Blake, Sara. The Postmistress ($26)
Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible weight...
It is 1940. France has fallen. Bombs are dropping on London. And President Roosevelt is promising he won't send our boys to fight in "foreign wars."
But American radio gal Frankie Bard, the first woman to report from the Blitz in London, wants nothing more than to bring the war home. Frankie's radio dispatches crackle across the Atlantic ocean, imploring listeners to pay attention--as the Nazis bomb London nightly, and Jewish refugees stream across Europe. Frankie is convinced that if she can just get the right story, it will wake Americans to action and they will join the fight.
Meanwhile, in Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James hears Frankie's broadcasts and knows that it is only a matter of time before the war arrives on Franklin's shores. In charge of the town's mail, Iris believes that her job is to deliver and keep people's secrets, passing along the news that letters carry. And one secret she keeps are her feelings for Harry Vale, the town mechanic, who inspects the ocean daily, searching in vain for German U-boats he is certain will come. Two single people in midlife, Iris and Harry long ago gave up hope of ever being in love, yet they find themselves unexpectedly drawn toward each other.
Listening to Frankie as well are Will and Emma Fitch, the town's doctor and his new wife, both trying to escape a fragile childhood and forge a brighter future. When Will follow's Frankie's siren call into the war, Emma's worst fears are realized. Promising to return in six months, Will goes to London to offer his help, and the lives of the three women entwine.
Alternating between an America still cocooned in its inability to grasp the danger at hand and a Europe being torn apart by war, The Postmistress gives us two women who find themselves unable to deliver the news, and a third woman desperately waiting for news yet afraid to hear it.
Sarah Blake's The Postmistress shows how we bear the fact that war goes on around us while ordinary lives continue. Filled with stunning parallels to today, it is a remarkable novel.
Knopf, Chris. Short Squeeze ($27)
The outside world thinks living in the Hamptons requires a Bentley, a face-lift, and a shingle-style home the size of Buckingham Palace. The truth is a lot more complicated than that. Dig a little deeper and you're as likely to find a saint--or a Mensa genius--as you are a deviant or certified nut job lurking right below the surface.
I know this because these are my beloved clients.
Meet Jackie Swaitowski, a smart-aleck attorney whose legal turf is supposed to be the buzzing Hamptons real-estate market. But when a new client turns up dead, things take a sudden and decidedly dangerous turn. In a client's pocket is an envelope that contains a shocking piece of evidence that suggests that the death was anything but an accident.
Jackie has bigger fish to fry--like her old flame Harry's surprise return to town--until a late-night car chase changes her priorities. Now she has every reason to believe that the next name on the killer's list is her own.
Chris Knopf has been praised for his quick-witted writing and broad knowledge of the highs and lows of Hamptons life, and his books have been included on best-of-the-year lists complied by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and others. Now, in Short Squeeze, he brings an irresistible new heroine to center stage.
Mankell, Henning. The Man from Beijing ($26) us
One cold January day the police are called to a sleepy little hamlet in the north of Sweden where they discover a savagely murdered man lying in the snow. As they begin their investigation they notice that the village seems eerily quiet and deserted. Going from house to house, looking for witnesses, they uncover a crime unprecedented in Swedish history. When Judge Birgitta Roslin reads about the massacre, she realises that she has a family connection to one of the couples involved and decides to investigate. A nineteenth-century diary and a red silk ribbon found in the forest nearby are the only clues. What Birgitta eventually uncovers leads her into an international web of corruption and a story of vengeance that stretches back over a hundred years, linking China and the USA of the 1860s with modern-day Beijing, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and coming to a shocking climax in London's Chinatown. "The Man from Beijing" is both a gripping and perceptive political thriller and a compelling detective story. It shows Henning Mankell at the height of his powers, handling a broad historical canvas and pressing international issues with his exceptional gifts for insight and chilling suspense.