As winter drags on (dratted groundhog, why did you have to see your shadow?) I can’t help but turn towards my favorite source of comfort: books.
Of course, in this weather, the accompanying hot drink of the moment helps, too.
Since I have long finished my pile of fiction books (the non-fiction pile is a whole other matter), I have decided to treat myself to a couple of new titles. But here is the problem: there are far, far too many that look way, way too good for me to choose.
Here are the books bound to give me a headache before I break down and purchase all of them:
Run for Your Life, by James Patterson: I love James Patterson, and am always willing to give his books a chance, but this one I might have picked up even if his name didn’t grace the cover. Judge for yourself: A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant. His message is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York”s elite, it is a call to terror. Only one man can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Mike Bennett. The pressure is enough for anyone, but Mike also has to care for his 10 children-all of whom have come down with virulent flu at once! Discovering a secret pattern in The Teacher”s lessons, Detective Bennett realizes he has just hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history.
The Hour I first believed, by Wally Lamb: ‘Introspective’ and ‘biting humor’? I’m in! Wally Lamb’s two previous novels (…) struck a chord with readers. They responded to the intensely introspective nature of the books, and to their lively narrative styles and biting humor. (…) In his new novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. (…) When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues. While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family’s house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum’s own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface. As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary—and American.
The Anatomy of Deception, by Lawrence Goldstone: In the tradition of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, this mesmerizing forensic thriller thrusts the reader into the operating rooms, drawing rooms, and back alleys of 1889 Philadelphia, as a doctor grapples with the principles of scientific process to track a daring killer. In the morgue of a Philadelphia hospital, physicians uncover the corpse of a beautiful young woman. What they see takes their breath away. Within days, one doctor, Ephraim Carroll, strongly suspects that he knows the woman’s identity. . .and the horrifying events that led to her death. But in this richly atmospheric debut novel – an ingenious blend of history, suspense, and early forensic science – the most compelling chapter is yet to come, as the young doctor is plunged into a maze of murder, secrets, and unimaginable crimes. Peopled with vibrant real-life characters such as Canadian William Osler, hailed as the Father of Modern Medicine; famed surgeon William Stewart Halsted, who performed the first emergency blood transfusion and invented surgical gloves; and the controversial painter Thomas Eakins, The Anatomy of Deception brings to life a little-known and exciting turning-point in American medical history, when ignorant butchery gave way to intelligent surgery–and a young doctor is forced to confront an agonizing moral choice between exposing a killer, undoing a wrong, and, quite possibly, protecting the future of medicine itself.
Scarpetta, by Patricia Cornwell: Another author whose books I am always willing to give a chance; if you have never read her, I’d strongly suggest you get yourself a library card and work your way through her Kay Scarpetta series – it’s worth every minute. Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard. The injuries, he says, were sustained in the course of a murder… that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed and stalked by the actual killer? The one thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered and more violent deaths will follow. Gradually, an inexplicable and horrifying truth emerges: Whoever is committing the crimes knows where his prey is at all times. Is it a person, a government? And what is the connection between the victims?
Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade, by Patrick Dennis: Wildly successful when it was first published in 1955, Patrick Dennis’ Auntie Mame sold over two million copies and stayed put on the New York Times bestseller list for 112 weeks. It was made into a play, a Broadway as well as a Hollywood musical, and a fabulous movie starring Rosalind Russell. Since then, Mame has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of Great and Important People as the world’s most beloved, madcap, devastatingly sophisticated, and glamorous aunt. She is impossible to resist, and this hilarious story of an orphaned ten-year-old boy sent to live with his aunt is as delicious a read in the twenty-first century as it was in the 1950s.