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The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson

Boston PI Henry Kimball takes on a case from a student he taught in his former high school teacher days, who suspects her husband is being unfaithful.

Flashbacks to that earlier time period, for the client, Kimball, and another important character we meet drive the story, which becomes less straightforward as it progresses. Kimball shares a lot of genre cliches (ex-cop, crosses ethical lines, ladies’ man) but also doesn’t (a stalled poet that writes a lot of limericks, and if he ever carries a gun I can’t recall it). The story moves quickly, even with the flashbacks, but not in a breathless airport thriller sort of way.

I read this because I’m a bit curious about the trend towards new installments in long dormant series. The first in this one, The Kind Worth Killing, came out eight years ago; I’d not read anything by Swanson previously, an author whose star seems to be on the rise. Even if I had read the first book in the series, how well would I remember it by now? No matter, as this works flawlessly as a standalone. I’m not completely sold on the series or author, but admit to being intrigued enough that I’m sure to read another, and it’s easy to understand Swanson’s success. Not all genre readers want a comic book with unbelievable characters, implausible stories, and ludicrous amounts of violence. The Kind Worth Saving is the kind of book you can actually imagine happening

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6888049

Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair

A celebrity memoir by the actress best known for roles in Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde and Hellboy.

Along with work as a model and more recently an advocate for the multiple sclerosis community, this isn’t the sort of book that I’d typically read. What brought me to it was hearing the author interviewed on CBC’s q. To hear it is to want to read the book.

I was glad I did because Blair has genuine chops as a writer. While her life has been rife with the fairly common celeb tropes of addiction, trauma and sexual abuse, her candour and humour in telling the story is warm and compulsively readable. She’s able to have regrets without feeling sorry for herself, and she’s enough of a storyteller to engage you even without having seen any of the movies she’s done, or being the sort of person that reads People magazine and watches Entertainment tonight. She shouldn’t really be such a breath of fresh air, and yet she somehow is. I hope she’s able to keep writing, and for the umpteenth time I’m thankful to CBC Radio for all they do to promote books, authors and reading.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6622211

The Last Resort by Sarah Stodola

A look at beach resort culture’s past, present and precarious future as sea levels rise.

Tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide, creating imbalanced local economies, a huge carbon footprint and rapidly worsening beach erosion. Travel writer Stodola combines firsthand experience with history and exacting journalism to go well beyond a Google search for some cheap fun in the sun.

With global tourism still struggling to recover from COVID-19 and countries overly dependent on it desperately trying to diversify their economies, an expected sea level rise of three feet means that beaches will become even more difficult to preserve, or disappear completely. A very readable and fascinating look at both travel and climate change.

(Postscript: coincidentally, a friend from Viet Nam was visiting as I read this book, so I had him read the chapter on VN. He gave the author high praise for both her accuracy and analysis).

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6608117

Dead Man's Grave by Neil Lancaster

First in the DS Max Craigie series, this is an atmospheric thriller with great characters and a strong sense of its Scottish place.

Had it not been for HarperCollins sales rep and Dewey Diva sending me a copy, along with a note to say she’d read it in three hours, calling it “Tartan noir meets Jack Reacher” it probably would have passed me by. I’m glad it didn’t, because I’m so over thrillers overflowing with violence, unbelievable characters and implausible storylines. If reading Ian Rankin or watching UK crime series like Line of Duty is your cuppa, you’re in for a treat.

Followed by Blood Tide and Night Watch.

Adult Fiction Paperback pr6657234

Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius by Nick Hornby

Novelist and screenwriter Hornby (About a Boy, An Education) explores creativity through the parallels between two cultural giants.

What might first seem an odd pairing quickly becomes as delicious as chocolate and peanut butter in Hornby’s telling. At 192 pages, this feels something like an extended magazine feature, but it’s a fun, while informative, read. The copyright battles that Dickens fought had me howling with laughter at times, while the extreme productivity both he and Prince shared was inspirational, despite being almost absurdly daunting.

Very much a love letter to two artists that Hornby describes as “My People – the people I have thought about a lot, over the years, the artists who have shaped me, inspired me, made me think” - it’s apt to lead you to reflect on those who play a similar role in your own life.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6730520

Wake: A Novel by Shelley Burr

A debut crime thriller set in the Australian outback, where the unsolved disappearance of a nine year old girl still haunts an isolated community two decades later.

While the plot doesn’t break new ground, the location and characters are brilliantly rendered. Not wanting to give any spoilers, I’ll simply note that this is unlikely to become a Disney or Hallmark movie. On the other hand, readers of noir or Jane Harper, who appreciate realistic characters and outcomes, will find much to enjoy here.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6646352

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