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December 24, 2009 Edition
Only a year before he was an ecologically-minded philosopher living lightly on the land, Henry David Thoreau was an unhappy worker in his father’s pencil factory who took a day off to go fishing with a friend. When he and his friend lit a fire to cook the fish they’d caught, the wind spread the fire into the nearby Concord woods and burned nearly 300 acres before the townspeople were able to stop it. Pipkin uses this event (which took Thoreau years to acknowledge even to himself) as the backbone for the story of how such an unintended disaster might have been responsible for turning Thoreau onto a new path. He also uses it to highlight several of the townspeople, showing their lives in the small community, and creating a portrait of a new country beginning to demonstrate the strength of its “melting pot.”
This double mystery follows Ghanaian Inspector Darko Dawson as he is called back to his mother’s home village to investigate the murder of a young AIDS worker. Ketanu is far removed from Accra, where Darko lives with his wife and their young son, but it has never been far from his thoughts. When he was young, his mother went to Ketanu to visit her sister, but she never returned, and the detective investigating the case became such an enduring figure in Darko’s life that he became a police officer and worked his way up. Now, back in Ketanu with more resources at his disposal than before, Darko is determined not only to solve the recent murder, but also to find out as much as he can about his mother and her disappearance. Doing so, however, will bring the old traditions and beliefs that still hold sway in the remote areas of Ghana into conflict with more Darko’s more scientific mind. This is the first in a series by Ghanaian-born Quartey.
Leonid McGill has decided to take his life “from crooked to slightly bent”, causing the range of jobs the private eye deems acceptable to narrow a bit. He’s no longer so keen to jump when Tony “The Suit” Towers crooks a finger, but maybe he should be. He’s on his guard when he takes a job tracking down four men based only on their street names, but it isn’t enough. Soon after finding all four, LT finds them being picked off one by one and becomes a person of interested to the police and to several underground tough guys. Set in New York instead of Los Angeles, and in 21st century rather than the 1940s, this first in a new series has Mosley’s trademark wit and street smarts with a more modern sensibility.
Benjamin Weaver is something of a Hanoverian James Bond: a former boxer and for-hire ruffian, he is available to the right employer for delicate jobs, for instance, humiliating a gentleman’s rival at the gambling table. But when the job goes sour, Weaver finds himself working off his debt to Jerome Cobb by breaking into Craven House, the seat of the most powerful organizations of the time, the East India Company. This is the third of Weaver’s fast-paced historical adventures (all available in large print) featuring murder, mystery, and beautiful women.
When millionaire Wyatt Holbrook discovers he needs a liver transplant and that his two acknowledged children aren’t suitable donors, he starts down the list of babies born from his sperm donations in hopes of finding a match. Madison Connelly is one of those children: still reeling from her husband’s divorce, she’s flat-out disbelieving when a private detective tracks her down to tell her that the man she thought was her father really wasn’t. While she’s trying to decide what to do, it becomes clear that there’s someone out there who wants Wyatt dead and is willing to kill off his biological children to make sure there’s no transplant available. Psychological and romantic tensions take precedence over bullet-dodging action in this suspenseful novel.