NETHERLAND by Joseph O’Neill

The book jacket of the hard-bound edition is entrancingly deceptive. Printed on what feels like watercolor paper, it shows a colored vignette of men in white playing cricket on a village green watched by spectators relaxing in the shade of a spreading chestnut tree. It could well be the nineteenth century, except that the skyline in the background is Manhattan, and Joseph O’Neill’s novel is set in the first years of the present century. Written in a style of such lucidity that it might almost be an autobiographical memoir, it is the narrative of three years or so in New York City. The protagonist Hans van den Broek, a Dutch-born financial analyst, thirtyish and near the top of his profession, arrives there at the start of the millennium with Rachel, his English wife, herself a high-powered lawyer. But after the attacks of 9/11, Rachel returns to England with their infant son. Hans stays on.

September 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, New York City, Pen Faulkner, World Lit

THE AMATEURS by Marcus Sakey

The titular novices of Marcus Sakey’s recent novel, THE AMATEURS, are four friends, three men and one woman, who band together against the frigidity of Chicago’s winters and the loneliness of urban life to form the Thursday Night Drinking Club. But amateur drinkers these four are not – experts in the art of throwing back martinis, the first thing any of these four do in a time of crisis is reach for a bottle of vodka. If only the same could be said for their foray into the criminal underworld.

August 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Midwest

THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman

Somewhere on the journey from the comfortable upstate college town of Ithaca to the glistening moneyed world of downtown Manhattan, the Burgamots have lost their way.

August 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, NE & New York, New York City, Reading Guide

THE SOLDIER’S WIFE by Margaret Leroy

The quotation shows Margaret Leroy at her best, describing the ordinary routines of everyday life, in a strongly realized setting, and an acute emotional sensitivity. The place is Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands nestling off the French coast between the arms of Normandy and Brittany. The time is 1940, when the islands came under German occupation, after being more or less abandoned by the British as indefensible. The sadness comes from the fact that man of this little farm has been one of the few inhabitants killed in the bombing that preceded the invasion. One of the very few, actually…

June 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, United Kingdom

THE DESCENT OF MAN by Kevin Desinger

THE DESCENT OF MAN could be used as Exhibit A in how to write a taut plot-driven story. The story catches you from the opening line and just never lets you go. If you’re looking for a fast beach read, look no further.

Jim Sandusky is an everyman holding down a steady job when one day, he looks out the window of his house and sees thieves trying to get away with his car. He tells his wife to stay away from the window and call the police, while he goes down to investigate. Instead of leaving the police to take care of the thieves, in a split second, Jim gets into the thieves’ truck and drives it away. What’s worse, he abandons the truck a short distance away and totally bashes it in.

June 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper

THE STRONGER SEX by Hans Werner Kettenbach

The German novel, THE STRONGER SEX, by Hans Werner Kettenbach is ostensibly about a lawsuit–a very grubby lawsuit, but the story is really about the tangled relationships between the people involved in the case. Lawyer Alexander Zabel, in his late twenties, is rather surprised to find himself pressured into representing the elderly, ailing German industrialist, Herbert Klofft in a case involving his former employee, 34-year-old Katharina Fuchs. Katharina, an engineer who has worked in Klofft’s company, Klofft’s Valves, for eleven years was fired after requesting sick leave.

June 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Germany, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Translated, World Lit