Monday, May 10, 2010

What's In Your Mailbox

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To

DC Pierson

Fifteen-year-old Darren Bennett lives in an entirely recognizable teenage world: he's obsessed with science fiction and video games, bullied by his older brother, and completely baffled by the opposite sex. On the other hand, Darren's new, socially awkward best friend, Eric Lederer, lives a life unrecognizable to everyone: Eric can't sleep, at all, ever, a revelation he shares with Darren in strictest confidence. After overcoming his shock, Darren delights in exploring Eric's anomalous condition through a series of trials involving, among other things, roofies. When a typical high school fight over a girl leads Darren to tell a stranger about Eric's bizarre secret, Darren is caught up in the kind of fight-for-your-life adventure he so often daydreams about. Combining a coming-of-age tale with science fiction, Pierson performs a nimble, satisfying balancing act, with enough drama of the day-to-day high school variety to keep the more fantastic elements in check. The result is a fast-moving narrative with an authentic, heartfelt voice, plenty of laughs and spot-on cultural references, and a raucous climax.

Miscarriage of Justice

Kip Gayden

A tragic love story that begins at a Tennessee Christian summer camp in 1896. There, pastor's daughter Anna Dennis, 16, and Walter Dotson, a third-year Vanderbilt medical student, fall hard for each other. By winter, he's interning at her local hospital, and their courtship and early married life—including a stint in Vienna, where daughter Mabel is born—have all the trappings of a conventional romance. By 1908, the family numbers four and settles in Gallatin, Tenn., near Anna and Walter's hometowns, but a miscarriage sets the stage for murder and scandal. Gayden's writing in the romance sections is flat and unconvincing, but perks up in the last quarter, when the novel goes full-on procedural, delivering the murder trial and the related media coverage in close detail. The trial, based on real events, is intriguing, the verdict unexpected and period detail adds depth.

Snow Angels: A Inspector Vaara Novel

James Thompson

Just before Christmas, the bleakest time of the year in Lapland. The unrelenting darkness and extreme cold above the Arctic Circle drive everyone just a little insane . . . perhaps enough to kill.

A beautiful Somali immigrant is found dead in a snowfield, her body gruesomely mutilated, a racial slur carved into her chest. Heading the murder investigation is Inspector Kari Vaara, the lead detective of the small-town police force. The vicious killing may have been a hate crime, a sex crime-or one and the same. Vaara knows he must keep this potentially ex­plosive case out of the national headlines or else it will send shock waves across Finland, an insular nation afraid to face its own xenophobia.

The demands of the investigation begin to take their toll on Vaara and his marriage. His young American wife, Kate, newly pregnant with their first child, is struggling to adapt to both the unforgiving Arctic climate and the Finnish culture of silence and isolation. Meanwhile Vaara himself, haunted by his rough childhood and failed first marriage, discovers that the past keeps biting at his heels: He suspects that the rich man for whom his ex-wife left him years ago may be the killer.

Endless night can drive anyone to murder.


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