PositiveThe Star Tribune\'Hear my tale,\' howls Mary Shelley’s monster across a frozen wasteland in Frankenstein ... Lucien’s story, Maltman’s novel (like Shelley’s), is a spiritual quest for meaning, a lamentation on loneliness, and a tense tale of the infectious nature of \'paranoia and fear.\' If you ask me, it’s a parable for our time ... The novel is rich with biblical and literary imagery. A few times there’s too much exposition, but Lucien’s search for meaning (and for Maura) quickly moved me beyond those moments ... when I finished reading I was reminded not of Shakespeare, or Shelley, or even the Bible, but of James Joyce. In Joyce’s novella, The Dead, Gabriel, the main character, watches the snow fall outside his window when \'his soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe … upon the living and the dead.\'
James Lee Burke
PositiveThe Star TribuneHumanity\'s \'predilection for inhumanity\' is a dominant strand in the DNA of all James Lee Burke\'s novels, particularly his exceptional series featuring Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux, of which A Private Cathedral is the 24th ... Like all Burke\'s novels, this one is lush and lyrical and poignant and pretty damn brutal. It\'s a journey into Robicheaux\'s heart of darkness and America\'s.
RaveThe Star TribuneEach mesmerizing story in Benjamin Percy’s latest collection is rooted in the uncanny, where the familiar is freaky and the impossible \'a white smear rising out of the darkness.\' But even in Percy’s eeriest tales, compassion and wry humor infuse the narratives. Suicide Woods is more Stranger Things than Twilight Zone, closer to King than Kafka, and it’s as entertaining as whatever chilling show you’re bingeing on Netflix right now ... In each one of Percy’s stories, the settings are alive ... You’ve been warned.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneIn Autumn, Kalisha Buckhanon has created a narrative voice that’s authentic, emotionally charged and wise, but beneath the surface of the story lurks the unraveling of a life and how \'even the biological imperative to survive\' can sometimes lose against the \'power of past experiences.\' Buckhanon has crafted a deeply moving psychological mystery with twists that come in unhurried moments like the small notes the sisters buried in bottles in their garden shed. I’m going to be talking about Summer for a while.
RaveMinneapolis Star Tribune\"... [While reading, I became aware] that I was reading a complex surreal saga that demanded serious attention and that I was reading something new and remarkable ... The novel’s settings are stunning in their detail and expansive in their geography, but it’s James’ creative flexing of the oral tradition of storytelling as the novel’s backbone and his gender-fluid, omnisexual main character, Tracker, that may well make this novel a standard-bearer for future fantasies ... James skillfully and often humorously plays off of [classic] traditions in his allusions.\
PositiveMilwaukee Journal SentinelIf you enjoy the ironic wit and criminal adventures of Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr, then you’ll want to read Timothy Hallinan’s Nighttown ... Junior Bender is one of my favorite fictional felons and Hallinan is a writer with the kind of heart and healthy cynicism that I admire ... Another of the pleasures of reading Hallinan is he’s a pretty literate dude too.
RaveMinneapolis Star Tribune...[an] evocative new thriller ... This psychological thriller is a triumph on two fronts: its evocative northern Minnesota setting, and the forthright voice of Maya Stark, its narrator ... Along with the breathtaking descriptions of the Boundary Waters...Mejia also evokes Duluth, its people and the \'absolute reign of Superior\' with humility and humor ... Maya is such a refreshing change from the trend of unreliable \'girls\' in current thrillers.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneIn clipped, stylish prose, Mick Herron’s sly, twisty, bullet-paced narrative tracks Maggie’s journey from a skittish participant in her own life to a reluctant recruit in something diabolical. Suddenly, Maggie’s life becomes a Patricia Highsmith story.
RaveThe Minneapolis StarWith compassion and understanding, Sujata Massey’s narrative shifts between Perveen’s anguished past and the plight of the widows, unveiling fascinating details about the complicated, dutiful lives of women in Bombay. Massey draws an especially poignant and ironic analogy between Perveen’s struggle to succeed against her culture’s misogyny while India struggles against the vestiges of its colonial rulers.
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal-SentinelTwo bodies have been discovered near Geneva Sweet’s café in Lark, Texas: a black man and a white woman. You may think you know where Locke will take you given that premise, and you’d be a little right. Nobody’s ‘thinking about that black man … not when a white girl comes up dead.’ But you’d also be a lot wrong. Here’s why. This is a layered portrait of a black man confronting his own racial ambivalence and ambition told with a pointed and poignant bluesy lyricism … Locke’s novel is America ‘telling on itself.’ Listen up.
MixedThe Minneapolis Star TribuneIf The Passage is the trilogy's Genesis, this second book, The Twelve, is its Exodus, a complex narrative of flight and forgiveness, of great suffering and staggering loss, of terrible betrayals and incredible hope. But whereas The Passage sets its philosophy, allegory and fictional artifice on the backbone of a terrific blood-curdling thriller, in The Twelve, the suspense is hobbled beneath a crushing burden of too many time jumps and too many characters … No doubt Cronin is a prophetic and passionate writer, capturing a world of ‘emotional incontinence’ where ‘the drive to kill’ has become our nature, where ‘humanity [is] dissolving and taking its stories with it,’ and where ‘the journey [has] acquired its own meaning, independent of any destination.’ And so if The Twelve is humanity's wandering in the proverbial wasteland, then the novel's ending suggests the final book in the trilogy will be a revelation.
PanThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelThis is a convincingly rendered world — at times harrowing and hilarious (the Crakers have ‘built in insect-repellant’ when bugs are the least of their problems). With moments of psychological precision, Atwood explores the nature of evolution, the need for humans to lose their ‘grinning, elemental malice,’ and how a civilization must transcend its destructive past. But, unfortunately, the narrative is cumbersome, even silly at times (not in a good way). Characters become unintentional caricatures and eventually the story devolves into elusive fractured vignettes.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribunePercy’s premise is disturbing enough, but add to it a masterful crafting of scary scenes strewn with gruesome details, a tough 12-year-old blind girl with a 'retinal prosthesis' able to manipulate the matrix, and a subtext exploring the effects of a world becoming enslaved to its technologies and you have a horror story for our times ... The narrative’s pace stalls at times from too much exposition about supernatural theories and occultists like Aleister Crowley, and about aspects of technology easily inferred from context. And Percy’s penchant for poetic prose — usually a strength of his style — was distracting here. But The Dark Net is still a frightening novel.
Stieg Larsson, Translated by Reg Keeland
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelThe girl with the dragon tattoo is one of many intriguing characters you'll encounter in Stieg Larsson's mesmerizing not-to-be-missed Swedish mystery ... Her name is Lisbeth Salander and she has a gift. She can unearth a secret no matter how deeply buried. And there are a lot of them in this novel ... Another compelling character, Mikael Blomkvist, is the novel's protagonist and the story's amateur detective ... putting aside his work at the magazine he owns, Millenium, to explore Harriet's disappearance with fresh eyes. Eventually, Salander joins his investigation and the deepening relationship between Blomkvist and Salander is fascinating and a bit disturbing ... It's a smart financial thriller, a believable if unconventional love story, and a family saga laced with enough betrayals, treachery and just plain sibling nastiness that, as one character says, the Vangers 'make Shakespeare's tragedies' seem like 'light entertainment.'
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelThe ‘earth is dying’ and most people either live in ‘stacks’ – Lego-like high-rises of trailers soldered together – or are ‘starving and homeless.’ To escape this dismal reality, everyone jacks into the virtual world of OASIS, a utopian universe ‘where anything was possible’ … He becomes the reader's avatar, navigating us through the novel's ‘multilevel labyrinth’ of settings, leading us across the virtual planets in his spaceship, Vonnegut, solving riddles and playing games on the quest for Halliday's egg … One of my favorite parts of this book is the astonishing amount of detail that Cline has constructed in the OASIS...I grinned at the sheer audacity of Cline's imagination when he'd weave a nerdy detail or clever geeky reference into this super-sized story.
PanThe Minneapolis Star TribuneIt pains me (truly) to have to write this next sentence. King's 11/22/63 is a boring read … For five years, Jake tracks Oswald's movements, and it's this part that made me yawn. King has thoroughly researched this period of U.S. history, but it bogs down his story...the pages and pages of Oswald's domestic dramas and the chapters and chapters of the comings and goings of others involved in shaping his twisted psyche were just not that interesting.
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelNick Petrie’s thrilling Burning Bright transported me to the woods of northern California and the wilds of Washington state and I loved every page of this adrenaline-fueled journey. In fact, a beginning chase scene in the redwoods is not only breathtaking, it’s also one of the most original action scenes I’ve read ... It’s a formula Lee Child has driven into the ground. Thankfully, Petrie’s charging it with new life.
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel...an enlightening mystery that travels in a fascinating time and place. Hart imagines life in 18th century China with measured grace in her pacing and elegance in her prose.
PanThe Minneapolis Star TribuneI loved The Alienist, so it pains me to write that Carr’s Surrender, New York, despite tackling these same general themes in a contemporary setting, has little suspense and few thrills. I blame Carr’s narrator. Dr. Trajan Jones, a profiler walking in the alienist’s intellectual footsteps, is unlikable (not in any good way). His dialogue is pedantic and his point of view is thick with righteous indignation.
PositiveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelTold in first person from Nora's perspective (and in present tense), this psychologically intense and darkly atmospheric mystery reminded me of Patricia Highsmith in its vivid style and toxic substance. I was completely drawn into Nora's grief as it propelled her on a hunt for the killer, so much so that even when I knew something was a bit off-kilter I was too committed to Nora to care.