Youth is Wasted on the Young

How timely to follow Kaite’s discussion of three new titles with my fall selections for our crime fiction discussion.  Every year I try to find books that fit a theme.  Because we enroll for an entire year (through our Park and Recreation Department), we set a calendar thru next May and here it is:


September 23, 2010: Donna Tartt. The Secret History. Richard Papen has migrated from his blue-collar California home to the lush confines of Hampden College in Vermont. Joining a clique of students who spend their day quoting the Greeks, Richard is indoctrinated into their ritual of alcohol and pills. Then one night his new friends reveal that they killed a man.

October 28, 2010: Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones. Susie Salmon is the victim of a serial killer watching the consequences of her death from heaven. She sees her family cope with her death but eventually suffer the consequences of losing a loved one. This novel was a British Book Award and Bram Stoker Award winner.

November 18, 2010: Alan Bradley. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Its 1950 and eleven-year-old amateur chemist Flavia de Luce experiences death for the first time when a man dies in the cucumber patch of Buckshaw mansion.  When her single parent father is accused of the murder, she goes into action, using her scientific interests to begin to accumulate clues. 

January 27, 2011: Nancy Pickard. The Scent of Rain and Lightning. Twenty six years ago, Billy Crosby murdered Hugh Jay Linder while his wife Laurie Linder disappeared presumably dead. Billy went to prison for his crimes. His son, Collin Crosby, now a lawyer, has managed to get his father released from prison for a new trial. Although the Linder’s twenty-five year old daughter Jody has lived in the same town with Collin all these years, they have been experts at avoidance. Now they will have to confront the ghosts of the past. 

February 24, 2011: Tana French. In the Woods. When Rob Ryan was young boy, he was found in association with the murder of two young girls. Now it is twenty years later and Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox pull a case that is eerily similar to the secret from Rob’s past. Set in Dublin, this novel earned the Edgar Award winner for best first novel.

March 24, 2011: Judith Guest. The Tarnished Eye. County Sheriff Hugh DeWitt discovers the corpses of the six brutally murdered members of the Norbois family, a rich contingent of summer vacationers who had been visiting his small Northern Michigan town of Blessed. Already reeling from the crib death of his own son and some recent rape murders of college students, DeWitt finds himself emotionally torn apart by this case. This novel is based on an actual unsolved mystery in Michigan.

April 28, 2011: John Hart. The Last Child. Johnny Merrimon and his twin sister Alyssa live in a small rural North Carolina town. One day Alyssa disappears on a walk home from the library and her brother goes on a quest to discover why. While his parents separate and the detective Clive Hunt flounders, a second girl disappears. The clues that Johnny has acquire will now put his own life in danger.

May 26, 2011: John Harwood. The Ghost Writer. On the southern coast of Australia, Gerard Freeman grows up in a setting not unlike a Gothic novel, controlled by his odd mother Phyllis. His only joy in life is his pen pal Alice Jessel in England, the very country from which his mother has escaped. What is it in his mother’s past that makes his life so miserable today? Maybe the short stories of his grandmother Viola will hold some clues.



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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