April 04, 2011 12:00 PM

Started Early, Took My Dog

by Kate Atkinson |

REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

NOVEL

If it’s expedient crime-solving you want, don’t call Jackson Brodie. Now 50 and semiretired, Atkinson’s quirky police detective-here in his fourth starring role-is distractible, given to impulse and so dubious about his own sleuthing skills that “he didn’t know why he didn’t just get [’I don’t understand’] tattooed to his forehead.” Luckily, he’s excellent company, and in Atkinson’s world that’s what counts. Hired this time out to find an adoptee’s birth parents, Jackson stumbles on a decades-old unsolved murder in his native Yorkshire. A feisty terrier he steals along the way ends up saving him from death-by-thugs; in a parallel story line, a policewoman involved in the old case kidnaps a child and goes on the lam. Improbably, the strands all knit together nicely in the end, creating a tapestry that’s equal parts whodunit and meditation on parental love. Atkinson has said she needs a break from Brodie, but when his phone rings in the final pages, it’s the ex he’s been pining for on the line… . Here’s hoping he’ll be back.

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted

by Bridget Asher |

REVIEWED BY KRISTEN MASCIA

NOVEL

Young widow Heidi takes off for a summer at her family’s home in the French countryside, an enchanted retreat where, according to family lore, generations of her relatives found love. As the cottage casts its spell, she begins to heal, and in a summer full of surprises, Heidi gets a second lease on love. Fans of Under the Tuscan Sun will adore this impossibly romantic read.

The Troubled Man

by Henning Mankell |

REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

FICTION

Long before Stieg Larsson crowded bestseller lists, fellow Swede Mankell created an indelible detective of his own-brooding Kurt Wallander. In this gripping mystery, the 11th in the series, the Scandinavian sleuth is searching for Hakan von Enke, a retired sub commander who’s vanished just days after telling Wallander about a vessel that military higher-ups inexplicably decided not to bring to the surface. Von Enke also happens to be Wallander’s future son-in-law’s dad, and the case becomes personal. As satisfying for its emotional depth as its suspense, Man may be Wallander’s last ride, says Mankell. It’s an unforgettable finale.

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