This is an enchanted time of year when, if you’re lucky, you get to kick back and watch the last of summer float lazily by.
I am lucky in a different way. I spend August powering through advance copies of books, hoping to stay on top of the wave of fall releases. To help you spruce up your “holds” list, here’s a quick roster of books by Seattle-area authors that I’ve either already read, am reading or hope to read. Listed by release date, all these books will be reviewed by The Seattle Times in the coming months.
“The Return” by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt). Seattle resident Gruber is a hard writer to pigeonhole, and readers are the better for it. He writes suspenseful (and at times bloody) thrillers, but he uses the thriller structure on which to hang observations on human nature and philosophy, faith and religion, mortality and justice. His latest tells the story of Richard Marder, a man with unlimited funds and a limited time to live. Marder sets out to avenge the death of his wife, whose family was murdered by Mexican drug lords. Will be reviewed Sept. 1 in The Seattle Times.
“Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford (Ballantine). The Montana-based Ford won many readers’ hearts with his Seattle-set novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” His new novel, set in Depression-era Seattle, tells the story of a Cantonese singer who must make a terrible choice regarding her son, who years later thinks he sees his mother in a movie and begins the quest to find her. Ford will chat with readers live on Seattletimes.com at noon Sept. 10.
“The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century” by David Laskin (Viking). Laskin, an occasional book reviewer for The Seattle Times, has written several award-winning nonfiction books. Having finished “The Family,” I can conclusively opine that he outdoes even himself with this true story. It’s an exploration and excavation of three branches of Laskin’s ancestry: those who emigrated to America, those who helped found Israel and those who perished in the Holocaust. Beautifully written, densely textured and at times heartbreaking.
“Just One Evil Act” by Elizabeth George (Dutton). I am still recovering from George’s killing off a major character in her Inspector Lynley series, but this new installment in the Lynley saga may reel me back in. It focuses on a favorite character, Detective Sargeant Barbara Havers, the mouthy, stubborn working-class sidekick of aristocrat Lynley. Havers travels to Italy in a search for a friend’s kidnapped daughter.
“Hild” by Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). This novel, which I just began, is a major departure for Seattle author Griffith, a science fiction author and essayist. Set in seventh-century Britain, it’s the story of the girl who would become Saint Hilda of Whitby. Griffith is a Yorkshire native, and her descriptions of old Northumbria have plunged me into a long-lost way of life and made me thankful for central heating.
Finally, Ivan Doig’s “Sweet Thunder” has already been published, but I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Morrie Morgan, teacher, editor and troublemaker in 1919 Butte, Montana.
Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW’s “Well Read,” discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to www.tvw.org/shows/well-read for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.