Here are the books I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on March 6. These works of fiction, thrilling, engaging and informative, will help you make the most of spring break—at home or away.
Sunday Silence (Morrow Paperbacks) Nicci French is actually a wife-and-husband writing team—Nicci Gerrard and Sean French—and they’ve sold millions of books all over the world. This one, with a lavishly descriptive London backdrop (think Sherlock), has a police-consultant psychologist as the protagonist. Frieda Klein has found a body under the floorboards of her house. When the corpse turns out to be someone Klein knows, she becomes a person of interest to the police. But Klein has other things to worry about—she’s being threatened by a notorious serial killer named Dan Reeve whom everyone thought was dead. As family and friends are targeted, Klein begins to believe that it’s not Reeve who’s stalking her after all but a copycat killer inspired—and encouraged—by him. This is a smart psychological thriller with plenty of page-turning twists. Also, it’s available in paperback so it’s spring-break-beach-trip ready.
Future Home of the Living God (Harper) National Book Award-winning Louise Erdrich has been one of America’s best writers for decades. In this New York Times Notable Book for 2017, she tells a tale that is immediately relevant in a lot of ways—good and troubling. In this dystopian thriller, evolution suddenly has stopped and pregnant women quickly become pawns in a war between government, corporate, and religious factions. Cedar, 26 years old and pregnant with her first child, is the adopted daughter of idealistic Minneapolis liberals. When she and her baby are targeted, she seeks refuge with her biological Ojibwe family. As normal society disintegrates and the future becomes more uncertain, Cedar’s own life changes in ways she never imagined. This novel is smart and dark and, at times, darkly funny. It’s fiction, but parts of this book will feel unsettlingly real.
Elmet (Workman) This book by Fiona Mozley was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, and those picks are always winners. Also, it collected accolades from such diverse sources as The Guardian, Amazon, IndieBound, and People magazine. Not bad for a debut novel, which has just been published in paperback for American readers. This coming-of-age story with a fairy-tale feel is set in beautiful, rural Yorkshire. Teenagers Cathy and Daniel and their father are living life off the grid in modern Britain. Cathy and Daniel spend days roaming the ancient woods, occasionally visiting a local woman for some tutoring. Their father, a gentle man who nonetheless is capable of violence, provides for them, building their little home, hunting for their meals. Their existence in the forest—embracing the beauty and the challenges of self-sufficiency—is peaceful until they clash with a local, wealthy landowner. The story, ultimately, is about class differences and family loyalty and humanity’s capacity for good and evil. This one will stay with you for a while.
White Truffles in Winter (Norton) Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) was the preeminent French chef of the early 20th century. Called the “king of chefs and the chef of kings” by the press, he had a huge influence on how we cook and eat today. He codified the recipes for the five “mother sauces,” and his Le Guide Culinaire is still used today as both a cookbook and a text book on cooking techniques. His approach to kitchen management was revolutionary. He was the first to use a brigade—with various chefs and cooks playing their own roles in the assembly of a dish. In his kitchen, shouting was not allowed, and the staff often communicated in whispers. This book of historical fiction by N.M. Kelby takes readers into Escoffier’s kitchens as well as into the Paris salons and studios of painters like Monet and Degas. The heart of the book, though, is about Escoffier’s private life and his love for two very different women—his wife, the poet Delphine Daffis, and the beautiful and mercurial actress Sarah Bernhardt. The descriptions of food here are beyond delicious.