MODEL HOME by Eric Puchner

MODEL HOME by Eric Puchner is a novel that takes place during an eighteen-month period between 1985 and 1986 in the Los Angeles area. It is the story of a family that is trying very hard not to fall apart at the seams. Warren, the dad, is a realtor who has invested all of his family’s savings in a housing development that sits far out in the desert right next to a toxic dump site. His investment has gone belly-up. At first, when his car is repossessed, he tells his family that it was stolen. When the creditors come for his living room furniture, he tells his family that he is tired of leasing furniture and that he has ordered much nicer stuff that will arrive next month. Naturally, Warren is acting strangely.

February 8, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: California, Family Matters


“Irresponsible, spoiled and bourgeois.” One of the characters in THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE, Orhan Pamuk’s new novel, uses these labels to describe a segment of Istanbul’s young adults. These same descriptors could specifically apply to 30-year-old Kemal, the novel’s protagonist. Kemal, part of Istanbul’s upper class, spends his time managing a portion of the family business. He has the privilege of an education in America and as the novel opens, is about to be engaged to Sibel, the daughter of another wealthy family in the city. It’s slated to be a marriage between equals.

December 14, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Middle East, Nobel Prize for Literature, Translated, Turkey, World Lit, y Award Winning Author


Nami Mun’s MILES FROM NOWHERE is a bold and gritty account of a young girl who leaves home at thirteen and experiences life on the streets, rape, addiction, and a series of horrific life events. She writes with no holds barred and her book reminded me in some ways of LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN by Hubert Selby, Jr. It’s has that succinct, in-your-face style of writing that is both riveting and painful at the same time.

December 8, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City, Reading Guide

U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton’s U IS FOR UNDERTOW takes place in 1988, with key flashbacks to 1967, the so-called “Summer of Love.” Kinsey Millhone, who is thirty-seven, is the veteran of two failed marriages and has no desire to take the plunge again. Most of her time is devoted to her work as a private investigator, and she occasionally socializes with a small group of friends, including her eighty-eight year old landlord, Henry Pitts. Henry is Kinsey’s confidante and surrogate grandfather.

December 1, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, California, Family Matters, Sleuths Series, y Award Winning Author

QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE by Max Allan Collins

Writers are always telling each other to steal, but cover your tracks. So it’s funny that Max Allan Collins, in his new novel QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE, has decided to blatantly admit his inspiration by way of three epigrams at the beginning of the book. The epigrams are quotes from Dashiell Hammett, Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone, one novelist and two film directors who each told stories about lawless men who played one gang of criminals against another in the hope of getting paid by each. Perhaps Collins thought his rip off was too blatant and it was better to display rather than hide his appropriations. This was unnecessary because QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE stands very well on it’s own and merely nods to the works of these other artists.

October 27, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Noir, Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Midwest, y Award Winning Author


I offer the above quote, a pithy economic assessment of race, not because I find it particularly compelling, though I think it is; nor because it summarizes the plot of this novel; it does not. Rather, it’s there because this novel reads surprisingly like a well-argued survey of American race relations in the 1980s–that it also happens to be a page-turning noir thriller is all the better.

September 4, 2009 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Debut Novel, Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Texas