Five can’t miss books for your fall reading list

by G. Robert Frazier

Here’s a roundup of my latest book reviews. All good reads, but if I had to pick a favorite from the bunch I’d go with Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay.

Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay

Parting ShotFrom the opening pages, Barclay lays out the hook: Brian Gaffney, a naive and innocent looking young man, arrives at the Promise Falls police station babbling about having been abducted, possibly by aliens, and having lost two days of his memories.

Detective Barry Duckworth begrudgingly takes the case and soon discovers there’s much more to Gaffney than he initially thought: specifically, a fresh tattoo on his back that seems to be a cryptic confession to murder.

Duckworth has plenty to sort out here, and readers will be eager to go along for the ride. Did Gaffney really kill someone? If so, who? Where’s the body? Why can’t Gaffney remember the past two days? Was he really abducted?

There’s much more to it, of course, or it wouldn’t be a Barclay book.

Click here for my full review.

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

A new Nelson DeMille book typically means readers are in for nail-biting action, a high The Cuban Affairstakes plot, a romantic diversion and wry, witty humor. The Cuban Affair satisfies all of those criteria, and ups the ante with a unique setting, the communist island nation itself.

At the root of the novel is a quest to recover 60 million dollars in funds hidden away during Castro’s revolution. Cuban-American Sara Ortega entices ex-Army officer Daniel Graham MacCormick—better known as Mac—away from his idyllic retirement as a charter fishing boat captain based in Key West to provide transport for the funds back to America. Getting onto the island is easy. But once there, their every move is being watched, the Cuban police are poised to close in and treachery awaits at every turn.

Click here for my full review.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Reservoir 13After a young girl—Rebecca or Becky or Bex Shaw—goes missing on New Year’s Eve on the frozen moors of an unnamed English village, the community members each must deal with her loss in their own way. Some mourn longer than others. Some have constant dreams and fears of what may have befallen her. Others hold onto the slimmest of hopes that she will be found safe and sound. Most manage to let go and move on, even though the hurt of that day always remains. Jon McGregor chronicles it all over a period of 13 long, tiresome years in Reservoir 13.

Despite the unusual style—no direct dialogue and no paragraph breaks here—McGregor’s lyrical prose and sense of detail totally immerse the reader. Reaching the end of a chapter is like coming up for a brief gulp of air before diving in to see what happens next.

The novel was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Click here for my full review.

Savage Country by Robert Olmstead

Savage CountryA rattlesnake causes a horse to throw its rider. A lightning bolt strikes a man sitting by a campfire. A rabid skunk bites another man in the face, giving him rabies. A flash flood threatens to sweep away men and supplies both. Racial tensions escalate among workers. The remnants of an Indian massacre are found. And thousands of buffalo are casually slaughtered day after day.

It’s a savage country.

Or, to be more precise, it’s Savage Country, the new novel by Robert Olmstead. The acclaimed author of Coal Black Horse, which won the Heartland Prize for Fiction, Olmstead weaves a grim, visceral portrait of life in Midwest America in 1873 with powerful, brutal and often beautiful prose.

Click here for my full review.

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

Lightning MenThe line between right and wrong quickly blurs in Thomas Mullen’s new novel, Lightning Men. The follow-up to his intensely powerful story of Atlanta’s first black cops, Darktown, his latest picks up two years later, in 1950, but is well-crafted enough to stand on its own.

This time, black police officers Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith stumble upon a shipment of moonshine and marijuana destined for their traditionally black neighborhood. When they attempt to apprehend the white suspects—despite black officers not being allowed to arrest whites—a deadly shootout ensues, leaving one man dead and dozens of questions unanswered.

Lightning Men transcends typical genre stories by highlighting the real-life racial divide of 1950s Atlanta that is rarely discussed, but should never be forgotten.

Click here for my full review.

 

 


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