Archive for January, 2013

Well, Well… The Word is Out!

Fans of Dan Brown, who enjoyed Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, will be able to pick up his long-awaited new Robert Langdon novel Inferno on May 14th. Will there be hype… you bet ya!

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This is another whopper - in size, in scope, and in enjoyment. I really liked it. Capital by John Lanchester is definitely a book you can sink your teeth into, which makes it perfect for our long, cold, dark winter nights. Set in London, the story starts when all the inhabitants of Pepys Road, in a neighbourhood where property values have risen significantly over the years, receive a postcard in the mail with a photo of their house on the front and the words “we want what you’ve got” on the back.  As the story unfolds we learn all about the inhabitants tucked inside these homes. Varied as they all are, they have one thing in common – those postcards. And for the longest time, the postcards are on the backburner of the story as we become engrossed in the lives of Petunia Howe (the eldest resident on the street), Roger & Arabella Yount (the wealthiest), Rohinka & Ahmed Kamal (the Pakistani shop owners), and Freddy Kamo (the wonderboy of soccer recently arrived from Senegal) - to name just a few. Lanchester is a fantastic writer, he weaves a terrific story, and there’s lots of humour to make you chuckle (real dry, British wit!). I found the whole issue of the postcards became secondary because you become so engrossed in the lives of his characters. Fortunes are made and lost, dreams become nightmares, terminal illness strikes, and people may not be who they seem. It’s all fascinating. The chapters are short, often switching from character to character, and I like that. Even thought the book is 527 pages long it never got boring, and I never once wanted to give up. In fact, I didn’t want it to end.

By the way, I love it when British words entice me to check out Google… for example – I looked up “Oyster Cards” and “bugaboos” both unknown to me, to see what they were. Oyster cards are the electronic form of ticketing used on the London transit, and bugaboos are a brand of “pushchairs” (another British word) which are baby strollers.

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The Dead of Winter

What a lucky find!… a new Montreal writer, Peter Kirby, who sets his book, The Dead of Winter, over Christmastime, and I get to read it while visiting the kids during the holidays. For me, timing is everything. Call me weird if you want, but snow and Christmas certainly wouldn’t appeal to me if I was looking for a book to read at the beach. Luckily I spotted a review of Kirby’s book a few weeks prior to Christmas and I knew I’d have to tuck it away to read while waiting for Santa and his team to appear. 5 homeless people have been discovered dead at various locations in snowy downtown Montreal, and although all deaths seem to be natural, Inspector Luc Vanier of Montreal’s finest, is called upon to investigate. Autopsies soon reveal that all did not die a natural death and clues, including a suspicious Santa, lead him into the shelters, soup kitchens, and back alleys of Montreal, as well as the back rooms and boardrooms of the Catholic Church and the business elite. Kirby’s descriptions of the city are bang-on. Especially the snow removal, it filled my mind with vivid images from my past. He even rants a bit about social issues like the treatment of the homeless, and the Church as well, giving the book more depth than your average cosy murder mystery. He’s a talented writer, and I’m totally impressed with his first book. And I loved the cover. I hope he intends to continue this as a series and Luc Vanier shows up over and over again. I’m hooked! What Robert Rotenberg does for Toronto, Peter Kirby does for Montreal. Read it and see for yourself. It’s the perfect start to your New Year’s reading.

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