Australian mysteries

Australia has long produced some great mystery writers: Peter Temple, writing the Jack Irish series about a lawyer and gambler turned PI, as well as a number of standalone crime novels; Kerry Greenwood’s post-World War I series featuring private detective Phryne Fisher, to name just two. But in just the last year, authors from Down Under have delivered two new excellent mystery series.

The Dry by Jane Harper
Federal Agent Aaron Falk left his tiny hometown of Kiewarra 20 years ago after the suspicious death of a friend. Now he gets word that another friend from that time, Luke, and Luke’s family have all been killed. Luke’s dad sends Aaron a letter that simply says “Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.” And so he returns home to try to figure out what happened, and to try and come to terms with the death of his friend two decades before. This has a great cast of characters, two interesting mysteries split across 20 years, and Harper writes so realistically of the drought-stricken Outback that you can practically feel the hot wind coming off the sheep farms.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
A year ago, Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey pulled over on the side of a rural road to adjust his fishing equipment; a girl at the bus stop nearby went missing at nearly the same time, and was found days later assaulted and left for dead. Ted was accused but not convicted of the crime, released from jail with no job, no family or friends, and no prospects. He fled north, to the steamy, swampy, crocodile-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake. At loose ends, struggling for money, his lawyer connects him with private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself convicted of murder when she was a teenager. Ted and Amanda make uneasy partners, but jump in together on the case of a very successful local author who has gone missing. Fox weaves together an interesting current mystery (is murder-by-crocodile possible?), while also teasing aspects of Amanda and Ted’s pasts in a way that will leave you impatient for the sequel.

~ posted by Andrea G.

#BookBingoNW2018: History — and historical fiction

Still trying to fill that “history” square on your Book Bingo card?  If you are like me, you learn a lot of your history from historical fiction. So the historical details and events that provide such a rich background for these novels had better be accurate!

Following are some of my favorite titles that incorporate meticulously researched history into their compelling stories:

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
This novel features a grim plot (a young woman faces a series of calamities following her father’s death), but I was won over by the fascinating setting of 17th century Persia, and its flourishing community of carpet-weavers.

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Based on the true story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665, this luminous novel explores the intersecting lives of white settlers and Native Americans in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Both beautiful and sad.

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
First in a series of wonderfully atmospheric mysteries set in Ancient Rome featuring “informer” Marcus Didius Falco. Much of the fun comes from the fully-drawn characters, particularly the gruff but humorous Marcus and his wise, insightful wife Helena Justina.

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
This novel comprises two interwoven tales – one set in contemporary London and the other in 17th century London.  The historical part of the story is particularly compelling, featuring a scholarly young woman who – against the norms of the time – is allowed to act as a scribe for a blind rabbi.

The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami Based on true events, this novel vividly imagines the Spanish expedition that landed in (what is now) Florida in 1527. What makes this book especially intriguing is the narrator who is based on the real-life black Moroccan slave who was a member of the expedition.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
This captivating epic begins in the early 1900s and follows 4 generations of a Korean family that struggles against many hardships to make a new life in Japan.

The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
In this sprawling, enchanting saga, a young woman in late 19th century Mexico is proclaimed a saint.  If you like Isabel Allende, you must try Luis Alberto Urrea!

Looking for more historical fiction? Check out these book lists created by Seattle librarians: Historical Fiction and Historical Mysteries.

For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2018 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2018 on social media. Need a Book Bingo card? Print one out here or pick one up at your Library. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

 ~ posted by Paige C.

#BookBingoNW2018: Suggested by a young person

Two teen readers from our Northeast Branch have five books to suggest to you for your “Suggested by a young person” Book Bingo square. In addition to their excellent reviews, they’ve translated each piece into Somali. We hope you enjoy their thoughtful suggestions and their translation as much as we have:

I’ll Give You the SunBook cover: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Author: Jandy Nelson
Hardcover: 371 pages
Age range 14+
Published: September 16, 2014

Believing that nothing breaks family bonds, meet the inseparable twins Noah and Jude who were bonded to each other till tragedy rips them apart. This novel is artistically beautiful and the story is told from the alternating perspective of the twins. Each one of them narrates a different side of the accident that changed their lives. The sibling relationship is portrayed perfectly. The author has beautifully captured the way they spite each other but still protect each other no matter what. Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2018: Suggested by a young person”

#BookBingoNW2018: History

Looking for something to fill in that “history” box on your Summer Book Bingo card?  Fortunately, the days of dry history tomes are, well, history.  There are currently lots of great authors who are writing fascinating nonfiction history books that have the page-turning quality of a good story.

Book cover for Ivory VikingsHere are some of my favorites:

Nancy Marie Brown – Brown has written several intriguing books about medieval Viking history, with an emphasis on the overlooked stories of women.

Vine Deloria Jr. ­– Deloria was a noted Native American historian whose writing and activism helped the American Indian Movement gain momentum in the 1960s and 1970s.  His book Indians of the Pacific Northwest, originally published in 1977 and recently reissued, is still considered a definitive account of Native history in the Northwest.  Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2018: History”

ACT’s Until the Flood: Beyond the Theatre

policACT (A Contemporary Theatre) presents UNTIL THE FLOOD by Dael Orlandersmith from June 8 to July 8, 2018. UNTIL THE FLOOD focuses on the social unrest following the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and films to enhance your experience of the show: ACT’s UNTIL THE FLOOD: Beyond the Theatre  

The names and places, unfortunately, are tragically familiar: Ferguson, Trayvon, Baltimore, Philando, Tamir, Baton Rouge, and Charles Kinseythe list goes on. How can we take it in? What does it mean? How can we comprehend?

Obie Award winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Dael Orlandersmith is bringing her work, UNTIL THE FLOOD, to ACT, with her quest of understanding how we got here and what it signifies. Focusing on Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown, the one-act drama uses eight composite characters from the area to explore issues of race, social unrest, and political power. The characters all are working to find their standpoint with racial matters in our society, but from a personal level, ranging from teenagers to seniors, and from anger to reflection. Continue reading “ACT’s Until the Flood: Beyond the Theatre”