Neshama’s Choices for October 23rd

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Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena  

It’s a nice, safe suburban environment filled with attractive, affluent folks.  But there’s William, an esteemed surgeon, who’s having an affair with neighbor Nora, a volunteer at his hospital.  She’s ready to end it because she worries about family ruptures if it’s discovered.  When his daughter Avery disappears, her fears come true. The subsequent investigation pokes into every corner and it turns out all parties, including the other spouses and siblings, have something to hide. Avery, 9, is “oppositional”—a difficult kid. In this psychological thriller, suspicions shift constantly, and the denouement is surprising and chilling.   


Excavations by Kate Myers   

Imperious Charles has been overseeing this archeological dig in Greece for years. Site of Olympic games of yore, which supports his persona as an expert on all things sports including his bestselling book, Naked Running. Each summer a clutch of eager undergraduates arrives to work, overseen by Elise, Kara, and Z. From some tantalizing clues, these three have developed a theory that the first Olympics were started by women. Charles has appointed Patty, a naive Midwestern student, as a spy to find out who’s plotting behind his back, but when she bungles a task he’s given her, his own misdeeds come to light. Broad satire, lots of action. 


Between Two Moons by Risha Angel Gawao   

In Brooklyn, Amira and Lina, teenage twins, try to juggle the rituals of Ramadan with the temptations that lie in wait during this summer right after high school. Another complication: their older brother is home, just released from prison. He’s shut down and mysterious. Has he gotten mixed up with extremists? Lina gets into sex and drugs. Amira is both intrigued by and suspicious of Faraj, an apparently devout young man who seems to be present everywhere she turns. In their tight-knit neighborhood, the desecration of their mosque ramps up tensions. A fascinating look into the strictures of faith and family ties through the eyes of young people.  


Games and Rituals by Katherine Heiny   

Short stories full of wit and sharp observation.  In one, Colette, a driving examiner, reaches out to arrange transportation so a desperate teenager who fails her test can get a timely abortion. In another, Charlie is roped into helping her ex and his wife pack up to move; he’s just had a knee replacement, so she ends up schlepping out boxes in the teeth of winter while they sit inside wrapping baubles. There’s a wicked story about a hideous bridesmaid’s dress and another which is a contemporary take on King Midas; his mistress Tessa seems to shed gold light all around her but after he spies her with someone else, everything in his life turns lifeless as stone. A delightful mix of play and resentment swirls through this fine collection.