Baker, Mishell. Borderline.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

I’ve been a heavy reader of all sorts of science fiction all my life but I’m much pickier about fantasy. Tolkien, for instance, doesn’t do a thing for me. I do like a lot of “urban fantasy” though, and Baker, whose first novel this is, is a welcome new addition to that sub-genre. Here she tells the story of Millicent Roper, who is barely getting along a year after a badly failed attempt at suicide when she was a film student at UCLA. Millie went off a seven-story building and survived (unintentionally) by crashing through a tree, but the fall cost her all of one leg and half the other one, and now she has to deal with prosthetics and a cane and a wheelchair. On top of the that, she has Borderline Personality Disorder, and some days she can barely hang on. And she’s in a private therapeutic facility but the money’s running out.

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French, Tana. Broken Harbor.

NY: Viking, 2012.

This is the fourth volume in French’s “Dublin Murder Squad” series and I’ve been hooked since the first one. She has an interesting method, too: As you start each book, you discover that the protagonist in the new one was a minor or supporting character in the previous one. The person you thought was just a spear-carrier for the narrator to interact with turns out to be far more complex and very interesting in his (or her) own right.

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Mina, Denise. Garnethill.

NY: Little, Brown, 1998.

I’ve heard good things about this author for a decade but somehow hadn’t gotten around to reading any of her books. This debut novel, however, will have me lining up all her more recent work. Actually, I picked it up in part because all the Scots authors I’ve read — people like Rankin and McCall Smith — are staunch Edinburghers and those people have their own very particular view of what they believe goes on in Glasgow. I decided it was time to get the Glaswegian take on things.

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Murakami, Haruki. Norwegian Wood.

NY: Random House, 2000.

It’s 1989 and thirty-seven-year-old Toru Watanabe has just flown into Hamburg when he hears the Beatles song of the title coming over the 747’s sound system. And he’s instantly back in Tokyo in 1969, a college freshman facing his twentieth birthday. Toru is something of an intellectual — he read Balzac and Mann and Updike in high school, though his favorite author seems to be Scott Fitzgerald — but he thinks of himself as something of a slacker.

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