L. A. Requiem by Robert Crais

L. A. Requiem by Robert Crais (1999)
If you like a book that has flashback info about things that happened before the time of this story, you'll like this book for that detail. If you do not like flashbacks interrupting the story you're reading, you won't like this book.

I enjoyed this book, which is the first by Robert Crais that I've read. Therefore, I wasn't familiar with Elvis Cole and I think Crais' readers of previous books will be happy to learn about Joe Pike through the flashbacks to know his history growing up and working at LAPD. I liked all the characters in this story regardless of their habits because the author has given each character a reason to like him/her. It was an enjoyable read and a page turner of suspense. If you've been to LA and Palm Springs area, you'll relate to the places where the action takes place.

Preview the book before you visit the library and visit the author's website.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (2009)
Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, has written another compelling, good read. This time it's about two beautiful, wealthy sisters, Pearl and May, who are forced into arranged marriages with two unknown American men when the bottom falls out of their father's lucrative business just as Japan invades China. Tragedy after tragedy befall them in China and in America. Their sisterly bond remains intact as they work to survive what happens. It's a page turner, but be forewarned: the ending cries “sequel to come.”

Check out the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell (2004)
If you liked The Da Vinci Code, this book is for you. Codes, secret meanings, and literary puzzles are what I liked best about this book. It doesn’t have as much action as The Da Vinci Code; instead it focuses more on the relationship of four college friends who are trying to solve an ancient mystery.

Read an interview with the author, view an excerpt from the book, check out the reviews at Amazon.com and the reading group guide at BookBrowse.

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart (2010)
Wyatt Hunt’s detective agency is in a slump. Just as he’s considering closing the doors, his only employee Mickey Dade stumbles across the body of Dominic Como, the head of a network of social service agencies with a $50 million budget.

Mickey envisions a scenario where Hunt’s agency would act as a clearinghouse for tips to be filtered to the police, partly to prove the innocence of Alicia Thorpe, the sister of his culinary school friend. As the investigation moves forward, the sinister side of philanthropy produces several motives and suspects, as does the romantic entanglements and resulting jealousies.

Mickey’s sister and grandfather join Dade and Hunt in their search for the killer and each struggles to figure out who they can believe. The police have one theory, Dade has another and Hunt wonders whether other recent events have skewed his ability to trust. The tension thickens as more killings occur and people close to the investigation disappear.

If you enjoy Treasure Hunt, try On this Rockne by Ralph M. McInerny.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (2003)
Rachel is a young Hawaiian girl living an idyllic life in 1890s Honolulu. When a small red patch appears on her thigh and then her foot, her mother tries to hide them. But when word gets out that Rachel has leprosy, the six year old is forcibly removed from her family and eventually sent to the leper colony on Moloka'i.

Rachel spends the next fifty years of her life in the isolated colony. She makes and loses friend, marries, and even has a baby that, after the first moments of her birth, Rachel is not allowed to touch.

Brennert tells this very poignant story in a simple straightforward way that makes you feel the triumphs and pain of Rachel and the other inhabitants of the colony without manipulating and overtly playing on your emotions.

Join us for a book discussion on Wednesday, May 12 at 7:30.

The Green by Troon McAllister

The Green by Troon McAllister (1999)
Calling all golfers who will enjoy reading about the Ryder Cup! The author has written a humorous novel. Readers will recognize some of the PGA personalities in the book by traits that real PGA golfers on the tour possess. The novel includes golf tips as well as inside information about professional golf versus amateur golf.

This book could be made into a movie, but the people who should play the characters are deceased. In a movie of The Green, Jackie Gleason should play Eddie and Paul Newman could be Alan! The hustle of golf in this book can be compared to the game of pool!

Learn more about author and his books. Like golf? Check out our list of Fairway Fiction for more books on the topic.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (2003)
I couldn’t put down this eerie and unsettling fast-paced psychological thriller by the author of Mystic River. Two U.S. marshals are sent to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane on a small island off Massachusetts in the summer of 1954 to investigate the disappearance of a patient. They must relinquish their guns and have trouble getting cooperation from the staff, especially the director Dr. Cawley.

Teddy Daniels, the lead marshal, is having a hard time dealing with the death of his wife two years ago. He has an ulterior motive for wanting to be on the island. A hurricane hits the island preventing Teddy and his partner, Chuck Aule, from leaving, but it gives them time to find out what is really going on after the patient mysteriously reappears. What is happening in Unit C? What is real and what is imagined? It will keep you guessing until the end.

Shutter Island has been made into a motion picture (reserve your copy today!) directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Try the Playaway format for a convenient worthwhile audio experience.

Finn by Jon Clinch

Finn by Jon Clinch (2007)
Jon Clinch’s first novel has created a fascinating story based on a minor character from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Huck’s abusive, alcoholic father, Pap, who meets a mysterious, violent end. This is definitely not an easy, breezy novel of life on the Mississippi, but rather a story of damaged souls and complicated relationships. According to Clinch, Huck’s pa was not a nice guy!

I enjoyed the exploration of the backstory to an American classic and think I’ll try Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, which takes a look at the mad woman in Jane Eyre’s attic. I'll let you know how that goes!

Preview the book, read reviews and visit the author's website.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain (2006)
This is an interesting fictional tale about a 16-year-old girl who trusts the wrong person and finds herself in a very dangerous situation. After a horrible tragedy occurs, she must go “underground” and assume a new identity to protect herself.

As the story unfolds, we see how this impacts her life and the lives of those she loves. It kind of grabs you and holds your interest after the first few chapters. You feel as if you really get to know the characters.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (2009)The Financial Lives of the Poets is a recent novel of one man's attempt to save his family from economic disaster, his marriage from ruin, deal with job loss and a father with Alzheimer’s.

It's gutsy to write fiction quite this up-to-the-minute, but Jess Walter has written a very enjoyable novel that is remarkably astute; a comic fable for the current hard times. Watch the author's YouTube video below, read the New York Times review and check out the author's website.

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith (2009)
After losing her husband, La (short for Lavender) goes to live in a small house in the English countryside owned by her in-laws. The time is the late 1930s and when WWII begins, La occupies herself by helping a local farmer with his chickens and leading an amateur orchestra made up of locals and men from the local airbase.

This is a quiet story about a woman who lives a simple life yet touches the lives of many.

Visit the author's website and read a review from the Washington Post.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)
Originally published in 1929, the title was republished in 1991 with a corrected text. One cannot call this a fast read due to the lengthy prose and "Southern English" writing. If a person wants to know about Mississippi classes of society and the prejudices of people, this is the book for you!

The pre-civil war race relations of slavery, the anti-Yankee attitudes and the Southern lifestyle are detailed in the lives of the Compson family. Each family member serves the purpose of telling the story about a wealthy Mississippi family's fall into poverty after the Civil War due to poor choices and fate. This book has literary value over enjoyable reading. People who like Faulkner probably read this book over and over, but I think once is enough.

Discover more about this Nobel Prize author's works, read more about his life, and see what Amazon.com has to say.

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart (1980)
The story of Merlin has been told often. Mary Stewart’s account, however, has Merlin's point of view and his magic. It is full of detail, vivid images and realistic characters in a time far from our own. The Crystal Cave (Book 1) shows Merlin, at age five, living in his grandfather's household with his mother. Merlin helps defeat the High King Vortigern by using his powers to foretell the future. The book continues the story of his young life until the conception of Arthur.

The Hollow Hills (Book 2) picks up with Merlin taking care of Arthur, teaching him and helping him attain the throne by setting the sword Caliburn in the stone. It ends with Merlin in middle age and Arthur as High King. In The Last Enchantment (Book 3), readers learn of Merlin's last years before he disappears from the legend.  Truly memorable books!

Preview the trilogy and read an interview with the author.

Ironweed by William Kennedy

Ironweed by William Kennedy (1983)
In 1938, Francis Phelan returns to Albany to confront his past. He is a heavy drinking, but big hearted bum. He beguiles you with his wit, wisdom, and the sordid story of a runaway past. The author evokes empathy for all his characters.

Visit the author's website, check out the reading group guide, and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (2009)
Before the Great War, a small child ends up on the wharf in Australia. She won't say or doesn't know her name and no adult seems to be responsible for her. The kindly wharf agent takes her home to his childless wife, and there she remains.

Named Nell, and growing up in Australia unaware that she is not the biological daughter of her parents, Nell is a happy young woman until her father feels he must reveal to Nell her origins, or what he knows of them. Many years later Nell, and later her granddaughter, return to England to try to find out Nell's true birth parents and how she came to be on that wharf in Australia. Their only clue a book of illustrated fairy tales packed into the small child's suitcase Nell had with her when she was found.

Read a review at Bookreporter.com and read an excerpt at Google Books.