Reviews of the Week, with Karin Slaughter, Olen Steinhauer, Paula Stokes, and More!

Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from April 30–May 4 below.

 

 

Monday, April 30

 The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker, by Matilda Woods

Woods fashions an incredibly tender, old-fashioned story in her debut. Using an economy of prose, she confidently unspools the story of young Tito Bonito and how he came to Allora, a quaint Italian town known for its flying fish and colorful houses. There, a carpenter named Alberto lives atop a hill, and after a plague ravages the town and claims his family, he becomes Allora’s coffin maker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 1

 The Verdun Affair, by Nick Dybeck

In Verdun, France, the site of WWI’s most horrific and prolonged trench-warfare battle, Tom, an American orphaned in France as a boy and taken in by the church, served as an ambulance driver at Verdun and now collects bones in a quixotic effort to identify the dead. Dybek (When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man2012) has created a carefully constructed, deeply inquisitive, and broodingly romantic tale of mourning resonant with judicious echoes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

 

Wednesday, May 2

 Pieces of Her, by Karin Slaughter

Slaughter moves in a new direction with this story of a woman whose past catches up with her. Mousy Laura Cooper lives a quiet life in Georgia with her twentysomething daughter, Andrea. One morning, the women are in a restaurant when a man bursts in and starts shooting. Laura leaps up and kills the man, leaving Andrea (and the whole world, thanks to another diner’s cellphone video) wondering where the hell Laura’s ninja-like skills came from.

 

 

 

Thursday, May 3

 The Middlemanby Olen Steinhauer

Cold War spy fiction had one big advantage: The pace of change was relatively slow. How can a writer keep up in today’s turbulent world? Steinhauer (All the Old Knives, 2015) doesn’t chase current events but still somehow captures the zeitgeist. In The Middleman, the mostly young followers of a movement known as the Massive Brigade suddenly begin disappearing—but where have they gone and what are they planning?

 

Friday, May 4

 Hidden Pieces, by Paula Stokes

Embry’s on a romantic break from her soldier boyfriend, but she doesn’t want to hurt him by telling him she’s moved on with the artistic Holden. The high-school seniors meet in a shuttered hotel, until, during a sexual encounter, a candle is kicked over, and the place burns down. It’s pragmatic to keep silent, but then Embry starts getting blackmail texts.

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