Indriðason, Arnaldur. Reykjavik Nights.

NY: St. Martin, 2015.

I’ve read several of this author’s novels about homicide detective Erlendur Sveinsson of the Reykjavik CID, and they’re pretty good — in a rather dour, classically Scandinavian way. But this is the first one in a new sub-series about Erlendur’s early career, set in 1974, when Iceland celebrated the 1,100th anniversary of its first settlement. He’s a young cop in uniform, mostly handling traffic incidents, driving a police van around town on call on the night shift.


Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me.

NY: Little, Brown, 2014.

Smith has become one of my favorite authors of Young Adult novels. She writes unabashed, deeply affecting romances and she does it very, very well. Lucy is sixteen and has lived all her life on the twenty-fourth floor of a very nice New York apartment building. Owen is seventeen, the son of the building’s new super, and he lives in a dark flat in the basement. It’s the first of September, the day before the school year starts, and Lucy’s parents have left her alone — again — while they go off to Paris.


Moriarty, Liane. The Husband’s Secret.

NY: Putnam, 2013.

I recently read Moriarty’s best-selling Big Little Lies and was very impressed with the way it just sucks the reader in so completely, so I began tracking down her other books. This one is equally hypnotic in its deeply involving plot and multifaceted characters, and once you’re a couple chapters in you won’t want to stop until you finish.


Sloan, Robin. Sourdough, or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market.

NY: MCD Books, 2017.

The short and sweet of it is, this is a really lovely book. If you’ve read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (and you should have by now), you are already aware of the high quality of storytelling of which Sloan is capable and the originality and sheer beauty of the prose with which he delivers it. This book is chockfull of such writing. In Mr. Penumbra, he explored the intersection between the worlds of very old books and very new tech. This time, it’s innovative tech meets innovative foodways.


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Benway, Robin. Emmy & Oliver.

NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

Emmy and Oliver were not only friends and next-door neighbors in their small Southern California town, they were born on the same day in the same hospital, and their mothers became best friends. And they spent most of their time together, until early in Second Grade, when Oliver’s father — recently divorced from his mother — kidnapped him from school and disappeared. That was ten years ago and the impact on only-child Emmy was considerable.


Ellis, J. R. The Body in the Dales.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2018.

It’s always nice to discover a new author of detective novels, and this is the first in a new series — set, like several other such series, in the wild countryside of Yorkshire. Though it’s not as wild in the Digital Age as it used to be, when DCI Jim Oldroyd was a lad. He was educated at Oxford but he’s still a Yorkshireman through and through. His new Detective Sergeant, Andy Carter, however, has just arrived from London and the Met, and he’s finding that his Italian shoes don’t do well in the sheep pastures. But Oldroyd thinks he’s going to work out just fine anyway.


Four Young Adult Novels by Natasha Friend.

Young Adult novels are more difficult to write than you might think. The readers for which they are intended are simply different from those who are older, and who have more life-experience. Younger readers don’t really know what to expect from the future, but at the same time, being more idealistic and naïve, they tend to expect more out of life than their parents do. So it’s hard to find a YA author who really can speak their language — by which I mean not the ever-evolving slang, but rather the topics that most closely concern them. Natasha Friend, I have recently discovered, is one of those authors.


Rankin, Ian. In a House of Lies.

NY: Little Brown, 2018.

Rankin’s detective novels featuring DI John Rebus of the Edinburgh CID are consistently well-written and entertaining and there are now about two dozen in the series. Rebus actually has been retired for a few years now, but he’s still a detective by his very nature, despite age and emphysema, and he keeps up with what’s happening in that side of his city that the tourists never see. And he never forgets anything.


Hirsh, Ananth & Yujo Ota. Lucky Penny.

Portland, OR: Oni Pressm 2016.

This graphic novel is very much in the old style, and very funny, too. Penny Brighton is in her early twenties, single, and a walking disaster area. She’s convinced she’s bad luck for everyone around her, and she may be right. She gets fired from her department store job the same day she loses her apartment.