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Category Archives: fiction

I don’t post much fiction on this site, but Major Pettigrew is a not-to-be-missed personality. Helen Simmonson’s debut novel sings with clarity, wisdom, excellent writing and a plot that churns up to the last page. If you liked Agatha Christie’s wry spoofs of English country villages and Barrow’s & Shaffer’s soft courageous portrayal of the Guernsey islands during WWII you’ll be in line for this one.

Covering such issues as racism, the denial of the outsider, and intercultural misunderstandings, the novel threads it way through a series of related events fraught with social gaffes and a ironic nuance, only to finally bring us to a very satisfying and unabashedly heartwarming conclusion.

Oh yes, no doubt about  it. Solid A


I can’t wait to tell you about this one.

Chevalier (Girl with the Pearl Earring), tackles a fascinating moment in natural history: the late 19nth century, when archeologists and historians were just beginning to probe evolution and natural selection.

At this time in history, the northwest coast of England revealed an astounding number of dinosaur skeletons, some perfectly preserved in their entirety. The book tells the story of the local fossil hunters, and one particularly talented young woman, Mary Anning. Virtually unschooled, Anning, nevertheless, had a knack for finding the remains of creatures never before seen by the Academy. This book is the story of her discoveries and of her struggle to be recognized by Britains’ academic elite, aided by an unusual advocate and friend.

The writing in the book is flawless: rich, poignant, and every word counts. Rarely do I regret a book coming to its end, this was one.

My take: oh yeah, A ++

meet the hacker.

I just read two thrillers, both feature characters who play the role of the hacker: a whiz who cracks codes, breaks into protected areas and retrieves critical information.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, is a stark, lyrical, knuckle biting gem by a man who should have written 12 more, but died of a heart attack shortly after publication. Probably the best thriller I’ve read in 5 years. No lie.

About Face, by Donna Leon. The 18th in her celebrated series. Not her best, but its got a great ending and, as always, features the talented Signorita Ellettra for whom pass codes and firewalls are a mere delay in the quest for information and data.

The Girl: A+

About Face: A –