December was a good month for books.
All five of the books I read were very good
and I enjoyed each one.
Another Jack Reacher novel and as usual…good. In this story Jack, a former US Military police officer and now a homeless drifter, is found and brought in by the powers that be to find someone who attempted to assassinate the French President. The someone he is to find is a man he helped put in prison several years ago. I like the Reacher books because Jack Reacher is smart and funny. He just wants to be left to drift but keeps getting entangled in political espionage.
This is a bit of a departure from what Baldacci usually writes and I really liked it. It is about two children who, with their mother, go to the mountains to live with their grandmother. The old woman owns acres of land that a power company wants to mine, but she won’t sell and there is a lot of tensions revolving around that. But the part that held my interest was the children and how they coped with moving from the big city to the poor rural mountains, the death of their father, and their devastated and disabled mother. The children make two friends, one a lawyer and one an orphan kid living on his own. The young boy teaches them many things about believing in the unbelievable and the magic of an abandoned well. I liked the book for the strength of the characters and the beauty of how love holds them together. A lovely book, though, there was one chapter that broke my heart.
Lila only knew work and hardship her whole life. And only had one person ever love her. That person was a woman who stole her from people who may have been her parents, but that is never really clear to Lila or the reader. The woman and Lila travel with a small group of migrant workers during the days of the dust bowl. As an adult Lila lives alone and doesn’t make friends, moving on when it suits her. On one of her wanderings, she happens upon the town of Gilead and her life changes forever when she meets an old preacher man. This is a beautiful book with depth of writing. It is easy to see why Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her book Gilead.
Harlan Coben is my new favorite author. You will be seeing many of his books here. He is the best at surprising the reader with unexpected secrets and events. In this book Megan, happily married with two children, is drawn back to her old life in Atlantic City that no one knows about. Over seventeen years men go missing on Mardi Gras and are never found. An abusive lover/customer of the woman was the first to disappear. When an old friend tracks her down to tell her she has seen this man the new life Megan has made is threatened. Threatened not only by the possibility that her old life will be made known but also by the feelings she still has for her first true love who was part of the old life and has a terrible secret of his own. When it is revealed what has happened to all the missing men the perpetrator of the crimes and the reason behind them it is a wonderful mix of surprise and a kind of relief.
I always like Jodi Picoult’s books. They are quick to read, but you have to be careful to not miss little nuances that seem unimportant and show up chapters later and are pivotal. Two scientists who research elephants meet and marry soon after. They have a little girl and settle down as owners of an elephant refuge in New Hampshire. The husband has serious mental problems that his wife did not know about before their marriage, but they become apparent when lack of funding threatens to close the refuge. She has confided in and fallen in love with one of the caretakers of the animals. Because of her husband’s erratic behavior she decides to take their daughter and run away. Before she can do that there is violence and death. The story is told by the mother, the daughter, a private detective, and a psychic. It is the daughter, now thirteen, who hires the detective and the psychic to find her mother who has been missing ten years. To say this has a really different ending is an understatement. I should have known it would be a surprise. Picoult’s final pages are always surprising.
That’s it for 2014.