I had some trouble selecting a new book to read over the weekend, and ended up taking home Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books: the adventures of an accidental prison librarian. But before I could get to it, while putting new books up on my new books display, I came across Laura Lippman’s I’d Know You Anywhere, and got involved in it!
I’d Know You Anywhere is about a woman with a pretty good life: husband, two kids, nice house, generally serene, other than her daughter’s beginning to be a teenager. Then she gets a letter from the man, on death row, who abducted, raped, and held her for six weeks when she was 15. Her life is disrupted by corresponding with him, which she feels powerless to avoid. Years of carefully constructed anonymity are threatened.
It was a fun book. I read it almost straight through; it was gripping and interesting; the characters felt like real people. I found a certain theme of family and motherhood, that’s a little new and different to me in the mystery/thriller genre; this was present in Lisa Scottoline’s Look Again as well. I’m not as excited or sentimental about motherhood as some, so this theme could potentially get a bit tiring for me, but in both of these examples the authors have pulled it off. Barely. I’d Know You Anywhere is fast-paced and realistic and raises some interesting questions about victim’s rights and the death penalty, but remains an easy read (it could be a thinker only if you choose it to be). I was glad to spend my time on it.
Then yesterday I got around to Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books. It’s biographical; he’s telling his own story: former Orthodox Jew, then Harvard student, then underachieving freelance obituary writer, finally turned prison librarian. (Whew.) I haven’t gotten very far in, but I’m walking a tightrope: enjoying his clever writing style while worrying that he’s getting a bit pretentious. There’s not much question that there are some interesting stories here, but so far they’re unrelated anecdotes. Let me say this book shows potential to be fascinating and amusing, or tiresome. Jury’s out.
I’m also housing a big, fat Sharon Kay Penman paperback called When Christ and His Saints Slept, and I enjoyed The Reckoning by the same author so much that I’m excited, and hope not to be disappointed since my expectations are so high! So that’s in the queue. Also, I fly to Belgium in just 3 days for a short vacation and will need ratty paperbacks that I can leave behind on the trip. (Not sure Penman’s qualifies for this job.) There’s always more to read…
Enjoy your holidays and please do let me know what you find!