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Simon Boudlin and his fiddle were conscripted into the Confederate Army to provide music for the last vestiges of a lost cause. When the Civil War ends, he brushes the Texas dust off of his tattered clothes, gathers up a motley group of fellow musicians, and sets off to realize his dreams. This is another wonderful adventure story from the author of News of the World. Simon is reminiscent of some of Mark Twain's decent, goodhearted protagonists with just a touch of a crusty Larry McMurtry character added as a zesty garnish. I enjoyed every minute of his determined quest. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
No one will ever know exactly what happened on a blisteringly hot August morning in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts when Andrew Borden, a prominent local businessman, and his wife were hacked to death in their modest home on Second Street. Victoria Lincoln had a better pedigree than most for making an informed speculation. She knew the prime suspect. Her family was part of the upper crust in Fall River that Lizzie wanted so desperately to join. Local society breathed a sigh of relief after her trial and acquittal, but they never forgave Lizzie Borden for shaming them. Lincoln believes that the sharply drawn layers of Fall River's social strata played a major role in precipitating an event that only assumed lethal proportions after a psychotic episode during which Lizzie succumbed to temporary madness. By far the best researched, most intelligently constructed book on this fascinating subject. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
After the death of their wealthy father, a brother and his sister are told by their wicked stepmother to leave the amazing glass house in which they were raised. The pair devise an ingenious scheme to get even. The author adds some deft contemporary touches to a story that seems to have garnered its inspiration from classic fairy tales. The relationship that exists between the siblings is touching, infuriating, frustrating, and, if you have a brother or a sister, often familiar. As she demonstrated in Commonwealth, Patchett's gift for creating strong emotional bonds between the reader and her characters is again on dazzling display. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
The attraction of Connell and Marianne is like the positive and negative ends of an electrical circuit. Their connection provides a brilliant flash of light, but never enough illumination to generate the prospect of a life together. This is a painfully honest contemporary love story by an author who refuses to compromise her central characters' pragmatism with the injection of artificial sentimentality or conventional romantic tropes. A very impressive literary accomplishment by a writer to watch closely. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
A black farmer destroys his home and livestock and leaves the land where he has lived his entire life. The incident triggers a mass exodus of African American inhabitants in a state in the South. This unusual and powerfully effective story of racial subjugation, reminiscent of William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust, is written with an unerring perception for both white and black sensibilities. A rediscovered masterwork in the canon of Southern literature. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves