Finley Public Library

  Book Reviews   | |

October 10, 2011

Gamble by Felix Francis.  Felix Francis is author Dick Francis' youngest son and has been the "technical advisor" for the elder Francis for years even before the death of Mrs. Francis.  It makes sense then that Felix would become the heir apparent for the Francis writing dynasty which included his father (plots), his mother (co-oping the writing with his father) and himself.  Gamble is the first in what is hoped to be another long line of Francis novels.  This one includes--besides horse racing--the world of Internet gambling, Bulgarian hit men, and independent financial advisors.  Dick Francis fans--REJOICE!  (large print)

Bleeding Kansas by Sara Parestsky.  The reader may know author Parestsky through her V. I. Warshawski private eye series.  This is not that!   If you are familiar with the history of Kansas, you know that Kansas came into the Union as an anti-slavery state (January 29, 1861) just before the first battle of the Civil War.  Freedmen and women fearful for their lives made their way there, often hidden by residents along the way.  William Quantrell, a Confederate leader who was working out of Missouri to try to keep slaves from leaving that slave state, often ranged into Kansas looking for Freedmen to bring them back (or kill them) to Missouri.  His most famous raid was on Lawrence, Kansas, where this novel takes place.  Homes were ravaged and burned and people were shot in the streets.  During the late 60's and early 70's student activism in colleges (Kansas University where the student union was burned among other rioting outbreaks) and high schools was rampant.  Strict religious teachings is also an important and active part of the history of this area.  Set against this historical backdrop, Bleeding Kansas tells the story of three farm families--linked from the 1860's--in today's society.  The book is written from many viewpoints, there are many characters, and there is some awful things that happen.  In this regard the reader may not feel the book is worth the time, but keep reading.  Remember author Parestsky was raised in this area.  Her father was a professor at KU.  Perhaps semi-autobiographical--"on one level [this book] is a cross between Judith Guest's Ordinary People and Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres with a bit of Romeo and Juliet thrown in for good measure"--Bleeding Kansas is thorough proof that history does influence our lives today (although many high school history students would disagree!).  (regular print)

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt.  Seventh in this series New Tricks features Paterson, NJ, defense attorney Andy Carpenter.  Andy has earned the name "the lawyer of the dogs" and his client in this book is certainly a big one!  "Waggy", a Bernese Mountain puppy and a potential blue ribbon winner, seems somehow to be connected to the death of a well-known CEO in the pharmaceutical industry.  But the CEO is not the last death to happen, and it seems someone wants "Waggy" dead as well.  Why?  A good mystery, well-written court room drama, fun characters and zippy dialogue carry the reader to the somewhat surprising ending.  Finley Public Library has numbers 7, 8 (Dog Tags), and 9 (One Dog Night) in this series.  (regular print)

Where the Heart is by Billie Letts.  (Oprah's Book Club) Left at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma by her soon-to-be-in-prison boy friend, Novalee Nation is 17 years old and seven months pregnant.  Spending her nights in the Wal-Mart and her days walking through the town Novalee meets many eccentric and interesting  characters along the way.  When it comes time for the birth of her of her baby, however, she finds that there are good people in the world--something she had never before believed.  Other books Finley Public Library has by Billie Letts are Shoot the Moon and Made in the U.S.A.  

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