Books & Fiction

Uncontacted Tribe Lives Far off the Grid in ‘The Last Island’

Lee Polevoi

Those of us in the hyper-connected world—that is, just about all other beings around the world—have, it seems, a perverse fascination with tribes who repudiate all contact with the outside world or are justifiably fearful of external contamination. It’s almost impossible to imagine a life devoid (or blessedly relieved) of modern “conveniences.”

A Diamond Heist Goes Awry in ‘The Stolen Coast’

Lee Polevoi

As with any novel steeped in noir, the narrator’s voice is everything. Does Jack’s voice, as shown here sounding somewhat detached from his surroundings, persuade us of the authenticity of his story? Yes, some of the time, while at other moments he comes across as much too naïve for this crooked line of work.

How the IRA Nearly Murdered the ‘Iron Lady’ in ‘There Will Be Fire’

Lee Polevoi

There Will Be Fire grows out of impressive archival research, as well as more than a hundred interviews with police detective, ex-IRA members, politicians, bomb disposal experts, and many others. In his account of how the plot to assassinate Thatcher unfolded, the author offers a measured, even-handed account of The Troubles.

Families Break Apart Amidst Raging Conflict in Gripping WWII Novel

Heather B. Moore

On the march, she’d seen the Slingerland family and the Van der Hurk family, but she didn’t know where they had ended up. The guard led Mary and her family to a small house with a yard and fence, then ushered them toward the house. One side of the yard was dug out for a garden, although it looked as if it had been trampled recently. The house was a decent size for a family home, but not for the masses of women and children crowding inside the camp.

Murder Mystery Meets Sci-Fi in Nick Harkaway’s ‘Titanium Noir’

Lee Polevoi

Nick Harkaway’s new novel, Titanium Noir, continues in this vein. A mash-up of science fiction and hard-boiled detective story, it starts out promisingly enough. Cal Sounder, a “police consultant,” investigates the murder of a Titan, aged 90 but due to advances in technology inhabiting a 30-year-old’s body (and, when alive, standing more than seven feet tall). Cal’s investigation into this “dead nerd” spirals into unforeseen nooks and crannies, with dangerous repercussions.

Disaster at Sea and Survival in David Grann’s ‘The Wager’

Lee Polevoi

The result is a sweeping, old-fashioned yarn about disaster at sea. The book’s subtitle (A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder) accurately describes what awaits the reader. And if The Wager falls short in places, it’s not due to a lack of drama inherent in mutiny and murder on a desolate, far-off island. A key question underpins this account—that is, when differing individuals offer differing accounts of what occurred, whom can we believe?

Stories of Family Life Shine in Tessa Hadley’s ‘After the Funeral’

Lee Polevoi

In several stories, Hadley plays fast and loose with point of view. This may be jarring at first, but readers soon understand there are further twists in perspective yet to come. In “Men,” the point of view flits from one character to another before settling on Michelle, who works in a high-end restaurant, and Jan, Michelle’s long-estranged younger sister, whose hair is “old-gold color, a silky cut, feathered onto her shoulders.”

Friendship, Betrayal, and #MeToo in Helen Schulman’s ‘Lucky Dogs’

Lee Polevoi

In the days to come, Meredith bonds with her rescuer, Nina Willis, and a young Frenchman, Jean-Pierre. They enjoy drinking fine wine, sampling the best of French cuisine, and roaming the streets of the City of Light. Thrilled with these new friends, Meredith impulsively shares a sheaf of pages she’s written about the Rug and his violent behavior.

Medieval Band of Brothers Fights to the Death in ‘Essex Dogs’

Lee Polevoi

There are other quiet moments, too, when the Essex Dogs ride on horseback to their next military engagement, bivouac around the campfire at night, and so on. But make no mistake: Essex Dogs is a novel composed of “action prose”— blunt, feverish, staccato language, and, for long stretches, unremitting. If your taste runs to vividly-depicted violence, Dan Jones is your man.

Scott Lord Pens New International Thriller ‘Come November’

Scott Lord

Michael Hanson, phone in hand, stood looking out the window of his second-story office on Montana and Twelfth Street in Santa Monica. It was an inexpensive suite on an expensive street—just one small room and a secretarial station—but it was a prestigious address and that was important to him. Diane, his secretary, went home early because of a childcare emergency. Ordinarily, Michael would have been annoyed, but somehow aiding Diane in her childcare efforts worked to assuage his considerable guilt regarding his daughter.

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