If you’re looking for something to read this weekend, may we suggest three novels that we’ve just finished and that we found to be terrific reads?
- ”Forever,” by journalist Pete Hamill, is a mystical journey that starts in Ireland in the early 1700’s, with a boy named Cormac O’Connor. This young man, through a series of tragic circumstances, finds himself sailing to America, to New York, where he befriends an African shaman who offers him the ultimate gift: eternal life. There’s just one catch. He will only live forever if he never leaves the island of Manhattan.
This is a lovely book, mixing mysticism and history, as Cormac grows with Manhattan through the centuries, watching and writing about the birth of the US, the Civil War, and the political and cultural awakening of a people. It is a book, it should be noted, that Hamill actually finished writing on September 10, 2001…and then, after the tragic events that followed the very next day, went back to rewrite, because the Manhattan that Cormac O’Connor knew had changed forever. Great writer, great book.
- ”The Last Detective,” by Robert Crais, is another entry in the author’s series of novels featuring private detective Elvis Cole. While Crais’ novels started as Raymond Chandler-Robert B. Parker wannabees, they have deepened with each new entry. In this new one, Crais takes a page from the works of Ross Macdonald, another terrific mystery novelist who wrote wonderful novels that linked past events with present consequences. This book paints a picture of a vibrant, corrupted Southern California, and does so with sharp colors and tight phrasing.
- Finally, we come to the master: Robert B. Parker, who has brought out his 30th Spenser novel, “Back Story.” This is a strong addition to a series of novels that practically rescued the genre back when it started three decades ago, with familiar characters (Spenser, Susan, Hawk, and a cast of regular supporting players) that act out what essentially are morality plays against the backdrop of modern day Boston.
“Back Story” actually has some plot surprises, unusual for Parker, who always has preferred to focus on dialogue and character as opposed to dense and complicated plotting. But we’ve always thought that the Spenser novels really are about love and commitment and doing the right thing…or at least, the best thing, depending on the circumstances.
Besides, how can we do anything but admire a character who takes a case in Chapter One and accepts, as payment, a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Our kind of guy.
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