As Memorial Day approaches, it feels appropriate to post my review of Andrew Krivak's new novel, "Like the Appearance of Horses." I mentioned the book a month ago as a recommended read, so the title may sound familiar. The story is about a family in which a grandfather, father, and son participate in the World Wars and the U.S. Vietnam War. The focus is not on combat, but on the profound connection among those who experience war’s many dimensions. Here's why I recommend this novel.
Category: Book Review
Art theft, espionage, and murder in WWII London
"Dead in the Water" is the new installment in Mark Ellis's WWII series featuring Scotland Yard’s DCI Frank Merlin. Smart and unpredictable, it’s a superior stand-alone detective/thriller novel with layers of fascinating characters, intrigue over Leonardo da Vinci rare drawings, and, with the Americans newly arrived, complications.
A sylvan delight: “The Forest” by Alexander Nemerov
This new book, set during Jacksonian America, seduced me with surprising ease. Its impressive, sometimes dramatic, sometimes reflective episodic tales fascinate with their combined historic and invented characters from the 1830s. Here's a brief review.
“Two Thousand Million Man-Power” by Gertrude Trevelyan
Gertrude Trevelyan is a British author whose novels were among the best published in the 1930s; however, they disappeared after her death in 1941. Today her work is being rediscovered, including this memorable novel that was first published to critical acclaim in 1937. It was one of my top favorites for 2022. Once forgotten, it now deserves lots of attention, even if I'm repeating myself. Here's a review.
“The world does not know that you are here.”
The world certainly knows Cormac McCarthy's new novel "The Passenger" is here. A 16-year wait for his fans, of which I have not been one until now, hooked irrevocably. His characters herein are geniuses, and so is this author. Here's what “The Passenger” is all about.
The unsung life of a famous painter
Award-winning author Steve Stern has a new novel out called "The Village Idiot." It creatively recounts the life of the renowned early 20th century Russian-French artist Chaim Soutine, whose paintings now reside in art institutions around the world. The story powerfully imagines the inner life of this genius. Here's a review.
“The Half Life of Valery K” by Natasha Pulley
A nuclear specialist is mysteriously transferred from a Siberian labor camp to an unnamed Soviet city. His assignment exposes him to an irradiated environment that resident scientists and the KGB deny. So begins a complex drama in Natasha Pulley’s newest fiction set in 1963. Here's a review.
Controlled perception: a 20th century tycoon’s life
Hernan Diaz's new novel "Trust" is getting a lot of attention, and it's not surprising. The book creatively embraces the distortions power and wealth enable, bending reality. It's a story that leaves its mark, long remembered after the last page. Here's a review.
Lost man at sea, lost novel recovered
"Gentleman Overboard" by Herbert Clyde Lewis published in 1937 slipped into forgotten books land as so many good books do (and shouldn't) until it was rescued. It's the story of Henry Preston Standish, who finds himself floating in the Pacific Ocean, sure the ship he fell off of will turn around and pick him up. It's ingenious tragicomedy with an objective. You've got to read it.
The story of a boy who studied with Bach
Author James Runcie is best known for his Sidney Chambers Mysteries, which have been turned into the popular PBS Grantchester series (one of my favorites) on MASTERPIECE. He’s written a new book called "The Great Passion" that’s not a mystery but historical fiction. It answers a question about the famous Baroque composer J.S. Bach. Here's what it’s all about.
Paris’s 19th century institutionalized female hysterics
The Salpêtrière hospital in Paris functioned as a city within a city, an enclosed asylum for women whose nerves were shot. That's my modern speak for what then neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot termed hysteria. In "City of Incurable Women," author Maud Casey lets their stories be known. Read more about her new book here.
A psychological page-turner brilliantly crafted
A chance encounter at an airport and a delayed flight together offer the perfect opportunity for a man to tell the story of how he rescued a drowning swimmer and what came after, a story he’s never shared with anyone. Prepare to stay up all night (or to drop everything) to read “Mouth to Mouth,” Antoine Wilson’s newest novel, a story within a story that explores themes of deception and manipulation. Read the review here.
Mahmood Mattan’s tragic story
"The Fortune Men" is a fictionalized account of a gross miscarriage of justice that sent a Somali sailor to the gallows in 1952 Cardiff, Wales. Shortlisted for Britain’s 2021 Booker and Costa literary awards, it’s received much attention and praise. Here’s a review.
A man walks into a tacky hotel
"Winter in Sokcho" by Elisa Shua Dusapin tells the story of a stranger arriving in an isolated South Korean fishing village. He’s a graphic novelist looking for peace and quiet to complete his final book in a series. The unnamed narrator, who works at the guesthouse where he takes a room, becomes his tour guide, and also his unexpected emotional life reckoning. Her voice is enticing. Read more here about this award-winning novel.
The sad, mad world of housewives in the 1960’s and 70’s
Author Hilma Wolitzer has gained a reputation as one of our best fiction writers who, according to The Washington Post, “raises ordinary people and everyday occurrences to a new height.” Thirteen stories are collected for the first time in her new book since their publication in magazines during the 1960s and '70s. They're funny, heartrending treasures about an unforgettable couple, Paulette and Howard, and others. Read more about them, here.