Wednesday, March 26, 2008

VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon

By Diana Gabaldon
Bantam Dell
ISBN: 9780385335997
Paperback, 870 pages, $15.00
Genre: Historical fiction

The third book in the Outlander series finds time traveler Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser in the twentieth century, making preparations to travel back in time to the eighteenth century to find the love of her life, Highlander James Fraser. Claire has learned from historian Roger Wakefield that Jamie did not die at Culloden, as she has thought for twenty years. Claire is anxious to return to Jamie, though reluctant to leave Brianna, her daughter. Brianna, however, senses her mother’s need to be with her biological father and encourages her to go.

Claire steps through the stones and finds Jamie living in Edinburgh, where he is known in the city as Alexander Malcolm, a printer who prints seditious material, and on the docks as Roy, a smuggler. Claire is relieved to find their love as strong and passionate as ever, but their relationship will be tested in the days ahead, as she finds out that Jamie is now married to the woman who tried to kill Claire twenty years earlier and has two stepchildren. If that isn’t bad enough, Jamie has an illegitimate son.

During a smuggling operation, Jamie’s nephew Ian is kidnapped by pirates and Jamie and Claire begin a grueling journey to find young Ian and return him to Lallybroch. Their travels take them across the ocean to the West Indies, and on to America. Through their trials and tribulations, their love continues to grow, and this time, Claire is determined never to leave Jamie.

Once more Gabaldon provides her readers with a fast-paced, exciting adventure wrapped around one of the best romances written, with plenty of historical information provided regarding the eighteenth century, from the Scottish uprising at Culloden to smuggling operations, voodoo in the West Indies, and best of all, medical treatment of the time.

Christy Tillery French

Monday, March 24, 2008

DEADLY ADVICE by Roberta Isleib

by Roberta Isleib
Berkley Prime Crime/Penguin Group
ISBN: 0425214745
Paperback, 272 pages, $6.99 US
Genre: Mystery

Dr. Rebecca Butterman is a practicing clinical psychologist who also writes a weekly advice column for an online magazine. Divorced and living in a condo in Guilford, Connecticut, Rebecca is distressed to learn her neighbor, Madeline Stanton, apparently committed suicide. Rebecca is unsettled that she had not made efforts to know her neighbor very well, and when Madeline's mother asks her to take care of Madeline's cat until she can find a home for it, Rebecca readily agrees. But when Mrs. Stanton expresses her suspicions about her daughter's death and nudges Rebecca to look for clues as to why her daughter died, Rebecca's wary. Consequently, Rebecca's editor wants her to branch out and begin writing about her experiences in the dating field, but Rebecca is reluctant. However, when she learns that her neighbor had been involved with a speed dating service, she thinks it wouldn't hurt to look into Madeline's death while obtaining information for her column. It isn't long before Rebecca's reeled into the world of fast-paced dating, Internet seduction, murder investigations, and a killer on the loose.

Dr. Rebecca Butterman was first introduced in Isleib's Golf Lover's Mysteries, and fans of that series will enjoy the Advice Column Mysteries series, as well. Butterman is an engaging character, a psychotherapist who is divorced, approaching middle-age and trying to move forward with her life while dealing with past traumas. Her strongest features are her compassion for humans and animals and her inner sense of rightfulness. Deadly Advice is a fast-paced mystery, with red herrings around every corner, and plenty of twists and turns. Recommended.

NO GOOD DEEDS by Laura Lippman

By Laura Lippman
William Morrow/Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780060570729
Hardback, 343 pages, $24.95
Genre: Mystery

In Lippman’s latest installment of the Tess Monaghan series, Tess has taken on a new gig as consultant to the local newspaper, where her job duties are to train reporters in investigative techniques, using three recent cases as paradigms. One of the cases Tess plans to focus on is the murder of a local federal prosecutor. When Tess’s significant other, Crowe, befriends a homeless street kid, Tess inadvertently learns the young man has information about who killed the prosecutor. In an effort to inform the authorities without identifying her source, Tess sets up an interview between the young man and a reporter. Although she promises Crowe she will do everything she can to protect the young man’s identity, federal agents insist she reveal her source. When Tess doesn’t cooperate, they begin to threaten her family and hint at filing felony charges against her. Crowe goes into hiding with the young man, unaware that two federal agents have honed in and are after them, not to bring them in but to kill them.

The Tess Monaghan series remains a constant bestseller in PI series to date. Tess is a strong character, a young woman with an edge. To counterbalance her cynicism is her mate, laidback and amiable Crowe. Lippman excels at characterization, and with No Good Deeds allows the reader a deeper look into Crowe’s persona and background. And, as always, spending time with Tess is a bonus. This must-read moves at a fast pace and has plenty of interesting characters.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

MARKED MAN by William Lashner

By William Lashner
William Morrow/Harper Collins
ISBN: 978006072558
Hardback, 421 pages, $24.95
Genre: Mystery

Philadelphia Attorney Victor Carl wakes up one morning in the vestibule of his apartment building, his suit disheveled, socks missing, and the name Chantal Adair inscribed on his chest. Victor can’t remember what happened the prior night and is on a quest to find out, along with who Chantal Adair is. But his efforts are waylaid by a stubborn Greek woman on her deathbed, demanding he bring her son Charlie Kalakos home in return for a favor Victor’s father owes her. Charlie is wanted by the District Attorney’s Office and the FBI for stealing a Rembrandt painting from a museum. Charlie wants to return home to tell his mother goodbye but Charlie’s partners-in-crime would prefer he stay gone. While negotiating with the authorities as well as considering a shady offer by an art dealer/mercenary named Lavender Hill, Victor hires his own investigator to find Chantal Adair. To his surprise, a young girl with the same name disappeared the night Charlie and his gang stole the Rembrandt. Could the two crimes be connected?

Each outing with self-deprecating Victor Carl is a treat for readers who like a good mystery with wacky characters and a narrative voice that entertains throughout. A flawed man who thinks worse of himself than he actually is, Victor is tempted by fame and money with an internal monitoring system that allows him to step outside the bounds of law, but just barely. Victor, who seems to remain in a self-identity crisis, is joined this time by his partner, Beth Derringer, the moral gauge of their partnership. Lashner’s excellent style offers plenty of humor enmeshed within a good story and characters that just can’t be matched. This series is a hard one to top.


By J.D. Robb
ISBN: 9780425217542
Paperback, 400 pages, $7.99
Genre: Mystery

Lt. Eve Dallas and her partner Detective Delia Peabody are called on-scene to investigate the death of a teacher at one of NYC’s top private schools. Craig Foster was a popular history teacher who died from drinking poisoned cocoa. Since Foster brought the cocoa from home, Dallas and Peabody initially suspect his wife or a family member. But there are no red flags there, so they move on to the parents of Foster’s students or one of his colleagues. They hone in on another teacher, one known for his sexual promiscuousness and who Foster had had words with over his harassment of a school employee. Before they can investigate this man further, his body is discovered in the school’s pool. Dallas and Peabody are baffled but convinced more than ever that someone connected with the school is behind the murders.

For the first time, Eve is having a hard time concentrating on an investigation. A woman from Roarke’s past has entered the picture, and it isn’t long before there’s tension between Eve and Roarke and harsh words spoken. Stoic Eve is startled to find herself so emotionally overwrought by this woman and her efforts to create conflict between Eve and Roarke. But she forces her mind on the investigation and what she discovers shocks even the jaded Lt. Dallas.

Robb’s popular series remains a constant bestseller and it isn’t hard to figure out why, with likeable characters and suspenseful plots. The relationship between Dallas and Roarke is a bonus and is explored in-depth in this book. Robb displays talent for drawing the reader into her characters’ angst and despair at the disruption in their marriage. Eve’s and Roarke’s mutual fright over babies is humorous and adds a light note to an otherwise dark mystery.


J.A. Konrath
ISBN 9781401302795
Hardback, 292 pages, $23.95
Genre: Mystery

Homicide Lieutenant Jack Daniels has plenty on her mind. Her boyfriend just proposed; her partner’s been transferred, at his request, to Robbery; and she finds a letter from her mother telling her that her dad isn’t dead after all. To make matters worse, a psychopath who calls himself the Chemist is going around Chicago poisoning food supplies and people are dropping like flies. Jack’s tagged to lead the task force and ultimately becomes targeted by the Chemist. She manages to survive several attempts on her life, but when her boyfriend is poisoned, things turn personal. The Chemist demands two million dollars in ransom to stop the killings and chooses Jack to deliver the money. Jack would rather shoot the guy and put him out of everyone’s misery, but the mayor and his political officialdom believe that if they pay the ransom, the Chemist will go away. Jack doesn’t stop tracking the Chemist; she thinks he has a bigger scheme in mind and practically stumbles over his next fatal project, one that could possibly kill thousands of people.

Dirty Martini, the fourth in Konrath’s Jack Daniels’ series, is packed with action, suspense, and thrills. Jack Daniels is a die-hard toughie who faces death and injury with stoicism and a cop’s sense of duty to protect others above all else. The Chemist is not only insane but intelligent, which makes for an even creepier yet interesting bad guy. Dialogue, as always, is witty and adds levity to a horrifically realistic plot.

TILT A WHIRL by Chris Grabenstein

By Chris Grabenstein
Carroll & Graf Publishers
ISBN: 9780786715848
Hardback, 321 pages, $23.95
Genre: Mystery

Danny Boyle, part-time cop for the Sea Haven, New Jersey police department, has been partnered for the summer with John Ceepak, former military policeman in Iraq. Danny is bemused by Ceepak, a man of integrity and principles, who lives by what Danny calls the Code, meaning he does not break the law or bend rules in any way. Reginald Hart, a billionaire businessman, is shot at point blank while talking to his daughter on the Turtle Tilt a Whirl in their small town’s amusement park. Since Danny and Ceepak are first on the scene, their police chief designates Ceepak to head the investigation into Hart’s murder. Hart’s ex-wife is quickly ruled out and the investigators are looking in the direction of Latino gang members. But when a homeless drug addict called Squeegee kidnaps Hart’s daughter and demands ransom, they’re hot on his trail.

Tilt a Whirl is the first in a new series by Chris Grabenstein, and if this is any indication of future stories, the series is sure to be a hit. Written in a witty style, with characters that demand inclusion in future books, this twisting, turning mystery will keep the reader thoroughly entertained.

INVISIBLE PREY by John Sandford

By John Sandford
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
New York, NY
ISBN: 978039154218
Hardback, 388 pages, $26.95
Genre: Mystery

Lucas Davenport, special agent for Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is trying to deal with the sensitive investigation of a local politician who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor when his boss calls him in on another case that occurred in one of St. Paul’s richest neighborhoods. Two elderly women have been found bludgeoned to death in a home filled with antiques. Although robbery is the suspected motive, not much has been taken, so Lucas asks his intern, Sandy, to cross-match crimes of a like nature. What she discovers takes Lucas back to a cold case and has him researching the antiquities venue as he follows a twisting investigation that leads him away from the killers.

Although this is not the best in the Prey series, it is a good read. The two plots at times seemed to compete with one another, which made the read seem somewhat convoluted. Sandford is strong with characterization and the addition of Sandy, the intern, was a bonus, along with Detective Flowers, both of whom this reader hopes to see in future books. Sandford’s tendency to drop designer names grows tiring at times (can’t someone just once wear a simple shirt and pants?). One major disappointment for this reader is Davenport’s laid-back mellowness compared to the earlier books, where he was sharper, with a dangerous edge.

THE HARD WAY by Lee Child

By Lee Child
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 97803853366987
Genre: Mystery
Hardback, $25.00, 373 pages

Millionaire/mercenary Edward Lane hires Jack Reacher to find his wife, Kate, and stepdaughter, Jade. Both were kidnapped on a shopping trip and Lane is willing to pay whatever it takes to get them back. Patti Joseph has been surveilling Lane and his group of killers since the kidnapping and subsequent death of her sister, Anne, several years earlier. Anne was Lane’s former wife and Patti suspects he used her kidnapping as a cover-up for her murder. She puts Reacher in touch with former FBI agent, now private investigator Lauren Pauling. Like Patti, Lauren is haunted by the death of Anne Lane, and she and Reacher team up to try to find out what really happened then and now. Their investigation leads them to a civil war in Africa, where Lane abandoned two of his men, both of whom Patti suspects actually killed her sister at Lane’s behest. From there, it turns to England, where Reacher uncovers a brutal truth that places his and Lauren’s lives in mortal danger.

Jack Reacher is one of the coolest characters written. A former Army MP and loner by nature, he travels the world with only the clothes on his back and a toothbrush tucked in his pocket. He seems to drift in and out of people’s lives like a fine mist, leaving behind mayhem at the very least and murder at most, but always justice. Child’s style is gritty and bare-bones and compelling. He finely attunes this thrilling read with action-packed suspense, a workable mix of amiable and malevolent characters, and the ultimate draw: good versus evil. One of the best books yet in the Reacher series. This reader looks forward to many more.

LUCKY YOU by Carl Hiaasen

By Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf
IBSN: 0679454446
Hardback, 353 pages, $24.00
Genre: Humorous Fiction

Grange, Florida is a small, out-of-the-way community known for its religious miracles, from the weeping Madonna to the stigmata man with holes in his palms that do not heal. Not to mention the road stain in the form of Jesus and the woman who visits every day in her wedding dress. And now, one of their own, JoLayne Lucks, has won one-half of the state’s lottery of $28 million. JoLayne works part-time as a veterinarian’s assistant and plans to use her lottery winnings to buy and maintain wooded acreage in danger of being developed into a shopping mall. The other half of the lottery winnings belong to Bode Grazzer, a short man convinced NATO forces are lining up in the Bahamas ready to invade America, and his sidekick Chub, a paint-sniffing wannabe mercenary. Chub and Bode, needing money to begin their own supremacist organization so they can defend the white man when America is invaded, decide to steal the other lottery ticket. They break into JoLayne’s home, beat her up and take off with the ticket. On the way to the lottery office, they recruit a convenience store clerk known for his lack of cognitive abilities and take hostage a Hooters waitress Chub has fallen in love with. To JoLayne’s aid comes Tom Krome, an embittered former investigative reporter now working for a small newspaper covering social events. Tom’s editor sends him to Grange to write a story about the lottery winner, but before he even pulls out his notepad, Tom finds himself in cahoots with JoLayne and hot on the trail of Bode and Chub. All six end up on a small island in Florida Bay, where a confrontation develops over the two lottery tickets and where two will remain behind forever.

Carl Hiaasen is a master at developing wacky characters and zany plots and dialogue that will leave the reader in stitches throughout the entire book. This is a book all readers will enjoy as they follow the madcap antics of these screwball characters.

LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich

By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s Press
New York City, NY
ISBN: 9780312349493
Genre: Mystery

Stephanie’s ex, attorney Dickie Orr, goes missing shortly after Stephanie threatens his life. The only clue to what happened: bloody drag marks leading out of his house. The investigating detective wants to question Stephanie and she has no alibi so is in no hurry to talk. To make matters worse, Stephanie’s archnemesis, Joyce Barnhardt (the woman responsible for Stephanie’s and Dickie’s divorce), is hot on Stephanie’s trail. Joyce is back in a relationship with Dickie and wants the 40 million dollars he embezzled from his firm. Stephanie decides to conduct her own investigation into Dickie’s disappearance which leads to charred bodies and exploding buildings. Ranger steps in to protect Stephanie, which is hard going as she continues her investigation while trying to do her official job as a bounty hunter and track down a taxidermist who makes exploding road-kill and a grave digger who’s turned tax expert.

The usual gang’s around for the latest outing in the Plum series, including Lula and Grandma Mazur. The triangular relationship continues between Stephanie, Joe Morelli, and Ranger, with still no resolution on Stephanie’s part. Evanovich once more produces a laugh-out-loud whodunit wrapped around that delicious tease between Stephanie and the two men in her life.

THE FRUGAL EDITOR by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The Frugal Editor
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Red Engine Press
Branson, MO 97809

As the literary market continues to tighten its proverbial belt, today's writer must assume more of the responsibilities surrounding book publishing than ever before. No longer can a writer depend on a publisher or agent to accept a manuscript in need of editing, and submitting a manuscript that isn't as near perfect as possible will, in all probability, result in rejection. To the rescue comes acclaimed author Carolyn Howard-Johnson with The Frugal Editor, the latest in her How to Do It Frugally series.

This little gem is a must-have for any writer, published or not, bestselling or unknown. Filled with valuable tips, The Frugal Editor touches on all aspects of self-editing, such as how to spot common grammatical errors, from superfluous adverbs to confusing dangling participles, as well as how to organize the workspace, format the manuscript, and use Word's tools to the fullest. Also included are sample query and cover letters, and pointers on correcting intrusive taglines, when to use an ellipsis, and correct spacing, to name a few. The book takes the reader step-by-step through the editing process, from rough draft to galley. No questions are left unanswered, no topics left uncovered. This generous writer goes so far as to recommend resources through other books and websites, with plenty of advice from agents and editors. The Frugal Editor is one of those reference books every writer should have by their computer for constant use and study. Highly recommended.

HOLLYWOOD STATION by Joseph Wambaugh

Hollywood Station
Joseph Wambaugh
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

LAPD's Hollywood Division is not as glamorous as it sounds. Here the prostitutes and transvestites troll for johns while "tweakers" fish envelopes out of mailboxes in search of anything they can use toward the purchase of their next hit of crystal meth and celebrity clones stroll along the Hollywood walk of fame seeking gullible tourists. Since Rodney King, law enforcement officials, from the beat cops to the detectives, must bide by rigid rules and continual scrutiny, from their internal affairs division to Washington DC. But they have the protective eye of their Sergeant on their side, a man they refer to as the Oracle, who has been on the Job for 46 years.

The story centers around a tweaker named Farley Ramsdale and his girlfriend, whom he calls Olive because she resembles Popeye's Olive Oyl. Farley is a small-time crook who thinks he is being smart by making Olive do all the dirty work: fishing envelopes out of mailboxes, trying to pass counterfeit bills in stores, and stealing magnetic cards from hotels which Farley sells to other criminals specializing in identity theft. When Cosmo, an Armenian immigrant and Ilya, his Russian girlfriend, steal diamonds from a jeweler, Farley quickly puts two and two together; Farley is the one who passed on to Cosmo a letter from the jewelry store inventorying the diamonds. When Farley demands a cut of the action, Cosmo decides he and Olive must be eliminated, but from that point on, everything begins to spin out of control.

Wambaugh is a master at characterization and witticisms. His humorous style and observations make this a fun read, with quirky, offbeat characters and plenty of action. What seems at first to be a loose, albeit amusing, telling of the goings on within the Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood Station and the criminals that surround it, comes together at the end to form one heck of a good story. The situations the officers find themselves in are at times laugh-out-loud funny, as are the interactions between the characters. Hollywood Station provides a poignant look into the inner workings and ever-present political wrangling behind the scenes of the LAPD. Highly entertaining; recommended.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier

By Charles Frazier
Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN 0871136791
Hardback, 358 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Even rustic Cold Mountain, NC feels the cold embrace of the Civil War and most of its young men answer the call to fight. Some of the more hardened stay behind and form the Home Guard, which amounts to nothing more than a group of violent men intent on delivering their own brand of justice to those they call outliers, deserters of the war.

This is the story of two people in Cold Mountain who meet, are separated by the war, and meet again, both drastically changed by the hardships they’ve endured. Inman, a Confederate soldier, walks away from the hospital where he’s being treated for a near-fatal wound and begins his long journey to reach Ada, the one woman he hopes can save him from his despair over humanity. Ada Monroe is a socialite whose preacher father took her to the isolated backcountry of Cold Mountain, NC. When Ada’s father dies shortly after the war begins, she finds herself alone and destitute. To her rescue comes Ruby, a homeless young woman who lives her life relying on natural signs. Ruby teaches Ada many life lessons, foremost of which, how to survive on her own.

While working his way back to Ada, Inman encounters every sort of danger imaginable, from men intent on killing him to wild animals. Ada encounters her own hardships, from starvation to hard living. The two work toward one another, physically and mentally, and when they meet have reached the point where their lives can merge into something truly beautiful.

Cold Mountain is a fascinating read; filled with historical and geographical information wrapped around a beautiful love story. Frazier’s style is eloquent, lyrical, and mesmerizing. He uses unique phraseology relative to the time of the story and delivers characters the reader does not soon forget.

BOOK OF THE DEAD by Patricia Cornwell

By Patricia Cornwell
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 978039153938
Hardcover, 405 pages, $26.95
Genre: Mystery

In the 15th installment of the Kay Scarpetta series, Scarpetta has relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where she has opened her own private forensic practice. With her are her niece Lucy and former cop Pete Marino. Kay’s lover, Benton Wesley, is in Boston, working with a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital and psychiatrist Marilyn Self is back, doing her best to wreak more havoc on Scarpetta’s life. This mystery opens with Kay and Wesley called to Rome to consult on the brutal murder of American tennis star Drew Martin. Back home, Kay is having trouble identifying the remains of a small boy, but her investigation into Drew’s death leads her back to this abandoned and neglected child, tied to a murderer the likes of which Scarpetta has never encountered. And all centering around mentally disturbed Self.

Cornwell delivers an interesting read; however, the constant angst of the major players in this book can be disheartening and painful to read. Marino continues his downward spiral and his aggressive and self-destructive actions alienate those close to him. Rose, one of this reader’s favorite characters, is terminally ill, and for some reason doesn’t want Kay to know. Kay and Lucy bicker more than agree, and even though Kay is now engaged to Wesley, they seem more estranged than ever. As with each Scarpetta book, forensics is in the forefront and at times fascinating.

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon

By Diana Gabaldon
Dell Publishing
ISBN: 0385335970
Paperback, 743 pages, $15.00
Genre: Historical fiction

The second installment in the Outlander series is just as much a rollicking adventure as the first, albeit this one is told in flashbacks from time traveler Claire Beauchamp’s memory. The first of the book may be confusing to readers, as the end of Outlander left Claire with Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser in the 1740s, yet the beginning of this book finds Claire in Scotland in 1968, where she has returned with her daughter Brianna, intending to tell Brianna who her true biological father is. Frank, Claire’s present-day husband, is dead and Claire hopes to learn what happened to Jamie some 200 years earlier. She asks historian Roger Wakefield to help with her search and relates to Brianna and Roger her history with Jamie, laird of Lallybroch.

Claire picks up her story when she and Jamie escape to France, where Jamie is to be interpreter for Prince Charles. Aware history shows that the bonnie prince’s failed attempt to reclaim the English throne caused massive devastation to the clans of Scotland at the battle of Culloden, Claire and Jamie are intent on thwarting Prince Charles’ efforts to accumulate the funds necessary to stage such a war. While in Paris, Claire and Jamie enjoy a lifestyle of luxury, but it seems that no matter what they do, they cannot stop the tide of history, and the battle takes place. But beforehand, Jamie is forced to kill his uncle Dougal, who tries to murder Claire. Knowing he must face punishment for killing his chieftain, Jamie tells Claire she must go back to the future, as it is his intent to die on the battlefield of Culloden. Claire goes back, but she takes a part of Jamie with her: his unborn child.

This series is a fascinating read, filled with historical facts, interesting information about medicines from the 18th century, nonstop action and nail-biting suspense. Claire and Jamie’s committed love for one another shines through the book and adds hot spice to a galvanizing read.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

RUN by Ann Patchett

by Ann Patchett
Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780061340635
Hardback, 304 pages, $25.95
Genre: Literary Fiction

This story centers around a small, religious statuette which bears a strong resemblance to Bernadette Doyle. It is tradition in Bernadette’s family that the statue be handed down from mother to daughter, but Bernadette and her husband have one biological son, Sullivan, and two adopted sons, African American brothers, Tip and Teddy, but no daughters, so the ultimate fate of the statue is in question. Bernadette dies from cancer when Tip and Teddy are young and Doyle assumes the responsibility of raising them. It is Doyle’s dream that his sons share his passion for politics and follow him into a career in same. But Tip is a student at Harvard who wants to be an ichthyologist while Teddy is interested in the priesthood. Doyle, however, asks Tip and Teddy to attend a speech by Jesse Jackson with him in hopes of interesting them in politics. Afterward, Tip argues with Doyle and unintentionally steps in front of a car. A black woman saves Tip by pushing him out of the way but is injured and rushed to the hospital. Doyle offers to care for her young daughter, Kenya, while she is recovering. And this one person stepping into their lives forces each of these men to come to terms with the past, each other and themselves.

Ann Patchett’s eloquent prose is exceptional, to be absorbed and savored, as she delves deep into the psyche of her characters and delivers a slowly evolving plot. Although Run does not quite meet the high standards of Patchett’s Bel Canto, it is an intriguing, enjoyable read.