broken verses

In broken verses, there are two essential relationships. Pakistani’s greatest poet and his muse, as well as the muse’s relationship with her daughter. The story is told from the daughter’s perspective, years after the poet was murdered by government thugs and her mother went missing. Aasmani has never recovered from her mother’s desertions after the poet’s death, nor the many, many times she left her when he poet was exiled.

Through letters written in the poet’s secret code, Aasmani tries to unravel the mystery behind the poet’s death and her mother’s desertion. Having believed that the only ones who knew the code were dead, Aasmani doesn’t know what to make of the letters until she starts to believe one or the other didn’t die. Her current romance and her relationship with her family become strained as Aasmani investigates the source of the letters and confusion builds as more letters are received.

Beautifully, poetically written.

Read June 2017

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Still Life

Still Life is a surprising first novel by Louise Penny. The characterization of the main characters that I loved in The Beautiful Mystery is already present in the beginning of their novel life. Both Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir have their detection preferences in this early work, but their relationship is not as defined as it becomes later. I don’t mean this as a criticism, but rather as a plus, since Penny has taken the time to let the relationship occur naturally. Instead of telling the reader that the two are a great pair, she’s let us find out by watching their interactions over time.

In this novel, a private artist has been shot dead by a arrow after having her first public showing of her art work is announced. Chief Inspector is sure that her art work is tied to her death, but he and Jean-Guy Beauvoir must immerse themselves into the small town life to find the motivation of the murder.

Louise Penny writes all the side characters as well as Gamacge and Beauvoir; and once again takes us into a small world where outsiders are not usually welcome.

Louise Penny keeps the reader guessing in this small town mystery, but keeps the tone light and humorous with lessons for those affected by the murder as well as those working with Gamache. He is a kind leader and  does not deal well with an unkind addition to his team. This was another great read!

Read 2015

The Stonecutter

In The Stonecutter, Camilla Lackberg brings back Patrik Hedstrom and Erika Falck who have just had a daughter together. Erika deals with her new post partum life as best she can and befriends another mother. Unfortunately, it is her new friend’s daughter whose body is found in a fisherman’s net. As Patrik and Erika deal with their new parenthood and how emotional another child’s death can be, it is even more heart breaking when the post mortem reveals that the water in Sara’s lungs came from a bathtub.

Lackberg writes multiple sub-plots that run throughout the novel. The stonecutter, Anders, falls for the boss’s daughter Agnes over 80 years ago and tumultuous love affair has repercussions that Lackberg skillfully and slowly reveal to the reader. Patrik’s boss discover’s his paternal, although still very self centered, side when an offspring from a long forgotten affair turns up. Erika’s sister reunites with her horrifically abusive husband in hopes of saving the children. All the stories are united by parenthood and how much of what the adults are doing is for the children’s benefit. Each parent, in their own way, tries to make their children feel their love, sometimes in very disturbing and unhealthy ways.

Camilla Lackberg’s novels are a thrill to read and The Stonecutter was no exception. All the story lines and time periods fit together and make the novel flow. She is able to deal with very serious subjects of abuse, murder, greed while still keeping the main characters balanced and loving.

Read May 2015

Freakonomics

Steven D. Levitt is an economist. Stephen J. Dubner is a writer. Together they wrote Freakonomics. They take general ideas and prove whether their is any relationship between things that have nothing in common or things that seem to be related. For example, Levitt and Dubner proved that both teachers and Sumo wrestlers, both groups held in high esteem, will cheat based on the system set up for their success. They support the premise that allowing legal abortions had more to do with decreased crime rates in the 90’s than any other public policies. They support that a parent’s education has more do with a child’s success that any child rearing strategy out there.

While a lot of their facts were fascinating and captivated my attention, much of the book read like a economics textbook. I know they are very interested in their topics, as are many of the readers, but I thought it kept going much longer than my interest. This isn’t the first time I tried to read this book and I think I only finished because my book club chose it.

So I think most people who would gravitate to this book would be interested in portions or all of it. Its not a book that needs to be read from cover to cover. In fact, in retrospect, if I had read only chapters every few months, like articles in a magazine, I would probably have like the book more.

Read August 2014

A Death in Tuscany

Michele Giuttari is a former head of the Florence police force before turning to crime writing. I’ve read another of his books and remembering being entranced, not for the writing, but for the scenes of Italian life. A Death in Tuscany felt very similar with wonderful scenes of Italian living mixed with murder.

A young girl is found abandoned and practically dead on the side of a road and Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara cannot let this murder go unsolved, either due to her age or because she’s treated like a piece of trash due to her possible immigrant status. In the course of the investigation, the young girls murder seems to be the least of the crimes committed against her very young body.

In addition to solving this crime, Ferrara’s oldest friend goes missing and he’s being shut out of the formal investigation due to his closeness and the possibility of Massimo Verga being a murderer on the run. Both investigations take Ferrara around Tuscany and into secret societies. Drugs, pedophilia, and murder are at the center of the investigation and it takes everything they have to save those who still need to be saved.

This was a quick, enjoyable read. In reading the book jacket I noticed that Michele Giuttari was involved with the Monster of Florence case. From Amanda Knox’s Waiting to be Heard, I remember the prosecutor in her trial being involved with the Monster of Florence case. Turns out, Michele Giuttari is in some legal trouble due to his involvement in the Monster of Florence case and may need to serve some jail time. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues as a crime novelist after any stints in prison.

Read March 2014