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Zero Days by Ruth Ware
Jac and her husband Gabe work as pen testers which means they ferret out physical and technological security weaknesses for companies. Gabe handles the latter from home and Jac works onsite; she’s clever, agile, and strong. During a job, Gabe’s Bluetooth transmission cuts out and when Jac finally extricates herself and gets home, she finds him dead. As his spouse, police decide she’s the prime suspect and she realizes she’ll have to use all her skills to exonerate herself and bring about justice. She goes on the lam and it’s a very suspenseful race against all odds. Absolutely riveting.
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
Imelda’s wedding to Dickie is marred by that supposed insect attack but it’s ill-starred from the get-go because her previous lover Frank, Dickie’s brother, was killed in a car crash. The siblings are very different-- Frank is wild, spontaneous, and popular, Dickie staid, dependable, and second-string. He’s also plagued by his homosexual encounters at Trinity College in Dublin. When Dickie comforts Imelda and she falls pregnant, their ensuing marriage is a done deal. But things aren’t good both domestically and financially as Dickie runs down the family car business and becomes obsessed with doomsday prepper activities. Their kids, teenage Cass and 12-year-old PJ, are equally troubled and the whole thing unspools like a Greek tragedy. Set near Dublin with a vein of absurdist wit right under the surface. 600+ pages, an emotional workout, and worth it.
Prom Mom by Laura Lippmann
The book’s title is Amber’s infamous moniker from the time she gave birth to a very premature baby in a hotel room. She spent 8 months in juvie, then fled and remade herself as a gallerist specializing in prisoner art. Meanwhile “Cad Dad” Joe is leading an upstanding life, married to a plastic surgeon who knows the story. Amber returns to town, opens a shop in a run-down mall that Joe is hoping to flip, and of course, they reconnect as “friends.” One more complication: toothsome young Jordan has her eye on Joe, and he can’t resist. All these threads tangle into a big mess, and there’s a shocking denouement. Lippmann has a great sense of place—Philadelphia—and brings her subjects into equally high definition, which delivers a very satisfying reading experience.
Mr. B by Jennifer Homans
Subtitled George Balanchine’s 20th Century. Initially I hesitated sharing this here because I thought it too “special interest.” But I couldn’t stop thinking about it and talking about it so here goes: One of the most amazing books I’ve ever plunged into. And what a plunge: 700 plus pages. And what a figure: brilliant, paradoxical, driven, broken—a bundle of contradictions, triumphs, and reversals. All those women in his life: 5 wives plus. Intellectual, philosophical—referencing Nietzsche et al, mathematical as connected with music, political—fiercely anti-Communist. His quirky domestic life: ironing, cooking, gardening. All those dancers, artists and composers I grew up with, like Stravinsky. (My subtitle: Neshama in the 20th Century.) The primary paradox: his dances were sometime described as mechanical or grotesque, but he saw the body in service to the soul and to me and his legions of fans they soar and contain depths of emotion. His career was protean, like his stints making dances on Broadway for money. He could be brutal, playful, quixotic and silly. A painful end. This book was 10 years in the making, researched in depth (100 pages of footnotes) and the author even studied with Mr B. himself. A tour de force.