Fiction Reviews | April 1, 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewRaybourn, Deanna. A Spear of Summer Grass. Mira: Harlequin. May 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780778314394. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460311905. F

It’s 1923, and Delilah Drummond is a modern woman who doesn’t mind a little scandal, but the questionable circumstances of her soon-to-be ex-husband are better avoided. Sent by family to Kenya as a distraction, she finds this vast new world is perfectly suited to her particular habits and abilities. Strangely, it’s the people, not the unfamiliar animals, who are the troublesome creatures, including the dashing Ryder White. Longtime fans prepare your happy dance, then make room for a legion of new followers as word of Raybourn’s (The Dark Enquiry; Dark Road to Darjeeling) completely satisfying new stand-alone historical spreads. Characters with deeply interior flaws rising slowly to the surface and an exotic setting that creates its own sense of drama will make readers want to savor each page while desperately needing to know what happens next. Cultural details of the European community in Africa and the Creole community of New Orleans overlap in unexpected ways, meshing unexpectedly with lore of the Masai in Kenya. VERDICT From sweetly touching moments requiring tissues to hot-blooded hunts for prey of both two and four-legged varieties, this book elicits the widest range of emotions, and does it with style.—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewMarra, Anthony. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Hogarth: Crown. May 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780770436407. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780770436414. F

Marra’s debut novel places readers in Chechnya during its decadelong conflict with Russia and offers up an authentic, heartbreaking tale of intertwining relationships during wartime. The narrative centers on three people: eight-year-old Havaa, whose father has been “disappeared” by Russian forces; her neighbor Akhmed, a failed doctor who tries to hide her in the only operational hospital he knows; and Sonja, the area’s last remaining surgeon, who is trying desperately to find her missing sister. As he shifts in time through the years of the two Chechen wars, Marra confidently weaves those plots together, and several more besides, giving each character a rich backstory that intersects, often years down the line, with the others. Though sometimes difficult to digest—episodes of casual violence and savage brutality punctuate the otherwise graceful prose—the novel’s tone remains optimistic, and its characters retain vast depths of humanity (and even humor) in spite of their bleak circumstances. VERDICT Marra’s moving novel will appeal to admirers of Tea Obreht’s similarly war-torn novel The Tiger’s Wife, but his story relies less on magical realism and more on the seemingly random threads binding us together. Highly recommended for all readers of literary fiction.—Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewLink, Charlotte. The Other Child. Pegasus Crime. Apr. 2013. 416p. tr. from German by Stefan Tobler. ISBN 9781605984308. $25.95. F

After reading only a few pages of Link’s U.S debut, a best seller in Germany, it is easy to see why she is the most successful female crime author in her home country. When two murders occur in the small English village of Scarborough, the second one a copycat killing that takes place months after the first, Det. Valerie Almond is at a loss. Then she learns that the murders may be connected to the evacuation of children from the area during World War II. Fiona Barnes was a young teen during that time and writes letters to a close friend detailing the tragic story of “the other child.” Exactly who is the “other child” and what does this child from the past have to do with the present-day murders? VERDICT This phenomenal, multilayered mystery offers plenty of psychological intrigue and suspense. Skillfully juggling the two stories, Link sets a fast pace and weaves in characters who are both tragic and ones readers can relate to. Fans of psychological thrillers and dark mysteries will love this engrossing novel.—Amy M. Davis, Parmley Billings Lib., MT

The following titles are reviewed in the April 1, print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewAhmad, A.X. The Caretaker. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250016843. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250016836. F

Boyne, John. The House of Special Purpose. Other Pr. Apr. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9781590515983. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590515990. F

Burgess, John. A Woman of Angkor. River Bks., dist. by Antique Collectors Club. Apr. 2013. 500p. ISBN 9786167339252. pap. $14.95. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewCheng, Bill. Southern Cross the Dog. Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780062225009. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062225030. F

Close, Jennifer. The Smart One. Knopf. Apr. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780307596864. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962324. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewde Kretser, Michelle. Questions of Travel. Little, Brown. May 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780316219228. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316219242. F

Dietrich, William. The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780062194077. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062194114. F

Dymott, Elanor. Every Contact Leaves a Trace. Norton. May 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780393239775. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393240351. F

Greenberg, Mike. All You Could Ask For. Morrow. Apr. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780062220752. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 97800622200776. F

Henry, Patti Callahan. And Then I Found You. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780312610760. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250036780. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewHosseini, Khaled. And the Mountains Echoed. Riverhead. May 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781594631764. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101626276. F

Juanita, Judy. Virgin Soul. Viking. Apr. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780670026586. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101622858. F

Kerr, Philip. A Man Without Breath: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Putnam. Apr. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780399160790. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101621097. F

Keyes, Marian. The Mystery of Mercy Close: A Walsh Sister Novel. Viking. Apr. 2013. 388p. ISBN 9780670025244. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101606049. F

Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train. Morrow. Apr. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780061950728. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062101204. F

Knox, Tom. The Babylon Rite. Viking. May 2013. 340p. ISBN 9780670026647. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101606261. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewLeavitt, Caroline. Is This Tomorrow. Algonquin. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781616200541. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616201258. F

McCreight, Kimberly. Reconstructing Amelia. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780062225436. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062225450. F

Meyer, Philipp. The Son. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2013. 592p. ISBN 9780062120397. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062120410. F

Pearson, Ridley. Choke Point: A Risk Agent Novel. Putnam. Jun. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780399158841. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101621158. F

Ravel, Edeet. The Cat. Pintail: Penguin Group (USA). 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780143186458. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780143186595. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewRose, M.J. Seduction. Atria: S. & S. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781451621501. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781451621525. F

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewSelasi, Taiye. Ghana Must Go. Penguin: Penguin Group (USA). 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781594204494. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101605776. F


Library Journal Reviews starred reviewTuck, Lily. The House at Belle Fontaine: And Other Stories. Atlantic Monthly. May 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780802120168. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780802193612. F