Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fiction: With a Different Spin

Zodiac: A Novel - Sam Wilson (Pegasus)

In San Celeste, “What’s your sign?” isn’t just a bad 1970s pick up line, it truly is a way of life; the determining factor on what your life will be like. That is the backdrop for the startling good new thriller, Zodiac: A Novel, by South African writer Sam Wilson. A television writer and program developer, this is Wilson’s first foray into novels

Wilson does a wonderful job of setting the setting of the story, where birth determines your place in society and is binding for life. Utopia spins off its axis when a serial killer starts to perpetrate brutal crimes that ignore the societal set up by crossing all boundaries. Wilson gets a little new age CSI with the introduction of astrological profiler Lindi Childs working side by side with detective Jerome Burton to unlock the mystery and solve these heinous murders. While clearly bound to fantasy, Zodiac delivers some very realistic and entertaining goods.

I See You – Clare Mackintosh (Berkley)
Imagine…you ritual commute home includes perusing the local paper and things take a different turn, when suddenly you find yourself staring at a picture of yourself in the classifieds. Then things get really strange when different women pop up in the advertisements and the common thread is they all are victims of crime.

That is the set up for British novelist Clare Mackintosh’s second psychological thriller, I See You. Mackintosh puts to good use her experience as a police officer and criminal investigator by lacing the story with just the right amount of realistic police work, but she doesn’t let it get in the way of driving the story’s suspense. She does a masterful job of keeping you guessing right to the end.

Clownfish Blues: A Novel – Tim Dorsey
What is it about the state of Florida? Is it something in the water? Is the combination of salt water, sand and heat that goes into the cooking up of the gathering of quirky, entertaining writers that the state has spawned? You can count Tim Dorsey among that gang of folks who spin not only twisty-turny yarns, but also know how to deliver characters from the different side, mixed with a healthy dose of laughs.

Dorsey’s latest, Clownfish Blues delves once again into the sun soaked mind of Serge Storms as he and sidekick, the perpetually fatty stoke Coleman along for the ride as they retrace “Route 66” (don’t let the fact that that famous motorway doesn’t actually find its way to F-L-A) as Storms learns that the iconic 60s TV show filmed a series of episodes in the Sunshine State. The duo, along with usual cast of colorful characters, flames and thugs are along for the thoroughly quixotic ride.

The Lost Book of the Grail: A Novel – Charlie Lovett (Viking Books)
For those of us who love to read, there is just something special about holding a book and turning the pages as you delve into the story. With apologies to the folks at Amazon and other tablet purveyors, that feeling will never be a part of clutching an electronic device like a Kindle. It is that love affair with books, set against the digital age that is the stage for Charlie Lovett’s latest book, The Lost Book of the Grail.

To say that Arthur Prescott is old school, may be a sizable understatement. Prescott chafes at the thought of a college level Harry Potter course in an era when the Bard is all but a memory. When a young American girl, Bethany Davis arrives at Prescott’s beloved Barchester Cathedral Library to begin the process of digitizing the library’s collection of manuscripts he is more than a little put off.

Then comes the twist of a search for a missing manuscript. That adventure is truly befitting the grail-like hunt. While the pace starts out on the glacial side, understand up front that the set up is worth the wait as the adventure is worthy of a book lover like Lovett.   

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