Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Gods of Gotham, Lyndsay Faye, Historical Fiction.    The Gods of Gotham tells about a tumultuous time in New York's history - the influx of Irish immigrants due to the potato famine and the formation of the city's first police force.  Timothy Wilde wakes in his brother's house after being dragged from a fire to find that he has lost his home, savings, and a part of his face, but thanks to his brother, he has a new job as a roundsman in the Sixth Ward.  Timothy Wilde notices things.  Before the second fire that shapes Tim's life, he worked in a bar for years, and he observes and listens, and learns things about the people around him.  However, we come to find in the unspooling of Fayes' tale that Timothy doesn't know as much about the people closest to him that he thought.  As a new "copper star" Tim witnesses horrifying events, but none like the mass grave that a blood-soaked young girl leads him to discover.  As Timothy works to solve the mystery of the murders, the pressure on his brother as Democratic party leader cranks ever higher, and the stakes become life and death for Tim and the people he cares about.  Faye's hero story shows us that the tales have remained the same - prostitution, murder, betrayal, love, and determination - and the hope of a man that some good can remain in the world crumbling around him.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Home, Toni Morrison, Fiction.  Morrison's latest novel tells the story of Frank Money's voyage to save his sister, and ultimately himself.  This slim offering from Morrison veers from Frank's memory of his childhood to his current trip to find his sister, who is dying.  Interspersed throughout are notes in italics - the truth that Frank wants us to know during the telling of his story - as if it is just too sad to write the true tale.  Frank is freshly home from Korea and interred in a mental hospital ward where he receives word his sister is dying.  He escapes and makes his way to Cee, with only the note as his guide to finding her.  Witnessing the racism during his trip is astounding and heart -wrenching, but perhaps most horrific was not the racially induced medical research performed on his sister, but the acceptance of what the Doctor was doing because he was in a position of authority.  As readers, we are able to heal with Frank and Cee because of the grace of a group of women and their refusal to let a woman lose herself in grief.  Beautifully written, it only takes one scene to be moved by the healing and understanding that Frank and Cee aquiesce from a simple act on a sunny afternoon, but thankfully Morrison leaves us with many more to fill our heads.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, Fiction, Mystery.  Whew.  To quote many, "you will not want to put this book down."  Amy and Nick are the perfect couple.  They met in Manhattan, golden and happy, she with beauty and money and he with the personality and hair that made him look like he had money.  They fell hard, loved hard, and grew disenchanted quickly.  This is the story of their demise, and could be the story of many falling out of love, but hopefully those other stories don't end with a missing woman and the husband the main suspect.  The first half of the story is told from Nick's perspective and diary entries from Amy.  She of the childhood fame and legions of admirers, who is starting to fear for her marriage and eventually her life.  Nick of the crazy father and sweet but deceased mother, who is in debt to his depressed and homesick wife.  And  then, dear reader, we are snapped to attention with revelation after revelation and the tale is twistier than you could have imagined and never hoped for.  I heard Gillian Flynn interviewed about the state of her own marriage, and one has to wonder about a woman who writes of people like these, these Nick and Amy characters.  Because really, if one person is truly horrendous, what does it say about the other who accepts it?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 500, Matthew Quirk, Fiction.  Yay!  Summer read #2!  Fast-paced, tense and fun to read.  Mike Ford bursts into the world of insider Washington when he is offered a job at one of the best known firms, the Davies Group.  Very quickly he realizes things aren't exactly what they seem, as he correctly surmises his direct supervisor is an ex-Seal, and when he is caught in a compromising place with important information, he is applauded and promoted.  Mike's past and future come crashing together as he is sent careening through DC  to gather information that will either save his life - or his career.  It is Mike's choice, and choosing between keeping his job or his free will becomes the ultimate decision.  Quirk has certainly made a name for himself immediately, with comparisons to The Firm.  At times a bit convenient and unbelievable, it is easily overlooked because you will be having so much fun reading this book.