Spring is coming slowly this year. It is creeping back from the brink of a brutal, snowy winter. But it is coming. And with it are several interesting titles to read as you sit defiantly on your porch, no matter how chilly it still is.
WILDERNESS OF RUIN by Roseanne Montillo
A compelling true story about a child who terrorized Boston suburbs in the 1870s, Montillo brings together multiple accounts to recreate the era. The first handful of chapters are the strongest — accounts of the crimes, a sense of place and vivid descriptions of the players.
The fire (mentioned in the subtitle) makes only a fleeting appearance in the book and really has no bearing on the main narrative. And after the serial killer is caught (not a spoiler), very little else happens, yet the book continues for several more chapters.
This book suffered a bit from its ideal length. It was probably too long to be encapsulated by a long form journalistic style, but was really too short to be a full length book.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (March 17, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
DECODED by Mai Jia
The writing style of this novel is unlike any I’ve encountered before — and is incredibly unusual for a spy thriller. Born with a natural aptitude for math and puzzles, Rong Jinzhen is noticed by some of his country’s greatest academics. But the Chinese secret service has other plans for him. He becomes a high level cryptographer, despite his autism and unusual childhood.
People were not sure if Rong Jinzhen felt sorry of the lunatic and that is why they played chess together, or whether it was because he admired the other man’s skill. Which it was did not really matter — the point is that a cryptographer does not have time to play chess,. The fact is that the lunatic got that way in the first place because he became too obsessed with his ciphers — they drove him mad in the same way that a balloon that you carry on pumping air into will eventually explode. ~Pg. 154
The book is well-paced and is more human than your usual spy novel.
5.52 x 8.26 inches, 320 pages
Translated from the Chinese by Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne
AUNT DIMITY AND THE SUMMER KING by Nancy Atherton
This book is both easily enjoyable and utter fluff. The 20th in the series of paranormal cozies, Atherton calls upon Lori to unravel the mystery of the reclusive neighbor and the unpurchased village cottages. This being the English countryside, the neighbor is of course the owner of a vast, enviable manor house. The cottages, though quaint and in an adorable town, have gone unsold for many months. Lori, a new mother, uses her free time to figure out the reason for the empty homes.
The funniest scenes are those with the unwanted aunts, who are clearly drawn on Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst with there cutting remarks disguised as good breeding.
This novel follows the “cozy” model in the safest ways. There is no murder. No one even dies of natural causes. The clues and red herrings are heavy-handed. No one is ever in any real danger and the big reveal deflates pretty easily. Still, it is very readable and a nice bit of escapism.
Series: Aunt Dimity
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Viking (April 14, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches