Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#27: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

During World War II, two French sisters take different paths during the Nazi occupation of France; one becomes a freedom fighter, and the other finds herself  gradually becoming a collaborator, in Kristin Hannah's epic historical novel The Nightingale.

One sister, more freewheeling and adventurous, becomes the Nightingale of the title, a partisan agent who joins the resistance as a messenger but eventually helps fallen Allied airmen escape occupied France.  The other sister, who has a more mild personality (that caused childhood conflicts between the siblings), tries to protect her shattered family by making one painful choice after the next.

Hannah's novel is a "homefront" style war novel, but standard elements of melodrama and action slowly give way to some pretty dramatic, disturbing scenes as the vestiges of humanity--personified in the Nazi Final Solution--are stripped away in the waning days of the war.

A solid read for those interested in a different take on a standard war story.  I checked this out on audiobook from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#26: City of Blood by Frédérique Molay

Thirty years ago, an artist symbolically buried his work as part of a modern art installation in a Parisian park; when the work is unearthed, a skeleton is found, sending Chief Nico Sirsky and the cops of the Criminal Investigation Division to work in Frédérique Molay's French thriller City of Blood.

Tidy, but television-sized police procedural moves at a fast clip as a fresh wave of similar murders--attributed to "The Butcher of Paris"--spurs the team on.  Sirsky also copes with the sudden onset of illness in his aging mother, and makes a deal with the heavens that wise cops don't make.

Glimpses of the French police and legal systems, as well as daily life, add interest.

I checked this out from Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly, as I think it was meant to be consumed.

This novel comes from Le French Book, a publishing house bringing English translations of what seem to be French beach reads to new audiences--and I will definitely look for more of these.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

#25: The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

A mega-pop star disappears in Chicago, setting off a chain of other disappearances and strange events in Catie Disabato's The Ghost Network.

I'm already recommending Disabato's debut work to people without really being able to explain what it is.  It's a very meta novel, presented as a non-fiction account written about a Lady Gaga-esque figure who, as the story unfolds, had more than a passing interest in various underground movements.  A trio of quasi-investigators, sort of a pan-sexual Scooby Doo team, tries to find out what happens--until one of them also disappears in a boating accident, and another loses several fingers.

When the writer of this nonfiction account also goes missing, the manuscript is purportedly passed on to Catie Disabato herself, who footnotes and provides other commentary.

Almost a story within a story within a story, but as cleverly woven into reality as anything I've read since Marisha Pessl's Night Film, which was one of my favorite reads of the last few years.  Readers will definitely find themselves taking to Google to figure out what is (surprisingly) real and what Disabato made up (and what is a little bit of both).

An original novel that I read rather quickly, on loan from the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana.  Recommended.