Murder in the White House by Margaret Truman
In a town where the weapon of choice is usually a well-aimed rumor, the strangling of Secretary of State Lansard Blaine in the Lincoln Bedroom is a gruesome first. White House counsel Ron Fairbanks is ordered to investigate. There are persistent rumours that the Secretary was an accomplished womanizer with ties to a glamorous call girl. There is also troubling evidence of unofficial connections with international wheeler-dealers. In death as in life, Blaine is a power to be reckoned with. For Fairbanks, who loves the President’s daughter, one point is soon clear: only a few highly placed insiders had access to the Lincoln Bedroom that fateful evening and one of them was the president.
Annabel– book club set
In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret — the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as Annabel — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. Haunting, sweeping in scope, and stylistically reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Annabel is a compelling debut novel about one person’s struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction. ***then we could try getting Middlesex after to compare
Half-Blood Blues – book club set
Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen and he is black. Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris — where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance — Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of the resistance. Half-Blood Blues, the second novel by an exceptionally talented young writer, is an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – book club set
Beautiful Ruinsis a glorious read for book lovers. From the moment you pick up the novel, it conjures a world that you long to enter. The teal-blue Ligurian Sea laps against a jagged coastline filled with candy-colored houses and open windows. At first glance, you’re dying to get inside those houses and find out what’s going on.
You needn’t worry. Jess Walter has written a sumptuous epic about the real people who make art, spinning illusion for fun, profit, and meaning. There are screen actors, a novelist, and Pasquale, an innkeeper, who keeps his patrons fed and watered on homemade wine and dreams. Among all the shimmer and hope are the lost souls who long to create something, anything. And just as Jess Walter introduces us to these characters, he follows them for fifty years. The journey will delight and captivate you.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011. Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living — and whom he does it for. With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters — losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life — and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humour, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
Cat’s Tableby Michael Ondaatje
From Michael Ondaatje: an electrifying new novel, by turns thrilling and deeply moving — one of his most vividly rendered and compelling works of fiction to date. In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly “Cat’s Table” with an eccentric and unforgettable group of grownups and two other boys. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys find themselves immersed in the worlds and stories of the adults around them. At night they spy on a shackled prisoner — his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. Looking back from deep within adulthood, and gradually moving back and forth from the decks and holds of the ship to the years that follow the narrator unfolds a spellbinding and layered tale about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding, about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a sea voyage.
The Shadow of the Wind (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1)by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
The Thirteenth Taleby Diane Setterfield
Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels. Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case
The Dante Clubby Matthew Pearl
A series of grisly murders is rocking the streets of nineteenth-century Boston. But these are no ordinary killings. Each is inspired by the hellish visions of Dante’s Inferno. To end the bizarre and bloody spree, no ordinary detective will suffice. Enter the unlikely sleuths of the Dante Club: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J. T. Fields — renowned scholars with the skills to decipher the devilish clues. But can this band of bookish gentlemen outwit a crafty killer? A terror-stricken city — and their own lives — depend on it.
Grange House by Sarah Blake
Maisie Thomas spends every summer at Grange House, a hotel on the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant Miss Grange. In 1896, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: drowned lovers, found clasped in each other’s arms. It’s only the first in a series of events that casts a shadow over Maisie’s summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her disturbing stories of her past. Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, Grange House is a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos**a light read that I recommend — it does have romance but there’s also a bit of ‘mystery’ and lots of funny dialogue, perfect for warmer weather
When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs—eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother—goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life.
Love Walked In, the first novel by award-winning poet Marisa de los Santos, is bursting with keen insight and beautifully rendered prose. Invoking classic movies to illuminate the mystery and wonder of love in all its permutations, Love Walked In is an uplifting debut that marks the entrance of an enchanting literary voice.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot – book club set
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother, she never knew.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand)
Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force”by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century S pain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artefacts she discovers in its ancient binding — an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics