April 26, 2010 12:00 PM

Men and Dogs

by Katie Crouch |



Prepare to have your heart broken while laughing out loud at this breathtaking, scathingly sardonic novel. From her opening line-“Two days before Hannah’s father disappeared, he took her out in his boat”-Crouch (Girls in Trucks) grabs you and never lets go.

The story is delivered in the alternating voices of Hannah at age 11 and Hannah the thirtysomething “adult,” a train wreck of a woman whom we first meet in her San Francisco loft. Hung over and recently abandoned by the husband she’s been cheating on, she is composing a shopping list. “Better rug. Music contraption. More wine. Husband.” Crouch renders San Franciscans in caustic living color: the hipsters’ ironic T-shirts (“Nuke a Gay Whale for Jesus”); the “trustafarian couple” downstairs; the yuppies’ $115 takeout pasta. When Hannah goes home to Charleston to dry out and try to find her father, Crouch brings her eccentric southern kinfolk to life with equal verve. In the hands of a less adept author, this tightly wound tale of one woman’s unraveling and redemption might seem more grim than guffaw-worthy. But with Crouch in charge, the reader is assured of a reflective yet riotous ride.

The Lake Shore Limited

by Sue Miller |



Since her debut bestseller The Good Mother more than 20 years ago, Miller has written gripping novels that shrewdly tap the domestic zeitgeist. Lake Shore, set between snowy Vermont and brick-lined Boston, continues the trend, exploring the fragility of love-and life-in the post-9/11 era. At the novel’s center is the ghost of Gus, a young man killed on one of the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center. The loss still haunts his sister, his friends and his girlfriend, Billy, whose attempt at coming to terms involves writing a compelling play, The Lake Shore Limited, about the terrorist bombing of a train as it pulls into Chicago. The play-within-the-novel adds a layer of complexity to Miller’s latest tale, another graceful, poignant romance that resonates with the times.

Nowhere To Run

by C.J. Box |



Game warden Joe Pickett has only a few days left on his remote patrol before he can return to his family. But there’re strange doings in the Sierra Madre, and, as fans of Box’s stalwart hero know, Pickett cannot leave a job undone. This stellar novel combines harrowing adrenaline rushes with complex morality, humor and a landscape described so vibrantly it seems to have a life all its own.

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