Tag Archives: W.W. Norton

Review: A Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe

9th October 2012

*I received this from the publisher Pegasus in exchange for an honest review.

DI Hazel Micallef doesn’t believe a bee killed Henry Wiest. The man is a fixture in Kehoe Glenn, and something is off. Found outside a cigarette shop on the First Nations Reserve, Henry’s death is written off as accidental, and the reservation police don’t dig much further than that. Hazel isn’t satisfied. Henry didn’t smoke, and why was he on the reservation in the first place? The more questions she asks, the more disturbing the answers that DI Micallef finds until the resulting chaos can’t be ignored by anyone.

This is the kind of case that news reporters say “rock the small community” with its violence. I received this book in the mail without having heard of it before, I picked it up to read the first couple chapters and spent the ensuing afternoon and evening reading every last page of this book.

A Door in the River is one in a series of mysteries featuring Hazel Micallef, and I could definitely tell I was missing some of her personality and background because this was the first I’d read. Hazel is recovering from back surgery. She’s divorced, and her elderly, ailing mother has moved in with her. There are also a lot of changes going on at work, and I felt a bit in the dark with the references to past work history. However, the lack of background didn’t affect the overall novel (I particularly hate information dumps), which was paced well and extremely suspenseful. The book opens with a girl on the run and a dying man. How she figures into the story is what the rest of the novel works to figure out.

With a little Lisbeth Salander-style revenge and a lot of tension, A Door in the River was a great introduction to Kehoe Glenn and DI Micallef.

[Note: I would recommend beginning this series with the first book, The Calling.]

Add this to your shelf or see other reviews on Goodreads.

Out of Print Love

16th November 2011

I am not particularly interested in bookish news as, no doubt, you’ve noticed around these parts. However, The Millions often has some great articles and snippets, such as this little jewel.  Apparently Norton has a redesign of the Jeeves’ books, and they’re really delightful.

Very Good, Jeeves!

 Designer: Lilli Carre

The Inimitable Jeeves

 Designer: Jonathan Bartlett

Just Enough Jeeves
Designer: John Hendrix
The first two are my favorites, but the last is fun as well. Then, of course, there are also the beautiful covers on the Patricia Wentworth books, produced digitally by Open Road Media, proving ebook covers can certainly be lovely:

Though I am not normally a fan of covers with only partial body parts of women, I am also not a fan of full photos of people on the covers. I find it takes away from my own depiction of the characters. [Cue the “picky” jokes.] These, though, are well designed, and I love the image of London behind the title.

So. Have you come across any fantastic redesigns or out-of-print books being reprinted? I’d love to see them.

Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant

27th October 2011

*I received this book courtesy of the author and the publisher, W.W. Norton in exchange for an honest review.

Joan Leegant’s novel Wherever You Go is both exactly what you’d expect and nothing you’d expect from a novel set in Israel. Personally, I expected judgment and religious discourse. Instead, I found a very thoughtful novel, which I thought aptly expressed the ambiguity toward Israel many Americans feel.

Partially, Leegant is able to do this because of her characters: three Americans with arms and legs and whole bodies reaching, willingly or unwillingly, to that Holy Land, Jerusalem. Yona – to see her estranged sister, now a mother of five married to a radical and living in the West Bank. Mark – whose return to New York causes him to question his devotion and career, teaching the Talmud. Aaron – to find a place to fit, away from his famous father’s gaze and disapproval.

The three are connected only by one instant in the novel, toward the very end, and I very much appreciated the more natural flow. I dislike it when authors attempt to neatly pull together three characters without much cause, in an attempt to change them in some way. In Wherever You Go, however, the change has been occurring, and the reader witnesses the transformation through flashbacks and narration: Yona’s acceptance of herself and her sister; Mark’s realization that a devoted life doesn’t have to be a purely sacrificial life; Aaron’s attempt to overcome apathy.

Since it is such a character-driven novel, it did take me a bit to get into, but I should also tell you how much I fell in love with Mark Greenglass. I could honestly have followed him alone throughout the entire novel. I loved that Leegant juxtaposed his addiction to drugs with his addiction to the Talmud and how oblivious he is to it until he must face the one person capable of recalling him to his former self. He stays, awkwardly, in his parent’s luxurious Manhattan home while there on a teaching job, and his vain, proud mother slowly tries to make up for his father’s coldness. And the moment when he realizes he has been punishing himself because of his former life only reinforced the beauty of his character.

In Wherever You Go, Leegant is critical of extremism, whether through Yona’s multiple affairs with married men, Mark’s denial of human affection, or Aaron’s misguided political beliefs. For as much as this is a book about Judaism, it’s much more a book about fanaticism and the guises we use to cover up brutality and cruelty.

So now I’m curious. Have you read this? Have you read any other books that deftly explore Jerusalem and its political divisiveness?