Saturday, September 25, 2021

Dear Great Book Guru, I see a long winter ahead and I would like nothing better than to find a compelling series to read - something meaningful, thoughtful, but also entertaining…and I do love a mystery!  Seeking a Series

 Dear Seeking a Series, Just this week I read a book in a series I have enjoyed greatly over the years. Daniel Silva’s THE ORDER is the 20th book in his Gabriel Allon series and while I had read most of his earlier books, this latest addition might be my favorite.  Allon is a brilliant art restorer and legendary spy who is now head of the Israeli spy organization, the Mossad, referred to as the Office in the series.  Throughout the books there are references to famous art masterpieces in museums, churches and private collections. Interwoven with these art references is the basic plot line of international intrigue and Allon’s job is to prevent catastrophic upheaval with as little mayhem as possible. In THE ORDER, the setting is the Vatican and the plot involves the suspicious death of a present-day, progressive pope.  A secret organization that has its roots in early 20th century Europe and steeped in anti-Semitism is plotting to have its candidate elected the next pope. Using large sums of money to bribe the electors, the group seems about to change the international power structure when Allon is called upon to right the situation.  The various characters - good and evil - are meticulously drawn and the vivid descriptions of Rome, Florence, and Venice alone are worth the read but the underlying mystery itself is completely enthralling.  A very satisfying, thought-provoking addition to the series…highly recommended!



Dear Great Book Guru, This weekend is the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Newcomers Party and I am very excited.  As a newcomer this year, I am very eager to meet up with people who have moved to the Village over the last year or so, but I am not good at making small talk.  I was thinking if I had a good book I could mention, it might make for an easier time.  Any thoughts?  Nervous Newcomer

Dear Nervous Newcomer, I think it is always a good idea to have a book in mind in any situation and I have a great one for you to quickly read in the next few days: A GOOD MOTHER by Lara Bazelon. This legal thriller opens in 2006 on an American airbase in Germany with a transcript of a frantic call from a woman who is being viciously attacked.  Her infant daughter is crying in the background and soon we realize she has killed her assailant. The next entry is three days later in a Los Angeles courtroom and the young mother is awaiting trial for first degree murder. The public defender is a very pregnant attorney with a reputation for unorthodox methods of representing her clients. The rest of the book shifts from the present to the back stories of both the attorney and client. Throughout, we are presented with the question of what makes a good mother. Their families, the public, the court, the press… all weigh in and in the end we too question what makes a good mother.  Highly recommended!

Monday, September 6, 2021


Dear Great Book Guru,  With Sea Cliff School open and Sea Cliff Beach closed, it really feels like Fall.  I need a good book to help me make the seasonal transition.  Do you have a  fast moving novel with a touch of mystery?  Falling into Fall

 Dear Falling into Fall, THE QUIET BOY by Ben Winters is a compelling read and a fascinating combination of genres.  At first glance it is a legal thriller but then we soon see it is a complex family drama, and then suddenly we realize we are in a deadly sci fi horror tale.  The novel begins in 2019 at a fast-food restaurant where we meet the salad man, depressed and unhappy with how his life is going. Next chapter brings us back to 2008 where his story begins. Jay Schenk is an “ambulance chaser”, a lawyer always in search of a lucrative accident or malpractice case. He is well liked and well connected so when his source tells him about a teenager – Wesley Keener - who after being operated on for a sports injury, is now in a zombie state - walking in circles, no speech, no recognition - he imagines the case of a lifetime. He easily convinces the family to hire him …and soon we are in 2019. His career is over, his son and he are estranged, his clients are facing a murder charge, and Wesley continues to stare, never seeing, walking endlessly, ever quiet - a story of parents and children, science and myth, good and evil. Recommended!