More than 100 years have passed since the Autumn of the Knife, when the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper terrorized the streets of London. Amy Carol Reeves, author of the YA Ripper trilogy, says, “writers and readers are drawn to this story because it’s a case that will never be solved,” leaving plenty of space for imagination. Such is the case with two new Ripper-themed books by celebrated historical crime novelists Stephen Hunter (Hot Springs) and Alex Grecian (The Yard).
Michele Young-Stone’s second novel, Above Us Only Sky, is a coming-of-age story set in the 1970s—with a magical twist. Prudence Eleanor Vilkas was born with wings, “heart-shaped, crinkled like a paper fan” against her newborn back. The doctor apologized; later her wings were removed, leaving only scars. Prudence’s parents divorce. She and her mother move to Florida. She struggles through her teens, wondering about her identity as a winged girl.
Ten years ago, Ian Caldwell and his co-author, Dustin Thomason, struck gold with The Rule of Four, a page-turning academic mystery with emotional depth. Now, after a decade of research, writing and rewriting, Caldwell is back with a solo effort, a new novel that promises to live up to The Rule of Four. And The Fifth Gospel delivers, with compelling characters, impeccable pacing and a central enigma that is as intellectually satisfying as it is emotionally harrowing.
For those who argue that global capitalism is in the midst of a second Gilded Age, Canadian novelist Stephen Marche’s second novel (after Raymond and Hannah) offers an intriguing genre-crossing allegory for the rapacity and relentlessness of that economic philosophy.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James is at once alluring and unexpected. The novel opens with a letter from 83-year-old Etta to her husband, Otto. Etta has left the couple’s farm in Saskatchewan to walk more than 3,000 kilometers to see the ocean. In the letter, Etta tells Otto that she will try to remember to come back, a hint at her failing memory. Otto, hands trembling, decides not to follow.
In The Rosie Effect, Simsion returns to the life of Rosie and Don as they struggle to turn their marriage into a lifelong love affair.
We hear plenty of stories about falling in love. What we don’t often get, especially in romantic comedies, is the idea that marriage just might be the beginning of the love story, not its culmination. As The Rosie Effect shows, sometimes it’s possible, and even necessary, to fall in love with your partner over and over again. Sometimes that process can be just as beautiful—and just as romantic.
Three novels exploring the confines of art and artistry make great picks for reading groups this month.
"Just a minute," Garth Stein says when he answers the phone at his Seattle home. "The kids are kicking soccer balls at me—I've got to get out of the line of fire." It’s understandable that his three boys—ages 17, 15 and 7—are craving their dad’s attention. With an international phenomenon already under his belt (2008’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, which has sold 4 million copies) and a new book about to hit shelves, Stein is frequently on the road these days. He has just returned from a trip to West Virginia, where he did a reading at the famously elegant Greenbrier.