Tuesday, June 27, 2006


At a small family run museum outside of London, a grisly murder is committed, one that appears to be a copycat. When Dr. Neville is burned to death in his vintage Jag, his brother and sister co-operate with the police to try to figure out who could possibly wish their psychologist brother any harm. With a dash of romance on the side between the poet-cum-detective and a literature professor at Cambridge, this mystery is a satisfying romp.

RACE AGAINST TIME by Stephen Lewis (2005)

Delivered as the Massey lectures this past fall, Stephen Lewis contemplates the fate of Africa as the first world stands idly by. The opening lecture, "It Shames and Diminishes Us All," will convince you that 0.7 is potentially the most powerful number. Period. If the G8 countries actually delivered on their promise of 0.7 of the GDP, and forgave existing debts in sub-Saharan Africa, then those devastatingly poor countries might have a chance to rebuild.

Lewis's honesty and integrity and passion about the dire circumstances of women and children suffering the HIV/AIDS pandemic will make you want to raise a call to arms.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Prolific novelist Philip Roth blurs fact and fiction in this remarkable novel which supposes what might have happened had Anti-Semitic, world-famous aviator Charles Lindberg been elected President of the USA, sending FDR to defeat in the years surrounding WWII. The narrator is eight-year-old Philip who grows up in New York City, proud of his Jewish cultural heritage and then conflicted when his older brother Sandy appears to support the charismatic new leader. This novel is brave and terrifying in equal measure.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

BABES IN THE WOODS by Ruth Rendell (2003)

Two teenaged children and their adult minder go missing during a storm while their parents are away for an extended weekend in Paris. Their mother believes they've drowned in the floodwater and when a t-shirt that unmistakably belongs to her daughter is found by the police, she is convinced of foul play. The detective on the case has his awareness heightened by the fact that his adult daughter is trying to extricate herself from an abusive relationship.

When the police learn that the son belonged to a fundamentalist Christian sect, everyone seems suspicious. Even the children's famous photographer grandmother.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE by Wally Lamb (1998)

Keith Cressy told me this book resonated with him more than any other that he's read so far. It's a whopper of a novel clocking in at more than 800 pages, but every page is worth your time. Really.

Thomas and Dominick Birdsey are identical twins who are raised in an abusive environment. Like all families theirs is rife with secrets. After their first year at university, Thomas experiences his first psychotic episode and after several misdiagnoses is properly diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE will tear at your heart in so many ways as you get to know quite intimately the emotional burdens of each of the characters. It is not an easy read, but it is well worth your effort. I'm adding it to my personal pantheon of favourite books.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Ian Rankin is a mystery writer at the top of his game. In MORTAL CAUSES, Inspector John Rebus is seconded to a special unit to investigate a ghastly execution that happened in Mary King's Close in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival. Those of you who know the streets of Edinburgh will find the geography compellingly familiar as well as creepy.

It turns out that the first victim is the son of a gangster who is doing time and, of course, is stoked by revenge once he hears of his only son's gruesome death. As in Renaissance revenge tragedy, the bodies pile up before the good guys figure out whodunnit.