Friday Picks: Something for Everyone.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte). A CWA debut dagger winner, this book captured my heart. You'll be transported back to childhood and a time when things seemed safe, but don't be fooled, this is a very dark novel. The mystery is first rate, as is Bradley's turn of phrase. The novel begins in the summer of 1950 in the sleepy village of Bishop's Lacy. Flavia de Luce, the 11 year old heroine/detective with a penchant for poisons is a welcome addition to the world of mysteries. This book has it all: a country house, stamps, poison, terrific pacing, brilliant quirky characters, dark atmosphere, humor, and lots of twists and turns. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is wickedly brilliant. It's the first of the Buckshaw Chronicles, and I can hardly wait for the next.
Ravens (Grand Central Publishing) by George Dawes Green. After a wait of 14 years, Edgar Award winner George Dawes Green, has produced another excellent psychological thriller. Green is the author of the award winning Cave Man's Valentine and The Juror (both made into films), and I believe this is a real contender for another film. Friends Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia to fix a leaky tire on their way to Florida where they're going to get away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. At the service station, Shaw learns that a local family has won $318,000,000 in the state lottery. He then beings a ferocious scheme to squeeze the family for half of their prize money. Shaw's power over the family and the way he manipulates and drives terror into their hearts will keep you reading into the night. What I particularly liked about Ravens was that although it's dark, Green manages to infuse humor throughout, dark humor, but humor, all the same. From the first page you'll be swept up on a journey through the lives and thoughts of incredibly well developed and somewhat deprived odd characters. It's a 'creepy' novel, but I couldn't put it down. ( July 2009)*
Killer Cuts by Elaine Viets (New American Library). This is in the Dead End Jobs series. In Killer Cuts, Helen has taken another dead-end job to support herself and stay under the radar, this time at a high-end hair salon. She is an assistant and gofer to Miguel Angel, a Cuban celebrity stylist, who runs a salon where a haircut can cost as much as a car payment. The novel starts with the wedding of Kingman King Oden, a wealthy gossip blogger and cable TV show host. When he is murdered at his own wedding, things get hairy, All the usual suspects are in this Dead End job series, and Helen's own life and series development is intertwined skillfully. Fun, fast paced, good mystery and surprising resolution.