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.

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


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) 


The Ice Queen: a novel

Hoffman, Alice. The Ice Queen. 2005. (Fiction Hoffm.A)

titleWhat is the difference between love and obsession? What if you made a spiteful wish and it came true? What if you've stopped letting yourself feel anything and you are struck by lightning? Will it melt the ice shard in your heart? As an angry eight year old, the narrator wished her mother would disappear. Her mother's car slipped on ice and she died. Armoring herself against any further emotions, the narrator lives her life at a remove from those around her until a second wish, that she be hit by lightning, comes true. Now physically damaged as well as emotionally dead, she seeks other survivors to help her discover if life is more than simply surviving. Though with a few too many fairy tale references and a long lead into this odd love story, Hoffman's magical and descriptive language weaves its spell.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


The Ship of Brides

titleMoyes, Jojo. The Ship of Brides. 2014, 2005. (Fiction Moyes.J)

British author Moyes is hot right now in the U.S. She's mastered the art of the sophisticated relationship novel. She knows how to tug at your heartstrings--but not too hard--with intelligent dialogue, compelling plot lines, and believable characters. Some of her titles offer good discussion fodder for book groups; others are just read-'em-and-enjoy selections. This one falls in the latter category. In 1946 British Naval ships bound for home transported thousands of young women who had married British soldiers stationed in Australia during WWII. This novel follows the fate of four such war brides as they make their way on a six week journey to England aboard a decrepit aircraft carrier. They can't help but fret about the future that awaits them. The crewmen, too, have their hopes and worries, and shipboard life is fraught with problems with so many young women aboard.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)



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