All branches of Marin County Free Library will be closed on Monday, July 4 for Independence Day.

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This installment: a novel featuring hypnotism, a Pakistani expat in London, and another of Lackberg’s wonderful mysteries.

   The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Ellen has a sweet set up: a satisfying practice as a hypnotherapist, a lovely cottage and no money worries due to a behest. But she's lonely after three failed relationships, and finds (perhaps) Mr. Right through the internet. But Patrick comes with serious baggage in the form of his former lover Saskia, a stalker. And before that, a beautiful wife Colleen who died too young. His son Jack is a delight, they all seem very compatible, but the strains take their considerable toll. Fascinating aspects: Ellen's power to affect others through her skill, and the ethical concerns this raises; and a sympathetic treatment of the stalker. I had mixed feelings about Moriarty's previous books, What Alice Forgot--a little too smooth and chick-lit, but this one has considerable depth. Setting: Sydney, which at first seemed like California until I came across little Aussie signifiers and made the shift.

   A Small Fortune by Rosie Dastgir

When we first meet Harris, he seems dapper and settled. We soon learn it's a very flimsy facade for this middle-aged Pakistani expat in London. However funds from his divorce settlement come through and he's faced with a dilemma: which of his many family members, back home or around the corner, should be helped first. He has big dreams of what his largesse might bring, but nothing works out smoothly. In addition his pre-med daughter drops out and takes up with an Englishman, he embarks on courting a widow, and his nephew Rashid gets involved with Muslim fanatics. A fascinating glimpse into cultures in conflict, into making do in impossible situations, and into surprising accommodations. Deft and charming

   The Gallows Bird by Camila Lackberg

It's so comforting to find a series that lets the reader rejoin a familiar world with new twists, and that's what Lackberg delivers. Into this Swedish backwater comes a peculiar accident in which the details don't add up. Luckily detectives follow their gut instincts which lead them to a convoluted trail of similar far flung crimes with no apparent link. Meanwhile a gross reality TV show sets up shop in town, further destabilizing the uneasy status quo. Yes, there are heroes and villains but nuanced with the imperfections of life on life's terms, among them a grotesque romance for one bad actor, and increasingly tense wedding plans for a  good one. Very satisfying.

Back next Monday



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