December 27th, I am taking a holiday break.
On January 3, Todd will step in for me.
"Half my life ago, I killed a girl."
If you can read that opening line and not want to know more, you're very different from me. When Darin Strauss was an 18 year old high school senior on Long Island about to graduate he ran down and killed a girl he knew casually from school. It wasn't his fault - she suddenly swerved her bicycle directly in front of his car - but she was still dead.
Strauss went on to college and to life but always had to live with his guilty feelings, as well as the girl's mother's words that now he needed to live a life worthy of both of them. Every time he does anything he can't help but think, "she'll never do this." Strauss goes on to get married and write three novels but it is the impending birth of his first child that makes him finally deal with what happened and how it has affected his life.
This is the second memoir I found through Beth Kephart's book Handling the Truth. It is a short (200 pages), fast but affecting read that is well worth your time seeking it out.
UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, Jhumpa Lahiri
In the title story from this 2008 collection from Jhumpa Lahiri, a father, originally from India but now living in Pennsylvania, comes to visit his daughter in Seattle. We get the story in both of their voices. He is recently widowed and doing better than expected with the shock of his wife's unexpected death. He has discovered a love of travel and a love of a new woman met on his travels. He is more content perhaps than his daughter wishes or knows. She is the mother of a three-year old with another baby on the way, and misses her mother and also feels some guilt about throwing over her professional life as a lawyer. Her father does little to assuage her guilt. She wants him to stay in Seattle but not for the reasons that might persuade him to stay. This is a complicated story about fathers and daughters. About the divide that a country, a culture, a sex can evoke. Lahiri's, (a much praised writer), talents are very evident here. All of the stories in this collection look into these issues--as does her other work.
Sergio Angelini, HAIL, HAIL, THE GANG'S ALL HERE, Ed McBain
Yvette Banek, LITERALLY DEAD, James Conroy
Joe Barone, CATS TELLING TALES, Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Bill Crider, THE UNAUTHORIZED LORD OF THE RINGS, J. R.R. Tolkien
Martin Edwards, FOLLOW AS THE NIGHT, Patricia McGerr
Curt Evans, THE WALL, Mary Roberts Rinehart
Ray Garraty, THE BLACKBIRD, Richard Stark
Jerry House, BURGADE'S CROSSING, Bill Pronzini
Randy Johnson, THE BIG KISS-OFF OF 1944, Andrew Bergman
George Kelley, MURDER AT CHRISTMAS, edited by Cynthia Manson
Rob Kitchin, THE EYE OF JADE, Diane Wei Liang
Kate Laity, OUR MAN IN HAVANA, Graham Greene
B.V. Lawson, THE MYNN'S MYSTERY, George Manville Fenn
Evan Lewis, MURDER WON'T WAIT, Carroll John Daly
Steve Lewis/Captain Frank Cunningham, THE MYSTERY IN THE RITSMORE, William Johnston
Todd Mason, EPITAPH FOR A VIRGIN, Robert Arthur
Neer, THE ARTHUR ABDEL SIMPSON NOVELS, Eric Ambler
J.F. Norris. HOT FREEZE, Martin Brett
Juri Nummelin, THE SPARTA MEDALLION, H.L. Lawrence
James Reasoner, FURY WON'T WAIT, Richard Matheson
Gerard Saylor, Brotherhood of Warriors, Aaron Clark
Ron Scheer, THE INDIAN LAWYER, James Welch
Kevin Tipple.Barry Ergang, THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT, Fredric Brown
TomCat, THE MYSTERY TRAIN DISAPPEARS, Kyotaro Nishimura
Prashant Trikannad, THE BOOKCASE, Nelson DeMille
James Winter, THE GILDED AGE: A TALE OF TODAY, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner