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Author Archive for Susan Craig

Blue Monday

by Susan Craig on April 27th, 2012
Blue Monday Cover Image

If you like dark psychological mysteries you will like Blue Monday  from husband and wife writing team Nicci French.  You will meet Frieda Klein a complex, solitary London psychotherapist whose belief in the absolute confidentiality of her patients is tested when one of them shares dreams and thoughts that are disturbingly linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.  Similarities also exist between this child’s abduction and one of a girl twenty-two years ago.  Klein ends up in an uneasy partnership with Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Karlsson while she tries to cope with a immigrant builder, a mentor losing his edge, and a romantic interest who is moving.  Plot twists abound, perhaps a little too much, but the characters are compelling.  This is the first in a series, I’ll be interested in seeing what color Tuesday is.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

by Susan Craig on March 30th, 2012
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett Cover Image

This intriguing novel starts in Minnesota, at a big pharmaceutical research lab, where Marina Singh has worked for several years.  Dr Singh’s colleague, Anders Eckman, went to the Amazon area to get a progress report from veteran researcher, Dr Annick Swenson, who has not been forthcoming on the outcome of her studies and the corporate funders are growing anxious.   A brief report of Anders death arrives in Minnesota and Marina is sent to find out the details by her married lover, and boss, Mr Fox.  The contrast between Minnesota and the Amazon region where the Lakashi tribe lives could not be more stark.  Marina finds herself cut off from the world she knows, even wearing native attire after her clothes are stolen, as she tries to learn more about Anders’ death and the status of Dr Swenson’s research into the fertility of women of the tribe who routinely gnaw the bark of a certain species of trees and continue to have babies well into their 70′s.  As Annika observes, what 70 year old woman wants to have babies?  Good question, and one that this novel explores along with many others including the place of commercialism in medicine, culture and identity, good and evil.  It’s a real tale, well told.

The Sandburg Connection

by Susan Craig on February 19th, 2012
The Sandburg Connection Cover Image

Private investigator Sam Blackman and his partner Nakayla Robertson have been hired by an insurance company to investigate a history professor’s malpractice suit against a spinal surgeon.  They follow her to Connemara, Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, where she takes a fatal fall down a mountain.  Before her death she utters the words, “It’s the Sandburg verses.”  There are many mysteries here — why was she on the mountain, what about the Sandburg verses, did she have grounds to sue for malpractice, what mysterious research was she conducting before her death, and, of course, was she murdered or was it an accident?  Let me just say that more murders follow, so you know the answer to the last question.  Sam and Nakayla and likeable people with both a professional and a personal relationship.  Sam uses a prosthesis leg due to his military service in Iraq which limits him a little physically.  I think people will find the North Carolina and academic settings as well has the historical detail about Carl Sandburg interesting.  I had never read any books by the author, Mark DeCastrique, but I plan to go back and see what I missed.

All Iowa Reads 2012 Selects Kidder

by Susan Craig on February 10th, 2012
All Iowa Reads 2012 Selects Kidder Cover Image

The 2012 All Iowa Reads title is Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, only the second nonfiction book in the program’s nine year history.  Strength in What Remains tells the story of Deogratis, or Deo, who as a 22 year old medical student barely escapes the Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in Burundi.  He finds himself in New York City in 1994 with no English skills and $200.  The story moves back and forth in time and place — from Africa to New York.  And. although the horror of events in Africa is almost undescribable, living poor on the streets of New York as a young black man with no money is not an easy life either.  Deo is helped by remarkable, generous people — but, the personal courage and fortitude needed to prevail is his.  As a member of the All Iowa Reads Committee I recently did a program on this book with Kirkwood instructor, George Minot.  He said the key to good nonfiction writing is to “make what is true believable.”  Everyone should read this inspiring story from a great author who succeeds in that goal.