PW Picks: Books of the Week, December 9, 2013
This week, new Dean Koontz, the particle that holds the secrets of the universe, and a mystery with a truly unnerving ending.
Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri (Minotaur) – Barbieri takes a break from her Murder 101 series with what starts out as a standard suburban mystery but evolves into an unexpectedly riveting tale of ordinary cruelty and complicated heroism. When Sean Donovan, a pillar of the Farringville, N.Y., community, is brutally murdered, his cousin Maeve Conlon, an overworked baker and divorced mother of two, finds herself dragged into the investigation after the police begin to suspect her father, Jack Conlon, of committing the crime. The book finishes with a surprising and unnerving conclusion.
Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Case for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana (FSG/Scientific American) – While the Higgs boson has dominated recent physics news, astrophysicist Jayawardhana (Strange New Worlds) directs attention toward neutrinos, the “pathologically shy” elementary particles that offer a window into supernovas and may help answer questions about antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, and the early universe.
Innocence by Dean Koontz (Bantam) -In this imaginative, mystical thriller from bestseller Koontz, Addison Goodheart, a 26-year-old man so “exceedingly ugly” that his appearance causes “the most terrible rage” in regular people, lives alone in a hidden part of an American metropolis, but views his solitude as a gift that has enabled him to recognize “reality’s complex dimensions.” An unexpected encounter in a deserted library with Gwyneth, an 18-year-old Goth girl who’s the target of the rare-book curator’s lust, throws him for a loop. Addison bonds with Gwyneth, who suspects her nemesis, J. Ryan Telford, of murdering her father by sending him poisoned honey.
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb (Candlewick) – Two goldfish admire the view from their bowl in Lamb’s promising debut. At first, orange juice–hued Paul spends all his time circling “from left to right and from right to left,” without much emotion or variety. “And then one day, Bernadette dropped in.” The newcomer, a saucy tomato-red fish, makes imaginative observations about their kitchen-table surroundings, pronouncing a banana “a boat” and a teapot “an elephant.” Lamb’s sly approach to the way that love and friendship can alter one’s very view of life welcomes repeat visits.
The Remains of Love by Zeruya Shalev, trans. from the Hebrew by Philip Simpson (Bloomsbury) – The agony of death is supplanted by the challenges of family in Shalev’s fifth book. Hemda was the first baby born in a progressive kibbutz, raised with high expectations as her mother traveled the world raising money to support her. Now elderly, Hemda lies in a hospital in Jerusalem after a fall in her apartment; she revisits moments from her past, imagining that her parents are visiting her at her bedside. Instead, it’s her children who wait nearby, bringing their own issues: having missed her opportunity to have a second child, Dina wants to adopt, but her husband and her daughter think she’s deluded and refuse to participate; and Avner, after seeing a dying man at the same hospital where his mother is being treated, is obsessed with finding the man’s grieving partner.