Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat (published by Harper Collins) to their reading list. It’s a really good read, full of interesting info about the food industry in Canada today. I was especially intrigued by the story of the giant Toronto Food Terminal and how management from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago’s food terminals (which are significantly larger than Toronto’s) come north to learn about Toronto’s operation. It produces a mere 10 million kilograms of waste a year (a mere!!) thanks to it’s fantastic recycling program. Amazing when you think of the size of the city and the amount of food the terminal sees on a daily basis. I loved the chapter on local cheese in Quebec (yum), and what’s happening with wheat in Saskatchewan and how farmers, growers, and even ordinary citizens all across the country are trying to create a more sustainable food system. If you’re a “Foodie” this is definitely a book you’ll want to read. And if you’re not, read it anyway… we really need to get moving and changing the whole food industry in Canada for the better and this is a “feel good” book about what’s happening all across the country.

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What are the odds

Tracey Chevalier has a new book out called Remarkable Creatures. Joan Thomas has a new book out called Curiosity, and they are both historical fiction based on the same remarkable English woman named Mary Anning. What are the odds of that happening? Of all the people to write about. I certainly wasn’t familiar with Anning, but I’ve learned that she was a leading paleontologist in Britain who never received the recognition she so richly deserved. And you know that little ditty “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” … well, it’s about Mary Anning. Interesting eh! Now, I just have to figure out which book to read.

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Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd is a great writer, and his book Ordinary Thunderstorms (published by Random House) couldn’t be further from the ordinary. It’s exceptional. Adam Kindred is a young climatologist in London for a job interview. It goes really well. He treats himself to a dinner in a local Italian restaurant, strikes up a conversation with another diner, Dr. Philip Wang, and from that moment on, his life is forever altered. To make a long story short… Wang is murdered, Kindred is accused, and his life as he has known it up to now is over. He quickly realizes that no one s going to believe that he didn’t kill him since he was the last person to see him alive and his finger prints are on the murder weapon. So he decides to “disappear” leaving his hotel, career, cell phone, bank account, credit cards, everything needed nowadays to function in this modern world. Only long enough he thinks for the police to find the real murderer. He eventually carves out a completely different life for himself with a new name, a passport, and even a credit card. But he realizes that he can’t live like that forever so he has to find out why Wang was murdered to be able to clear his name. It takes a long time for the various parts of the book to come together… it’s not til beyond the mid point of the book that we even find out why he was murdered. It’s a complex story that deals with the pharmaceutical industry, and above all greed. My only criticism is that we’re left wondering some things at the end. But all in all, it’s fascinating, extremely well written, and a real page turner. I’m now on a William Boyd kick but I’ve discovered that most of his other books, except Restless which I’ve already read, are not available. Too bad, wish I’d discovered him sooner.

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