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Deborah's Picks

Book Cover for Murder in Montmartre Black, Cara
Murder in Montmartre

Mystery
Cara Black has maintained the high quality of this wonderful series. The characters are quirky, original, and beautifully written. In this installment, Aimee LeDuc (with a French father and American mother, but Parisian to the core) sets out to clear her oldest friend, who has been accused of murder. She also continues to dig into the mystery of her father's death. Aimee may have lost her boyfriend, while Rene, her partner and best friend, has gained a girlfriend, but where is the relationship between the two of them really going? But the true richness of this series is the experience of Paris. Clearly Black knows the city well. Each of her books is set in one of its innumerable neighborhoods. The writer brings Paris to life; the sights and sounds of its streets, its history, always inseparable from its present and future, and its flavors, fashion, and diverse inhabitants are all vividly described. For those who like mysteries with a noir flavor and stories with a strong sense of place and richly described settings - and especially for those who love Paris, have been there, or want to go - these books are highly recommended. I keep watch for the latest from Cara Black to get my fix of Paris from afar.
Recommended by Deborah, February 2007

 
Donovan, Gerard
Julius Winsome

Fiction
Through a simple story told in sparse and elegant prose, this novel provides a powerful look at humankind and its complex potential for true kindness and harmful destruction. Donovan writes eloquently about Julius Winsome, a man who lives peacefully and contentedly alone in the Northern Maine woods until the outside world, accidentally or not (and is this relevant?), violently intrudes. From the very first page the reader is drawn inexorably into Julius's world, a world of wonder and beauty and then increasing horror, sadness, and desolation. A story of murder, of this man's recent and remote past and acutely evoked present becomes much more: this is a tale of love and loss, solitude and community, communication and isolation, language and understanding, loneliness and fulfillment, peace of mind and the passion of emotions driven beyond control, and of respect for living things and the harm that results from absence of that respect. It is one of those rare books that is hard to put down because the story and the language are completely harmonious; with spare words and without deviation from the central narrative this (dare I say it?) Shakespearean drama draws surely to its irrevocable conclusion.
Recommended by Deborah, January 2007