Reviews of the Week: with Martin Walker, Riley Sager, Olivia Levez, and Haruki Murakami

Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and / or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from May 30 through June 2 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.

 

May 30

 The Templars’ Last Secret, by Martin Walker

Walker’s mysteries are like the ideal European vacation: loaded with inspiring sights, good companions, and memorable meals (and there’s murder, too!). Spend time with Bruno, his dog, horses, friends, and farmhouse in the tiny village of St. Denis in the Périgord region of rural France, and you feel as if your own life has been enhanced. The latest Bruno novel, the tenth in the series, serves up the usual heady flavors of mystery and setting but also explores the archaeology of the region, extending back to the famous Lascaux cave paintings.

 

May 31

 Final Girls, by Riley Sager

Quincy Carpenter became a Final Girl when she survived the massacre that killed five of her college friends, achieving instant fame as a rampage killing’s sole survivor. She remembers little about the Pine Cottage attack besides fleeing through the woods to be rescued by a cop, Coop, who was searching for a patient who had escaped from a nearby psychiatric facility. Coop shot and killed the knife-wielding suspect, creating a connection between the two of them that’s helped Quincy navigate a decade of Final Girl notoriety. Now, as Quincy feels she’s moving forward, a suspicious death thrusts the Final Girl back into the spotlight.

 

 

June 1

 The Circus, by Olivia Levez

It’s a romantic notion, as well-known as fairy tales and often instilled with the same spirit of enchantment, but running away to the circus doesn’t provide Willow a magical escape from life’s problems. On the surface, the calculated destruction of her father’s fiancée’s wedding dress and subsequent disappearance amount to nothing more than a rich girl’s acts of teenage rebellion. However, Willow’s first-person narrative exposes an array of deep-seated troubles propelling her from a posh life to a gritty existence on society’s fringe.

 

June 2

 Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami

Whether in his epic-scale fiction or in his shorter work, Murakami mixes motifs drawn from ordinary life (Italian food, movies, jazz, the Beatles) with the extraordinary presence of alternate realities, but somewhere in that hypnotic combination, there is always a love story. In these seven short tales, told with the author’s signature flatness of tone, which always camouflages deep wellsprings of emotion, the overriding theme is the absence of love, at least on the surface. The narrators’ circumstances vary widely—from a man who strikes up a friendship with one of his dead wife’s lovers to an inverted version of Gregor Samsa (his metamorphosis is from cockroach to man)—but they all share a deep melancholy and a profound loneliness as they remember the curious paths their lives have taken.

 

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About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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