August2017 Booklist 23 www.booklistonline.com
naïve Meadows some worldly ways before he
committed eight years of his life to the naval penitentiary; then again, shenanigans may
be inevitable. Trains, of course, are missed.
Authority, of course, is questioned. Friendships, of course, are tested. And through it all,
Ponicsán delivers an irreverent, acerbic, but
nonetheless poignant look at the true nature
of loyalty. Recommend both novels and the
movie. —Carol Haggas
The Last to See Me.
By M Dressler.
Sept. 2017. 272p. Skyhorse, $22.99 (9781510720671).
A real estate agent is fighting tooth and
nail to pawn off a pricey piece of property in
a Northern California logging town. Selling
the old-money mansion would be a breeze
were it not for the unpredictable paranormal
activity taking place every time the house is
shown to a new yuppie couple. The realtor
hires a reputable spirit hunter to “clean” the
property of hauntress Emma Rose Finnis,
who has no plans to leave the material world.
Emma isn’t in the business of scaring potential homebuyers for naught. She is working
tirelessly to have her life remembered. The
house she haunts once belonged to the family
of her lover, a family that deemed her unfit
to marry their heir. She perished in the early
1900s while fighting for her right to love and
is committed to disturbing the peace until she
can find some of her own. Told in alternating
timelines, sliding seamlessly between Emma’s
time in life and in death, Dressler’s chilly new
story is one woman’s unforgettable fight for
visibility. —Courtney Eathorne
By Pascal Mercier. Tr. by Shaun
Sept. 2017. 304p. Grove, $24 (9780802121660).
In international best-selling Mercier’s (Night
Train to Lisbon, 2008) psychologically astute portrait of an emotionally damaged
family, Martijn Van Vliet, a successful biocy-berneticist, is raising his daughter, Lea, alone
following the death of his wife from leukemia. Eight-year-old Lea, withdrawn and
troubled, discovers her destiny when she
hears the strains of a Bach partita emanating
Orca’s Rapid Reads series continues to turn out satisfying short books for adults across multiple genres and designed for ESL
students, emerging readers, and anyone looking for a one-night read.
By Gail Anderson-Dargatz.
Sept. 2017. 120p. Orca, paper, $9.95 (9781459815049); e-book (9781459815049).
Tough times are nothing new for Eva, dubbed “Cookie” by a local
at the bakery where she works. Cookie has struggled to make ends
meet while raising her daughter, Katie, now in college. But Cookie
isn’t the only one with money problems—the bakery is closing, and
there aren’t a lot of options in town for a single mother without a
high-school diploma. The thought of opening her own bakery doesn’t
even cross Cookie’s mind until Katie encourages her, pushing her to
take a class on business management. But opening a bakery takes
more than skills in the kitchen and good money sense; it requires a
confidence that Cookie doesn’t think she has. She has friends on her
side—including a handsome regular who seems interested in more
than her baking—but it won’t mean a thing
if Cookie can’t believe in herself. Cookie’s
perseverance through hardship is certainly
inspiring, and her bonds with the local
community heartwarming. For readers who
need a little encouragement, this is just the
ticket. —Maggie Reagan
Murder below Zero.
By John Lawrence Reynolds.
Oct. 2017. 144p. Orca, paper, $9.95
(9781459814592); e-book (9781459814615).
Summer is slow to arrive in Port Ainslie,
Ontario, this year, but the discovery of a
man’s body—“dead as a duck and frozen like a Popsicle”—is even
more unusual than the unseasonably cold air. In a town where crime
typically consists of an off-leash dog or noisy band practice, murder is
in its own league. Luckily, Police Chief Maxine Benson has experience
with big-city crime, not that the Ontario Provincial Police officers
on the scene care. Patronizing and arrogant, they dismiss Max out
of hand, but she’s not put off so easily. She begins her own investigation, which reveals not one murder, but two. This second Maxine
Benson mystery takes a few interesting turns and keeps its suspense
mild. Though her internal musings can feel stilted, Max satisfyingly
puts the provincial police in their place through her competence and
spirited determination, and in doing so demonstrates her affection
for the people of Port Ainslie. Hand to readers interested in female
detectives or small-town mysteries. —Julia Smith
White Sand Blues.
By Vicki Delany.
Oct. 2017. 144p. Orca, paper, $9.95 (9781459815353); e-book (9781459815377).
Canadian crime writer Delany (Blood and Belonging, 2017) has
a variety of series to her credit, including one featuring RCMP
Sergeant Ray Robertson, and with this concise, easily compre-
hended mystery she launches a new line featuring paramedic
Ashley Grant. Intent on making a good impression on her new
job, Ashley has invested in fancy clothes, only to destroy them as
she wades into the sea to retrieve a dead man. She has fled Toronto
for the tiny Caribbean nation called Victoria and Albert Islands,
grabbing at the lifeline of a one-year contract after her boyfriend’s
wrenching betrayal. Quickly embroiled in a murder investigation
sparked by the divergent claims of the victim’s wife and daugh-
ter, Ashley soon discovers that she isn’t the only escapee from
the Canadian cold in this alleged island paradise. Delany makes
excellent use of a highly accessible narrative style, keeping her
language simple while unspooling an intriguingly tangled plot in
which Ashley’s acute observational skills
and stubborn and accurate sleuthing at-
tract the initially skeptical, increasingly
admiring attention of a handsome former
Mountie serving as an island policeman.
Worst Date Ever.
By Melodie Campbell.
Sept. 2017. 128p. Orca, paper, $9.95
(9781459815599); e-book (9781459815612).
Widowed two years ago, Jenny is fi-
nally ready to date again. Her best friend,
Angela, is thrilled, and even Jenny’s
12-year-old son, Ryan, is glad she’s looking for someone to spend
time with. Jenny takes two weeks off from work and, using the
dating website E-Galaxy, schedules several daytime dates at her
favorite coffee shop. Unfortunately, some dates start out badly,
and the rest only take a few hours to get there. Operation Prince
Charming is tanking, and Jenny misses her husband as the two-
week clock ticks down and she inches toward hopelessness. With
an “Everytown” setting, minimal character development, and
a pat, happy ending, Campbell (The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter,
2017) keeps readers focused on an easy-to-follow plot that’s pre-
dictable, with some humorous departures. This is great for adult
newcomers to reading or the English language as well as anyone
who enjoys zipping through a lighthearted read in a single, short
sitting. —Annie Bostrom