Readers' Services

The Readers’ Services staff can help you find specific materials and can offer reading suggestions. Please phone (847) 448-8620 for assistance. Use Novelist, to find reviews, reading guides, and reading lists for fiction lovers.

Maria Wern

titleMaria Wern. 2011. (DVD TV Maria)

I admit, I'm an addict--these Nordic TV crime series have me hooked. With complex plots, characters with "issues," interesting landscapes in the fjords and more, I find them just exotic enough to be better than most of our homegrown crime shows. Detective Maria Wern, a young widow with two impossibly blond children, takes a job with the police force on the resort island of Gotland not expecting to find such a full roster of gruesome crimes. Gutsy, intuitive, tenacious, Maria throws herself into a case as a way to cope with her grief for her husband who died two years earlier. An old flame comes to work at the station and the interplay between them adds a nice dimension. There's the right touch of comic relief with the banter and joshing of her colleagues at the station, and the gorgeous coastal scenery offers some escape from the truly horrible murders in their casebook.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

 

 

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness

titleBen Izzy, Joel. The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. 2003. (B Beniz.J Beniz.J)

What is a storyteller without a voice to tell stories? That is the puzzle Joel ben Izzy must solve when, due to cancer surgery, his voice disappears and doesn't come back. Interspersed with folk tales from around the world, this autobiography has the feeling of a personal folk tale, as the author explores his childhood memories of a loving but inept father, sweet and tolerant mother, angry and foul-mouthed grandmother. His children beg him for bedtime stories, his wife worries about the bills.Through the stories ben Izzy has collected from around the world, he explores wisdom, foolishness and acceptance. A brief and touching tale.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

 

   

The Murder of Harriet Krohn

titleFossum, Karin. The Murder of Harriet Krohn. 2014. (Mystery Fossu.K)

Karin Fossum, one of Norway's best selling crime writers and one of my favorites, too, has taken a new tack in her two latest novels. In her earlier release this year, I Can See in the Dark, and now in this one, she takes us inside the heads of the killers. Charlo Torp, a down-on-his-luck gambler with huge debts and an estranged teenage daughter whom he adores, is driven to a desperate act. The reader shares all his rationalizing, his hopes for reconciliation, his self absorption and his deterioration in both mind and body. This is an Inspector Sejer mystery, but Sejer doesn't even get a mention till over halfway through the story. He does feature in the brilliantly staged final chapters as he talks to Torp who is at that point "a person of interest." Fossum's new approach creates a tinge of sympathy for Torp and gives us a glimpse of how a disturbed and desperate man thinks and acts.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

Summer House with Swimming Pool

titleKoch, Herman. Summer House with Swimming Pool. 2014. (Fiction Koch.H)

This is Dutch author Koch's second novel to be published in English, and in it, again, he asks the question: how much does a father do to protect his kids? Marc Schlosser is a successful physician with a patient list of actors, authors, painters--the famous and near famous. He tells us how he is mildly repelled by their bad habits, flabby bodies, and hypochondriac complaints. This is a doctor with little empathy and a fluid interpretation of the "do no harm" part of the Hippocratic oath. As in his earlier book The Dinner, Koch gives us an unlikeable and possibly unreliable narrator. When an ugly incident occurs involving Schlosser's pre-teen daughter while the family stays at a famous actor's summer home, Schlosser's subsequent actions are shocking. Almost all the characters in this book are flawed--either weak willed, narcissistic, predatory, or shallow. Yet Koch entrances us with taut writing and skillful and unpredictable turns of the plot.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

The Disappearance

title

Wylie, Philip. The Disappearance. 1951. (Science Fiction Wylie.P)

Written in 1951, The Disappearance has one of the best opening lines ever: “The female of the species vanished on the afternoon of the second Tuesday of February at four minutes and fifty-two seconds past four o’clock Eastern Standard Time." At the same time the women disappear from the men, the men disappear from the women leaving two parallel universes where men and women must cope with their lives in a world that has completely changed. Although the concept is fascinating, the roles of women and men, as well as discussions of the Soviet Union are definitely part of the 1950’s mentality, where women are relegated to being housewives, and men leaders. Even so there are some revealing insights, and as Robert Silverberg says in his introduction to the novel: “What emerges ultimately, is a powerful statement about the interdependence of the sexes: we are each incomplete without the other.”

(Laura, Reader's Services) 

 
   

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