Try these delightful novels this summer
Escape into fantasy, revel in the past, follow a detective on his rounds around the Louisiana bayous, join a tour to Cuba with a suspenseful side trip, and enjoy the company of characters created by talented writers.
What a great way to spend a relaxing day! Whether soaking up the rays at the water’s edge, enjoying the shade under a favorite tree with a cool drink in hand, or winding down indoors with your feet up and the A/C on, let go and let your mind take imaginative flight into the pages of fiction.
The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham, 384 pages, Bantam paperback, 2018; 480-page Random House large print paperback, 2017
Lawyers (especially members of the D.C. Bar) and those who enjoy legal thrillers will find this book fun to read. While John Grisham’s previous offering, Camino Island, strayed from this popular writer’s usual legal-centric plot, The Rooster Bar returns the author to his highly entertaining potboiler plotlines that have become synonymous with Grisham’s literary oeuvre.
The story of third-year law students unfolds masterfully to a climactic conclusion. As the action unfolds, serious contemporary issues are raised: unscrupulous companies that provide student loans; for-profit law schools (many of whose graduates are unprepared to pass the bar and find remunerative employment to pay off their crushing debts); tort lawyers who rake in millions filing class-action lawsuits; ICE’s heartless practices, and the government’s use of privatized detention facilities; the confounding court system encountered by first-time petty offenders who are easy targets of shady lawyers, and the secretive behavior of offshore banks and shell corporations that serve as safe havens for ill-gotten gains.
Local readers will no doubt enjoy descriptions of the District’s familiar landmarks, vistas and thoroughfares where much of the action takes place.
You may find yourself rooting for the lovable rogues in spite of yourself.
Manhattan Beach: A Novel, by Jennifer Egan, 448 pages, Scribner paperback, 2018
The coming of age of a young woman during World War II is the subject of this fascinating novel set in and around Brooklyn’s ocean side community of Manhattan Beach. The yarn unfolds on the bustling waterfront and in the posh homes along the Atlantic and the crowded inland tenements.
The twists and turns contrived by Jennifer Egan will leave you guessing. Her finely crafted words bring to life the glittering Manhattan nightclubs, the seedy Mafia hangouts, the society swells, the Navy Yard bursting with wartime activity, and the men and women struggling through the Depression while dealing with the ramifications of wartime.
Young Anna Kerrigan copes with life’s vicissitudes as do her immediate family and circle of friends. They are tested by challenges and betrayals, supported in time of trouble by acquaintances they hardly know.
Much is left untold, as the mysterious disappearance of Anna’s father Eddie and the exact nature of his ties to mob boss Dexter Styles are fully revealed only in the concluding chapters.
This novel by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author is sure to be enjoyed seaside, watching the tide in real time or in one’s imagination. It is the winner of the 2018 One Book, One New York award selected by readers of New York Magazine for a citywide read. One thousand five hundred copies of Manhattan Beach will be donated to New York Public Library branches so that everyone can participate.
Robicheaux: A Novel, by James Lee Bruce, 464 pages, Simon & Schuster hardcover, 2018 (Orion paperback, July 26, 2018)
Follow the thrilling and heart-stopping rounds of Detective Dave Robicheaux as he pounds the beat, trying to solve multiple gruesome murders in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Haunted by PTSD, flashbacks of his wartime experiences, the tragic circumstances that surrounded the deaths of his two wives, plagued by his recent relapse from sobriety, this brilliant and complex man stalks the petty criminals and crime bosses, murderers and rapists, dirty cops and venal politicians who inhabit his territory and the neighboring domain.
Robo confronts his own demons, the treachery of dirty cops and the unsolved murders that still tug at his heartstrings, while showing loyalty to his flawed best friend, chivalry to women in distress, and love to his adult adopted daughter.
You’ll need to concentrate as the plot unfolds to sort out the colorful and sinister cast of characters. The story intensifies as the crimes multiply, and you will be enthralled by the time you reach the exciting finale.
James Lee Bruce is masterful in his description of the Louisiana landscape. His characters are portrayed in realistic manner, the dialogue is sharp and his imagination soars.
Follow the bloody trail and be prepared for a ride that will take your breath away.
The Cuban Affair: A Novel, by Nelson DeMille, 448 pages, Simon & Schuster paperback, 2018; 697-page large print Thorndike Press hardcover, 2017
An educational tour group to Cuba with the Yale School of Architecture seems a sedate premise for the basis of an action-packed suspense thriller in The Cuban Affair. But factor in the presence of macho Army veteran Mac, who was injured in Afghanistan and is now back in civilian life as a Key West charter boat captain.
Will he undertake a secret mission to help a damsel in distress? Are her motives pecuniary, political or romantic? What about Mac’s motives? Will he and his best buddy get out alive? Will he get the girl?
Nelson DeMille has crafted a highly readable, dramatic story set on the scenic islands of Key West and Cuba. He vividly paints a picture in words of Havana and its countryside, and evokes the laid back culture of the Florida Keys.
Readers will appreciate the portrayals of John and Eduardo, seniors who play pivotal roles in the plot. Add into the mix the volatile politics of refugees residing in Florida, and the repressive conditions natives of Cuba still endure. The pressure cooker is bound to explode, but will all the good guys emerge unscathed? Read on!