Book Talk: Paperback praise

Physical books are much more user friendly to read than any digital book you can download

James Lee Burke brings back his renowned crime series with 2018’s Robicheaux. (Book cover image)

Peter Critchley

Morning Star columnist

Let’s face it – physical books are much more user friendly to read than any digital book you can download. And the reading experience, compared to a digital book, is in some ways as different as a horse and a horsefly.

Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) by short-story master George Saunders is one reading experience you will not soon forget. It is an utterly original work that focuses on a single night in the life of Abraham Lincoln—an actual moment in 1862 when the distraught president visits the grave of his recently interred 11-year-old son, Willie.

Lincoln’s nocturnal visit to the cemetery has a “vivifying effect” on the graveyard’s spectral denizens who choose to loiter in the Bardo, the intermediate or transitional state between one’s death and one’s next birth, according to Tibetan Buddhism. And within this strange purgatory, as a monumental battle erupts over Willie’s soul, an unforgettable portrait emerges of a wartime president burdened by private and public grief, mourning his son’s death as grim battlefield reports test his and the nation’s resolve.

Robicheaux (2018) by James Lee Burke is another excellent thriller in the Robicheaux series, a captivating work that more than stands on its own. The author, acclaimed as one of the best American novelists working today, crafts a spellbinding story of crime, hate and tragedy.

Dave Robicheaux, a recovering alcoholic detective in New Iberia, Louisiana, is still haunted by his Vietnam War experiences and the death of his wife a year earlier in a car accident. After he falls off the wagon, he confronts Dartez, the man responsible for killing his wife. Shortly after, the man is found dead and Robicheaux becomes a suspect in the crime he is assigned to investigate.

Together with best friend and former police partner, PI Clete Purcell, Robicheaux seeks the truth and the stakes get higher, as the bodies fall and the mysteries deepen. The pair are happy to risk themselves but they both must decide what to do to protect those they love as they delve deeper for a resolution.

So Much Love (2017) by Canadian short-story writer Rebecca Rosenblum is a stunning debut novel that is akin to recent narratives such as Emma Donoghue’s Room. But this work casts a much broader scope as the effects of kidnapping are observed, as they ripple out to people close to the captives and the wider community.

A teenage boy goes missing in a small town. Catherine Reindeer, a waitress living in the same town, does not know the boy but is strangely preoccupied by thoughts of his fate. One night she is abducted as she leaves the restaurant where she works and an entire community is shattered, from her fellow waitresses to her mother, her husband and her professor. But the reaction to the kidnapping is not the heart of the story — it is Catherine’s own journey of resilience.

These three titles are available through your Okanagan Regional Library www.orl.bc.ca.


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