Blog Post for 3rd week in Feb
This installment: another great Scandinavian mystery, a novel about rose growing (and much more), and a novel with an environmental theme set in Colorado.
The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg
Summer reading keeps taking me to chilly places. Here author Erika finds disturbing mementos from her dead mother that somehow relate to events that took place during WWII. Two current murders may connect with this material but the secret behind them is very well hidden. Erika's policeman husband Patrick is supposedly taking care of their toddler so she can write, but he can't stay away from the station. Racism rears its head again in Sweden. The vain, bumbling chief of the precinct, Mellberg, finds himself with a dog and then a hot salsa teacher, both of whom work wonders on him. I love Lackberg's domestic details, characterizations (the same cast appear in many of her books and they're now like family to me), and psychological acumen.
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
Gal, short for Galilee, is a prickly, uncompromising, but deeply compromised character. Lifelong kidney disease has stunted and sapped her, but intelligence, orneriness, and fierce will keep her going. She teaches biological science at a Catholic high school and grows roses with a passion. She's waiting for a transplant, having run through two others but now running out of hope. Into her life drops Riley, her 15-year-old niece. Riley’s mother, Becky ( Gal's sister) is off to Asia on a job. What a difficult, challenging relationship it proves to be, but also transformative. We learn a lot about rose-growing as well---and what a fussy, demanding, peculiar enterprise that also proves to be. The book is satisfying, moving and nuanced.
The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb
Colorado setting, beautiful but environmentally messed up. Doomed? There's drought and a killing flu so people are often masked in public. Ruby's a single mother at 17. Her father, Lord God, is fierce and sometimes crazed but staunch in his love for his toddler granddaughter, Lily. Though he's a "polyg," he has only one wife, Juliet, now fled to town. Lord God wants to marry Ruby off to Hiram, prosperous pawn shop owner and all-around operator, it turns out. She says no. Meanwhile Wade, an ornithologist, hires Lily to help him count the diminishing bird population. All sorts of mayhem with cattle and petroleum rustling ensues and there's a colorful cast of neer do- wells and Indians. The discipline and economy in the writing weaves all this together and celebrates the beauty as well the ruin of the region and its denizens.
Back next Monday.