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Three college friends agree to meet on Martha's Vineyard decades after their graduation. The disappearance of a young woman, who was loved by all three men, finally clouds the reunion despite their efforts to avoid a subject that has haunted them throughout their lives. Russo's skill for creating vivid characters and detailing their complex interrelationships is apparent, but this novel is something of a departure for the author because the mystery of what happened to the woman is its prevalent theme. Reminiscent of Rebecca in which Daphne DuMaurier's title character is always there and yet she is never really there. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
New Bedford, Massachusetts was once a booming coastal city, but by 1988 it had fallen into a steep decline. Police authorities, already submerged by a tidal wave of drug related crime, were faced with an even greater challenge when the badly decomposed bodies of missing women began being discovered along local highways. Many of the dead were eventually identified as drug-addicted women who had turned to prostitution to support their habit, drawing them into contact with some of the most unsavory characters in the area. Catching the one who was a killer became an even more daunting task. This is a meticulously researched chronicle that delves into the sad and devastated lives of the victims and their families while honoring the dedicated men and women who were determined to bring a serial murderer to justice. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
Olive Kitteridge, America's favorite basically unhappy schoolteacher from Maine, is back. The author uses a familiar conceit, filling her novel with vignettes of life in the coastal community of Crosby. Olive, bewildered and disappointed by the relentlessly downward trajectory of her own life, has decided to remarry. She harbors no starry-eyed notions of a blissful second-time-around union, but sees the marriage as a chance to dissipate the loneliness that envelopes her days like a fog off the ocean. Her estranged son, however, doesn't care much for the idea. Strout has a peerless ability to invest her characters with a humanity that makes them not merely fictitious creations in a book, but acquaintances we care deeply about. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
This powerful story of vigilante justice has taken its rightful place among the great American novels of the last century. In 1885 Nevada, three innocent men find themselves at the mercy of a lynch mob. The book provides an eloquent depiction of the systematic breakdown of the rules that govern civilized people and the tragedy that inevitably results. It is as potent a warning today as it was on the cusp of World War II. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
A Jewish woman summons up a golem to protect her daughter during the child's perilous journey from Berlin to escape Nazi persecution. Although the girl resents her protector assuming a role that once belonged to her beloved parent, a bond develops between the pair, making her mother's final admonition to her even more difficult to obey. The author, as she did in The Museum of Extraordinary Things, seamlessly weaves history with thrilling fiction, adding an element of folklore to this moving story of tenacity, courage, and faith. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves