Title: The Cartographer of No Man’s Land
Author: P. S. Duffy. This is her first novel, she is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Readers: Consultant Alila, bookkeeper Tykira, teacher Ninian and research assistant Rosie T.
Summary: When adventurous Ebbin goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and search for his beloved brother-in-law. With his navigation experience, Angus is assured a position as a cartographer in London. But upon arriving overseas he is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his perceptive son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone expressing less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war.
Our Take: Straight A’s for this historical novel. Whether you’re a WWI buff or just someone who likes historical fiction or enjoys novels of family our readers heartily recommend this book.
Title: Lookaway, Lookaway
Author: Wilton Barnhardt
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Readers: Blogger From Grind to Whine Stacey, lawyer Abby R., research assistant Rosie T., stay-at-home mom Emry and small business owner Samantha.
Summary: Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband Duke are exemplars of Charlotte, North Carolina’s high society, where old Southern money—and older Southern secrets—meet the new wealth of bankers, boom-era speculators, and carpetbagging social climbers. Steely and implacable, Jerene presides over her family’s legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum; Duke, the one-time college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, whose promising political career was mysteriously short-circuited, has settled into a comfortable semi-senescence as a Civil War re-enactor. Jerene’s brother Gaston is an infamously dissolute bestselling historical novelist who has never managed to begin his long-dreamed-of literary masterpiece, while their sister Dillard is a prisoner of unfortunate life decisions that have made her a near-recluse.
As the four Johnston children wander perpetually toward scandal and mishap. Annie, the smart but matrimonially reckless real estate maven; Bo, a minister at war with his congregation; Joshua, prone to a series of gay misadventures, and Jerilyn, damaged but dutiful to her expected role as debutante and eventual society bride. Jerene must prove tireless in preserving the family’s legacy, Duke’s fragile honor, and what’s left of the dwindling family fortune. She will stop at nothing to keep what she has—but is it too much to ask for one ounce of cooperation from her heedless family?
Our Take: This is one of those books that depends a lot on the reader. Either you connect with the characters and enjoy the book, or you find them insufferable and you don’t like the book. It’s a bit of a crap shoot, but if a novel about a dysfunctional Southern family sounds up your alley you may want to give it a try.
Title: The Morels
Author: Christopher Hacker. This is his first novel.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Readers: Librarian Mary Liz, research assistant Rosie T., publishing professional Gigi and blogger Jessica.
Summary: The Morels─Arthur, Penny, and Will─are a happy family of three living in New York City. So why would Arthur choose to publish a book that brutally rips his tightly knit family unit apart at the seams? Arthur’s old schoolmate Chris, who narrates the book, is fascinated with this very question as he becomes accidentally reacquainted with Arthur. A single, aspiring filmmaker who works in a movie theater, Chris envies everything Arthur has, from his beautiful wife to his charming son to his seemingly effortless creativity. But things are not always what they seem.
The Morels takes a unique look at the power of art─literature, music and film in particular─and challenges us as readers to think about some fascinating questions to which there are no easy answers. Where is the line between art and obscenity, between truth and fiction, between revolutionary thinking and brainless shock value, between craftsmanship and commerce? Is it possible to escape the past? Can you save your family by destroying it?
Book: The Art Forger
Author: B. A. Shapiro, she is the author of several previous thrillers.
Genre: Commercial Fiction, Mystery
Reviewers: JoLee and Renee in higher education, retiree Nancy, event planner Kathy and research assistant Rosie T.
Publisher Summary: In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers bound and gagged two guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, and stole thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million. Despite thousands of hours of police work and a $5 million reward, the artwork has never been recovered. Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
After a scandal involving the provenance of an acclaimed modern painting derails Claire Roth’s career, the promising young Boston artist, now a pariah in the art world, makes a living reproducing famous works of art for the popular online retailer, Reproductions.com. In a desperate move to improve her situation, Claire makes a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner, to forge a Degas masterpiece stolen during the Gardner Museum heist, the largest unsolved art theft in history, in return for a one-woman show at his gallery. Their romantic entanglement adds danger to their business arrangement and heightens the possibility of betrayal as each struggles to achieve the end that initially drove them into their illegal pact.
But when the long-missing Degas painting—the one which had been hanging for 100 years at the Gardner Museum—is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may not be the original, but a forgery itself. As she begins her search for the truth about the painting’s origins and its possible link to a secret relationship between Edgar Degas and Isabella Stewart Gardner–revealed to the reader through Isabella’s letters to her niece—Claire finds herself in a breathless race through a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may hold the key to the mysteries of the present.
Book: The Hollow Man
Author: Oliver Harris
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Reviewers: Librarian Zoë, research tech Rosie T., victim advocate MJ, University administrator Stacie and event coordinator Kathy.
Publisher Summary: Waking up on Hampstead Heath not far from a crashed squad car, Detective Nick Belsey wants out—out of London and out of the endless complications of his life. When Alexei Devereux, a wealthy hermit, vanishes, leaving behind a suicide note and his Porsche, Belsey discovers an opportunity—a new identity and a fortune—waiting for the taking.
Unfortunately, there are others who share the detective’s interest in Devereux, including Scotland Yard. A dead rich man with suspicious financial holdings is bound to have some dangerous ties and a few ruthless enemies. Now, Belsey and his clever plan are about to be overshadowed by far more ambitious players with their own brilliant—and deadly—scheme.