October 15, 2016 Booklist 19 www.booklistonline.com
distinctly disquieting tales portray families
shattered by closed factories, lost and dead-end jobs, foreclosed houses, meth addiction,
failures to love, and despair. In passages of
startling beauty and tenderness, Colbert
draws striking correlations between the destruction of nature and human suffering. In
“Erosion,” a woman in a faltering marriage,
unable to get pregnant and in need of a job,
thinks, “I’m the coral reefs dying, the hole
in the ozone, pollution, drought, the planet’s bad news.” A nature-loving yet unloved
boy becomes a confused man who holds a
15-year-old girl captive to protect her. Other
characters are haunted by lost siblings and
burdened by thoughts of extinction. Colbert’s
divining sense of brokenness and our longing for wholeness make for extraordinarily
incisive, stirring, funny, and haunting all-American stories. —Donna Seaman
The Winter in Anna.
By Reed Karaim.
Jan. 2017. 256p. Norton, $25.95 (9780393608502).
Although the main character of Karaim’s
second novel is a journalist, as in his first novel (If Men Were Angels, 1999), the author takes
a departure here from insider politics to character study in small-town North Dakota. Eric
has dropped out of college and finds work
at the Shannon Sentinel covering local (read:
high school) sports teams. There he meets
the beautiful, older Anna, who will become
his work partner and closest friend. Anna has
left a secretive past and an abusive husband
behind, things Eric yearns to know about but
struggles to understand. He tells the story of
their relationship through the eyes of his middle-aged self, after he has learned tragic news
that makes him question his actions during
the time he knew Anna. The well-drawn secondary characters and the details of working
for a newspaper in the halcyon days prior to
the Internet round out the novel. Pair this
with Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik,
another new novel about a young man detailing an early relationship and its long-lasting
effects. —Kathy Sexton
The Boy Who Escaped Paradise.
By J. M. Lee. Tr. by Chi-Young Kim.
Dec. 2016. 288p. Pegasus, $24.95 (9781681772523).
Gil-mo, a North Korean defector, is found
huddled beside the brutalized body of Steve
Yoon, a fellow defector, re-
spected advocate for North
Koreans in New York
City, and key informant
on Pyongyang’s nuclear
capabilities. Yoon’s body
is covered in perplexing
which earns noncommuni-
cative Gil-mo a trip to an FBI detainment
center, where he is treated for stab wounds
and aggressively interrogated. Noting both
Interpol’s profile of Gil-mo as a murderous
gangster and the mysterious formulas found
on Yoon’s body, the FBI suspects that Gil-mo
is a revenge agent sent by the North Korean
government. Gil-mo refuses to speak until
his nurse draws him out through complex
mathematical puzzles. In their talks, Gil-mo
slowly reveals his story, beginning in a North
Korean prison camp and leaping to Shanghai,
Seoul, and New York City. In sharp contrast
to the FBI’s theory, Gil-mo is unveiled as an
autistic mathematical savant who’s used his
unique skills to survive a journey through
Asia’s underworld in order to honor a child-
hood promise. Lee creates a dignified and
moving portrait of North Koreans’ struggle
for freedom at home and abroad, and inter-
twines it with a rogue-genius adventure—all
without sacrificing the appeal of either
plotline. Another outstanding thriller from
Lee (The Investigation, 2015), whose novels
have garnered massive acclaim in Korea.
Cat Got Your Diamonds.
By Julie Chase.
Nov. 2016. 336p. Crooked Lane, $25.99
(9781629538426); e-book, $11.99 (9781629538433).
Lacy Crocker is happy that she has a small-business investor for her Magazine Street pet
boutique and organic-treat bakery. She left a
fiancé in Arlington, Virginia, with few assets
and lots of student loans. An offensive customer returns late at night, and Lacy blasts
him with her glitter gun before calling police.
She learns that he was killed at the back door
to her shop, and handsome Detective Jack
Oliver thinks she killed him. Her investor
does not want to be associated with the investigation, so Lacy uses the network she grew
up with to find information. Detective Jack
starts appearing wherever she is, especially after Lacy continues to chase clues, and there
are break-ins at her house and store. Humorous scenarios fitting pets for costumes lighten
the mystery. The banter between Lacy and the
detective, plus the local New Orleans color,
will delight readers. Fans of Miranda James
may also enjoy this. —Amy Alessio
By Patricia Cornwell.
Nov. 2016. 400p. Morrow, $28.99 (9780062436689);
e-book, $14.99 (9780062436726).
Chaos is Cornwell’s twenty-fourth thriller
starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.
The stakes are always high for Kay, and this
time out they are raised by a poetic cyberbully
who knows way too many intimate details
about her, her family, and her forensics team.
Fans of the series will not be surprised by the
identity of the villain, but if they can last
through the interminable opening dialogue
and the tedious walk through Harvard Square,
they will rejoice when the forensics tent is fi-
nally set up and Kay shifts into overdrive. A
young woman has been killed while riding
her bicycle in JFK Park, her body displaying
all the classic marks of a lightning strike. The
weather is unbearably hot and humid, but
there are no clouds and no thunder. Cornwell
serves up a “chaos theory” all her own that in-
cludes an application of nanotechnology that
is as terrifying as the disturbed minds of its
creators. The ending borders on melodramat-
ic but brings unexpected revelations that will
undoubtedly affect her familial relationships
in future stories. —Jane Murphy
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Despite
some unevenness in her recent efforts,
Cornwell continues to sit comfortably at the
crime-fiction best-seller table.
By Kristina Ohlsson.
Dec. 2016. 496p. Emily Bestler/Washington Square, paper,
$17 (9781476734064); e-book, $7.99 (9781476734088).
Fredrika Bergman is a brilliant crime analyst
and Alex Recht is a police inspector, and together they solve crimes in Stockholm. Peder
Rydh, former policeman and newly minted
head of security at the Solomon Center, a Jewish community, is immediately thrust into
turmoil. A preschool teacher is shot and killed
in the middle of the afternoon pickup, and a
short time later two 10-year-old boys go missing. The boys are found dead the next day, left
in the woods with paper bags over their heads.
The story starts escalating, landing Fredrika in
Israel and involving Efraim, a Mossad agent,
as well as Eden, an agent with Sago, the Swedish secret police. This is an intricate story with
tentacles that dig into an Israeli myth called the
Paper Boy, a Mossad operation gone horribly
wrong, and the Sago investigator’s personal crisis, yet it never gets bogged down. If only these
principal investigators weren’t all so secretive,
the murders could probably have been solved a
hundred pages sooner, but what’s the fun in that?
Dead or Alive.
By Ken McCoy.
Oct. 2016. 256p. Severn, $29.99 (9780727886330);
McCoy offers his take on a familiar crime-fiction character: the policeman or ex-policeman
with a chaotic private life and an overenthusiastic manner on the job. The troubled cop
here is Detective Inspector Sep Black of the
West Yorkshire Police, sacked after an obnoxious, boozed-up politician dies in his custody.
Black’s scheme for getting his job back requires
suspension of disbelief: he disguises himself
as a lowlife and offers to snitch for the cop
who helped can him. Fortunately, the author
notes with a slug of irony, Black’s redemption
is helped by kidnapping and white-slavery
schemes. McCoy tells his tale with great dash—
plus plenty of tension and violence—and he
brightens it with doses of English-major wit.
Black and a therapist discuss Hamlet, a pipe-smoking prostitute wises him up on Socrates,
and Black goes through his day reflecting on
Woody Guthrie. And his interrogation methods, described in some detail, are fun to watch.
“Dealing with lowlifes and being honest never
work together,” he says at one point, requiring