Jean Heller’s Nightstand
Author Jean Heller shares books she has read recently and highly recommends and books that reside in her TBR pile that she’s eager to start.
1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction is one of the most touching and deftly written books I’ve read in the last two decades. A lovely story of a blind French girl caught up in the German invasion of Paris during World War II and a genius German boy with a conscience, who is conscripted into the military. That their paths should cross is preordained but not predictable. You might wish for a different ending, but nothing else would have worked so poignantly.
2. Moonlight Water by Winfred Blevins and Meredith Blevins. Winfred Blevins, one of America’s best writers of fiction focused on scrupulously researched Native American lore, teams with his wife in this story of loss and redemption. Robbie, a burned out musician, has a vision of a new life. He fakes his own death, assumes a new identity, and sets out to drive around the country. But he gets no farther than Navajo country and a mystery that will change everything he once considered important.
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Closets That Need Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. My closets needed cleaning out. What can I tell you? The mystery in this book is why it works, but it does.
4. Make Me by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is one of my guilty pleasures. His adventures are pure escapism. This twentieth book in the series is no different. Reacher steps off a train in a weird little town called Mother’s Rest and steps into a mystery that turns darker by the page. The imagery here is disturbing, but the action is pure Reacher.
5. The Redeemers by Ace Atkins. Welcome back to Tibbehah County, Mississippi, where Sheriff Quinn Colson has been voted out of office, a vote likely fixed by County Supervisor Johnny Stagg, a bad guy who thinks he runs the county and hates Colson because he is uncorruptable. This is a tale with multiple threads, the best of which is an impossibly botched crime of retribution committed by a gang that truly can’t shoot straight but is no less deadly for that. Atkins’s great skills are characterizations and dialogue, and he has those elements of northern Mississippi down pat. Super read.
6. Dry Ice by Stephen White. Back in the 90s when I was reviewing thrillers for several national newspapers, I got hooked on Stephen White’s series featuring Alan Gregory, a Colorado psychotherapist. Gregory was a fresh idea, and White knew how to build a thriller. After binging on the books for a while, I drifted away. Recently I picked up DRY ICE and was hooked all over again. The meaning of the title alone is worth the price of admission.
Jean Heller’s career included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Cox Newspapers and Newsday in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg Times in Washington, D.C. and Florida.
Jean has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Her novels include The Someday File (the first novel in the Deuce Mora series), and the stand-alone thrillers, Handyman and Maximum Impact.
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