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Waiting for Sunrise

by William Boyd |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

Set in 1913, Boyd’s latest densely plotted escapade centers on a diffident English actor named Lysander Rief. Plagued by physical difficulties “when I engage in lustful activity,” as he puts it, Rief heads to Vienna for help and finds himself in a giddy world of sensuality, intrigue and European worldliness. He’s soon cured-thanks to a combination of pioneering psychotherapy and the ministrations of one Hettie Bull, an artist who, he suspects, is as dangerous as she is alluring. “I think I am in serious trouble,” he reflects. “I know I am. But what can I do?” Rief lingers on in Vienna as the continent slides into war, only to find himself trapped into becoming a secret agent. Always a smooth and expert storyteller, Boyd (Any Human Heart) effortlessly combines historical detail with a sexy, galloping narrative that proves irresistible. No surprise, then, that the Ian Fleming estate has selected him to write the next James Bond novel, due to be published late next year.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

by Anna Quindlen |

MEMOIR

With this thoughtful memoir, novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Quindlen, 59, joins the ranks of baby boomers fretting aloud over their stage in life. Wistful and a little apprehensive, she dissects career and family, faith and feminism, the comforts of friendship and the physical changes of aging, and comes away determined to hang onto the feeling of possibility that defined her generation. It’s familiar terrain, but some of her observations will have you smiling in solidarity.

The Gods of Gotham

by Lyndsay Faye |

REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

THRILLER

As a member of New York City’s first police force in 1845, former bartender Timothy Wilde isn’t quite sure how to be a cop. But his Sherlockian instincts soon lead him to the discovery that a group of poor children has been brutally murdered. His morphine-addled brother, also on the force, tries to throw him off the scent, while the police chief wants to keep the crimes quiet or they’ll “rock the city.” Wilde’s crush, the angelic Mercy, has a few secrets of her own. With echoes of Gangs of New York, Faye’s taut, intelligent thriller mesmerizes.

These Girls

by Sarah Pekkanen |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

People migrate to big cities seeking more: more fame, more distance, more anonymity. Cate, one of three girls sharing a Manhattan apartment in Pekkanen’s third novel, longs to prove herself as features editor at a women’s glossy. Renee, a size 12, is desperate to become the beauty editor, but fears her full figure will hold her back. And Abby, a former nanny, has fled D.C. with a secret she longs to forget. As their friendships deepen, the city comes through for all three, if not quite in the ways they’d imagined. These Girls doesn’t tread new ground, but it’s a pleasure.