Neshama’s Choices for December 11th

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The Farewell Tour by Stephanie Clifford    

Lillian Waters started out as Lena Thorsall in Walla Walla, Washington in the early 30’s. Farm foreclosed, a very traumatic childhood, but music was her out.  We shuttle between eras as Lillian embarks on said tour before her voice gives out permanently and meets a rich cast of characters including some actual country stars. She’ll do just about anything to survive and has a heyday mid-career, but alcoholism and deep fears derail her after a disastrous concert in Memphis. I learned a lot about song creation, the country music scene through the ages, and racism in the West in the course of this lively, moving novel.  

The Art Thief by Michael Finkel  

Subtitled A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession. A young man, Stephane, embarks on a 10-year spree of stealing beautiful artworks for his own pleasure, starting in 1994. I’ve never encountered an addiction of such magnitude, and Stephane’s brazen exploits often kept me breathless with suspense. He and his fiancée lived with his mother in France; she’d never been up in the attic where the magnificent, often priceless paintings, sculptures, and tapestries had been piling up. Of course, he eventually gets caught and tries going straight but the addiction wins out. Mesmerizing.   

Blue Skies by T. C. Boyle    

Oh, those ironic titles. Here’s Cli-Fi for you (a burgeoning genre—found the word in this book). Florida is constantly flooding and  California is parched. A cat in Florida wants something special in her life and settles on a big pet snake. Later on when she gives birth to twins…well, I could see where this was going. The rest of her family in California is trying to do right ecologically but it’s hopeless.  Her brother studies bugs fanatically. Boyle tackles this grim subject with wit and panache.  

An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo  

In Amish country, secrets stay within the tight community, which makes Kate’s job as police chief especially challenging.  But she knows the territory intimately, having grown up in the sect but broken away. A well-respected young man is shot with a crossbow. As she digs into the case, dark happenings emerge. I’ve enjoyed Castillo’s previous mysteries featuring Kate and this one is equally satisfying.