Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tempting Titles: Fresh Fiction - July


April in Paris by Michael Wallner

It is the summer of 1943, and Wehrmacht corporal Roth finds himself in Paris, translating SS interrogations of French prisoners. He hates the brutality that follows, but it is preferable to being at the front, isn't it? Wanting to find some measure of escape, he secretly trades in his uniform for a checkered suit and transforms himself into Monsieur Antoine, a Frenchman. In this guise, he meets Chantal, a bookseller's daughter who is also a member of the Resistance: he is enchanted by her, she is suspicious of him. Yet when the SS raid the barbershop where Chantal's fellow activists gather, he proves he isn't her enemy despite his nationality. Then, after a bombing at a brothel that kills high-ranking German officers, Roth is suspected of treason and now the translator is the detainee. As Antoine, he had only wanted to "flee reality." Now, reality is all around him. Actor/screenwriter Wallner describes occupied Paris with all the detail and clarity of a spring day. The reader is sympathetic to the hapless Roth, who, despite his contributions to the Nazi machine, is just a young man looking forward to the end of the war. (Library Journal Review)


A Stranger Lies There by Stephen Santogrossi.

In Santogrossi's engrossing, dark debut (winner of the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic contest for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel), the curiously endearing protagonist, Tim Ryder, wakes up one morning to find a dead body on his Palm Springs, Calif., lawn. Ryder, a carpenter, wonders if the murder is connected to testimony he gave against a co-conspirator in a criminal case 30 years earlier, when he did time for a bungled robbery, a misguided attempt to raise money for anti–Vietnam War protests. With the next current-day casualty, the matter becomes more urgent, and even more personal, and Tim is determined to find the killer. On occasion, Santogrossi veers off into preachy description, breaking the cardinal show-don't-tell rule, but his well-drawn characters, unexpected resolution and sharp casual insights make for an energizing read. (Publisher's Weekly Review)


Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer.

Starred Review. Nearly 40 years have passed since Dr. Sarah Halifax cracked an encoded message from an alien intelligence. A second encoded message presages the start of a human-alien dialog, and Sarah, now in her eighties, is offered a rare rejuvenation procedure to enable her to live long enough to usher in a new era. When the process succeeds for her husband but fails for her, she must continue her efforts at breaking the new code while coping with a husband with whom she can no longer grow old. Sawyer (Calculating God), winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, is no stranger to controversial issues. This tale raises many questions about the ethics of life extension. Above all, the author's characters bear their human strengths and weaknesses with dignity and poise. An elegantly told story for all libraries; highly recommended. (Library Journal Review)

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