Great Reads

Toyne, Simon. Sanctus

A cassocked monk stands on a mountaintop. Arms outstretched, he forms a tau, the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. Having escaped from within a cloistered Vatican-like chuch city compound called the Citadel, carved out of a mountain near the fictional Turkish city of Ruin, the escaped monk attracts media attention as he deliberately throws himself off the mountain. Brother Samuel, the escaped monk, knew a secret…a secret the monks of the Citadel have been protecting for thousands of years.

Now Liv Adamsen, an American journalist, learns that her phone number, carved into a small leather strap, has been found inside Samuel's stomach.  It turns out Brother Samuel was her long-missing and presumed dead twin brother. When she travels to Turkey to claim his remains, she finds herself the focus of three separate groups...the monks of the Citadel, who wish to cleanse the outside world of any hint of their secret; members of an equally ancient group known as the Mala, who believe Liv and her brother are the ones prophesied to break the Citadel's reign; and the police, who simply want to solve the strange mystery of her brother's very public suicide.  Enmeshed in intrigue, it isn’t long before she discovers that the monks of the Citadel will go to any length to protect their mysterious secret, known as the Sacrament, from the world...and the Mala will go to any lengths to expose that secret.

Though it draws the inevitable comparisons to Dan Brown, “Sanctus” is nevertheless a well-developed, entirely unique, and exciting debut with well-rounded characters and a plot that remains grounded despite the potential for hyperbole.  I couldn't put it down!

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King, David. Death in the City of Light

Sure to draw comparisons to Erik Larson’s masterful true-crime epic, “Devil in the White City,” King’s “Death in the City of Light” unfolds the true story of a serial killer who stalked the streets of Paris during its occupation by the Nazi regime.  A strange burning smell first alerted citizens that not all was right.  When concerned firefighters entered the building from which the smell seemed to be emanating, they were appalled to discover severed body parts burning in a large furnace.  Commisaire Georges-Victor Massu, the head of the Parisian Brigade Criminelle, was tasked by the Gestapo with bringing the murderer to justice.  The main suspect quickly became Dr. Marcel Petiot, the owner of the building and, by current accounts, a reputable man. He was known as the “Peoples’ Doctor,” with a reputation for kindness and generosity and for providing free medical care to the poor.  But when the police began digging into Petiot's background, a very different picture of the man emerged.

Petiot was soon charged with 27 murders…though authorities believed the true number of dead to be closer to 150.  But who was being killed, and why?  What Massu eventually unraveled was a plan of such deviousness and evil that it was shocking.  When Petiot was charged, the city and the police hoped for answers and closure. What they got was a circus as the trial—for all of the cases simultaneously—stumbled over Petiot’s charm and wit and the effective and aggressive defense of his lawyer. 

Gripping and detailed.

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Just a Thought -- Coming Soon

A lot of popular authors have books coming out this fall and winter! If you want to get a head-start on writing up your "to-read" lists, look no further!


Coming in November:

Evanovich, Janet.  Explosive Eighteen

Grafton, Sue.  V is for Vengeance

King, Stephen.  11/22/63

Patterson, James. Kill Alex Cross

Sanderson, Brandon.  The Alloy of Law


Coming in December:

Connelly, Michael.  The Drop

Cornwell, Patricia.  Red Mist

Koontz, Dean. 77 Shadow Street

McCall Smith, Alexander.  The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

Woods, Stuart.  D.C. Dead


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Adiga, Aravind. Last Man in Tower

At Vishram Society Tower A, an aging apartment building in the slums of Mumbai, some news has shaken up the usually respectable middle-class residents. An offer has been made by Dharmen Shah, an ambitious developer who wants to tear down the tower and build luxury condominiums worthy of the "new" India. The temptation of money quickly convinces the younger residents of Tower B to leave their apartments, but Tower A remains stubborn. They are more complicated, and Mr. Shah must negotiate with them one-at-a-time, shamelessly using their long forgotten dreams and weaknesses to his advantage. One-by-one they give in until only Mr. Masterji is left, a retired teacher and widower-impervious to bribes, Shah’s intimidation tactics and even pressure from the other residents.

The suspenseful showdown between Mr. Shah and Mr. Masterji is not just about the apartment, it is about old vs. new India, the changing class system and maintaining respectability in an increasingly greedy society. Adiga introduces the strengths and flaws of both men, complicating the readers’ alliances and sympathies. Will Mr. Masterji crumble under the overwhelming efforts of Mr. Shah to destroy his home? Or will this battle prove that money is not always power? This book is sure to be another gem from Adiga, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his book, The White Tiger.

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Torres, Justin. We the Animals

Written in a series of short stories and vignettes, We the Animals is not what you would expect from a coming-of-age story. It delves deeply into the lives of a family continually balancing on the edge. Set in an unknown town in upstate New York, the unnamed seven year-old narrator and his two older brothers, Joel and Manny, experience a freedom foreign to most children their age, roaming the streets day and night while their mother works the graveyard shift and their father disappears for days at a time. What the boys fail to see is the dark reality of their situation; that their freedom is really neglect, their mother’s deep love for her children is also a form of her desperation, and their parent’s relationship, while passionate, is also volatile and dangerous.

Through glimpses we see the boys experience seemingly traumatic events: learning to swim by being abandoned in deep water, watching their father dig a grave in the backyard for no one in particular, packing up and leaving with their mother only to return after not knowing where to go, and understanding them as nothing extraordinary, as every-day life. As the boys grow they come to learn what it means to be an adult. While the narrator’s older brothers fall into their family’s vicious cycle of failure, aggression and indifference, he is desperate to separate himself from them, but at what price?

Even though the novel is slim, it packs an emotional punch. If you’re a fan of poetry, you will appreciate how Torres structures his novel and delicately navigates the story with a sensitivity that will stay with you long after you have finished it.