Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Launch day for two great reads

Today I want to tell you about two very different books that have three things in common:

1. They're both written by pals
2. They hit the bookstores today
3. They're being slobbered over by critics and readers alike

PRECIOUS is the debut novel of Sandra Novack. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like the kind of book that will capture me completely. Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about it:

Novack's lyrical and finely crafted first novel is set in a small, idyllic Pennsylvania town circa 1978 and charts the crumbling of two families. At the center of the novel is the Kisch family, sisters Sissy and Eva and parents Frank and Natalia. Nine-year-old Sissy is introverted and impressionable, while older Eva is having an affair with Peter, her high school English teacher. Her parents' marriage, too, is rapidly deteriorating, and soon Natalia takes off for Italy with her lover, leaving Frank to try to deal with the remnants of their family. A few houses away, 10-year-old Vicki Anderson (whose relationship to Sissy is troubled), has gone missing, leaving her mother, Ginny, panicked and grief-stricken. Unhappiness, it seems, dwells everywhere, though there may be a dash of hard-won hope as Natalia returns home and the Kisches recalibrate. Ginny, meanwhile, fails to receive any good news about her missing daughter. The graceful prose and bleak atmosphere underscore the loneliness of each character. Novack takes the massive distance between friends, husbands and wives, and makes it her home. (Feb.)

PRECIOUS can be found on the new fiction table at your local bookstore. Of course, you can buy it online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Sandy's website at sandranovack.com.

THE SECOND OPINION by Michael Palmer is a medical thriller I was lucky enough to read before it came out. I didn't even know I liked thrillers until I started reading his work. What I discovered is that it's possible to write breathless and gripping plots with characters as layered, complex and fascinating as any you'll find. This book, in particular, grabbed me with its protagonist--a brilliant woman doctor with Asperger's Syndrome. Here's what the reviewer at Booklist had to say about it:

Palmer, a medical-thriller writer who has been producing A-list-quality novels for years, turns in another excellent performance with this story of a physician who uncovers a deadly conspiracy. Dr. Thea Sperelakis’ father is the victim of a hit-and-run; now in a coma, he communicates only with his daughter and only by moving one of his eyes. Slowly, Thea pieces together the truth behind her father’s accident, and behind a series of suspicious deaths, but exposing the villains could mean exposing her to certain death. As usual, the novel is fluidly written—as a stylist, Palmer is head and shoulders above his more famous competitor, Robin Cook—and very suspenseful. Thea, in particular, is a most intriguing character: she has Asperger syndrome, which gives her an obsession with details, a near-encyclopedic memory, and a rather charming awkwardness in social settings. The novel is not merely a thriller but also an exploration of its central character’s unique gifts and her determination to communicate with her comatose father despite overwhelming odds. Another winner from a consistently fine writer.

THE SECOND OPINION can be found just about anywhere. For more information, visit Michael's website at michaelpalmerbooks.com.

No comments: