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Beach Reads: September 5, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Wednesday, September 03, 2014 02:47 pm

Ragtime Cowboys Ragtime Cowboys

Ragtime Cowboys

By Loren D. Estleman, Forge

In the grand tradition of Western writer Louis L’Amour, Estleman spins this entertaining yarn about two former Pinkerton detectives in shabby, crime-ridden “Hollywoodland” circa 1921. Real-life gumshoes Charles D. Siringo (known as the “cowboy detective”) and a tubercular Dashiell Hammett (who has yet to make his name as a writer) are on the trail of a ranch hand who stole a horse from Wyatt Earp. The men soon sense there are dirtier doings afoot, involving Charmian London, widow of “The Call of the Wild” author Jack London; a sinister card sharp named Clanahan and his murderous henchman, “the Eel”; and rum-runner Joseph P. Kennedy, who even then is boasting he will someday see his son in the White House. Packed with wry, crackling dialogue and references to the famous and infamous of the period (Butch Cassidy, Judge Roy Bean, Fatty Arbuckle, Will Rogers), “Ragtime Cowboys” is an easy ride in a well-broke saddle. And it’s tons of fun.

Read more: Beach Reads: September 5, 2014


Beach Reads: August 29, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Thursday, August 28, 2014 03:37 pm

Mr. Mercedes Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King, Scribner
Brady Hartfield is a born loser, a grown man who sells ice cream, works at a discount electronics store and lives with his mother. But behind the wheel of a stolen Mercedes, he gains power – horsepower, that is, and the ability to instantly snuff out lives. Hartfield’s greatest achievement was plowing into a line of people at a job fair, killing eight. The case went cold, and investigator Bill Hodges, now retired, sits at home, brooding and flirting with suicide. Then Hodges gets a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, punctuated by smiley faces, gloating that he will kill again. That’s all it takes to get the cop back in the game. This is nail-biting stuff, with a bang-up finish.

Read more: Beach Reads: August 29, 2014


Beach Reads: Aug. 22, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Friday, August 22, 2014 04:12 pm

The Black-Eyed Blonde The Black-Eyed Blonde The Black-Eyed Blonde
by Benjamin Black, Henry Holt
Beautiful Clare Cavendish hires private detective Philip Marlowe to track down her runaway lover. Though Nico Peterson ostensibly died in a hit-and-run outside a fancy L.A. club and was identified at the morgue by his sister, Clare insists she spotted him days later, alive and well on the streets of San Francisco. Marlowe takes the case, and soon uncovers a hornet’s nest of unsavory characters from both ends of society’s food chain.Though Raymond Chandler died in 1959, his world-weary gumshoe lives on thanks to Benjamin Black, the nom de plume of award-winning novelist Ben Banville. Is Nico really alive? If so, why did he fake his death? And what is the truth about his relationship with the black-eyed blonde? Writing with the blessing of Chandler’s estate, Black has revived the wisecracking PI for yet another entertaining misadventure.

Read more: Beach Reads: Aug. 22, 2014


Beach Reads: August 15, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Thursday, August 14, 2014 04:00 pm

Power Play Power Play

Power Play

by Danielle Steel, Delacorte Press
“Power Play” is classic Steel: the parallel story of two powerful CEOs, their family dramas, and the secrets that could imperil one man’s place at the top of the world. Fiona Carson is the principled leader of a high-tech company. Divorced for many years from a man who felt threatened by her success, she is focused, to a fault, on her career and her children. Fiona has no time for love, though her sister urges her to make room for it. Marshall Weston is the head of the nation’s second-largest publicly held company. His life is picture-perfect, with a beautiful, gracious wife, three kids, multimillion-dollar bonuses, and a private plane to take him wherever he wants to go. But Weston makes far too much room for love, in its many guises. Will his dalliances lead to disaster? Will Fiona ever meet her match? “Power Play” is burdened with too much exposition in the opening chapters – a fault of Steel’s – but once you get past that, you’re on the straightaway, and the story is fun. Perfect beach reading.

Read more: Beach Reads: August 15, 2014


Beach Reads: August 8, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Friday, August 08, 2014 12:00 am

The Fault in Our Stars The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green, Dutton Books

Published in 2012, “The Fault in Our Stars” is enjoying a second wave of acclaim thanks to the film, and rightly so. The story – about a boy and girl who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group – sounds like a formula for schmaltz. But Green holds the treacle primarily by creating two marvelous leads.

Hazel Grace Alexander is a smart, mercurial girl forced to grapple with Life’s Big Questions at 16. Diagnosed with incurable thyroid cancer, she tries to live her life despite hovering, fearful parents. Her mom coerces Hazel into joining the support group. There she meets sensitive, sardonic Augustus Waters, whose osteosarcoma has robbed him of his leg.

Read more: Beach Reads: August 8, 2014


Beach Reads: August 1, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Friday, August 01, 2014 12:00 am

Down the Shore Down the Shore
by Stan Parish, Viking
Two young men flee personal crises at the Jersey shore for a second chance at St. Andrew’s University in Edinburgh. Tom Alison is the ambitious son of a working-class single mom. He made it into a fancy boarding school and is headed for the Ivy League, where he’ll chase his career dreams straight to Wall Street. When he almost blows it by dealing drugs, Tom decides to redeem himself with a year at the Scottish university, also attended by Prince William. Clare Savage is the son of a disgraced Lehman Brothers financier. His parents have gone into hiding, leaving Clare to deal with the simmering fury of those bilked by his father. Befriended by Tom and his tough, compassionate mother, Clare also decides to take a semester at St. Andrew’s. But Tom’s redemption and Clare’s longing for acceptance both could be derailed when the friends fall in with a reckless, moneyed crowd. This debut novel is smart and fast-paced, and readers will enjoy references to Ocean City, the Wildwoods, LBI and Princeton.

Read more: Beach Reads: August 1, 2014


Beach Reads> July 25, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Friday, July 25, 2014 12:00 am

Under the Wide and Starry Sky Under the Wide and Starry Sky
by Nancy Horan, Ballantine Books
Curl up on the beach or deck and get lost in this sweeping second novel by the author of “Loving Frank.” Like that book, which assayed the tangled love affairs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Horan’s latest tracks the unconventional relationship between Scottish poet and author Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne. In a gesture of rebellion that was shocking for the time, Fanny packed up three children and left her charming, cheating husband to study art in Europe. There she met the callow Stevenson, 10 years younger and still dependent on his businessman father for support. Louis studied to be a lawyer, but after passing the bar cast off his father’s expectations in order to write. He provides the solace and comfort Fanny craves. Pressured by her husband and guilt-ridden over the death of her young son, Fanny decides to give her marriage one more try, and Louis crosses the Atlantic to win her back. This splendid novel, as captivating and wide-ranging as Horan’s great debut, follows the star-crossed couple from struggle to fame and beyond. Absolutely engrossing.

Read more: Beach Reads> July 25, 2014


Beach Reads> July 18, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Thursday, July 17, 2014 03:26 pm

Lost Lake Lost Lake

by Sarah Addison Allen, St. Martin’s Press

This could be the “last, best summer” for visitors to Lost Lake, a remote tumbledown resort in the swamps of Georgia. Business has fallen off since a giant water park opened nearby, and the lake’s widowed owner, Eby Pim, has decided to sell and travel to Europe, where she honeymooned with her beloved husband George. First, however, Eby must do “inventory,” packing up hopes, regrets and memories as well as the accumulated stuff of a lifetime. Her French housemate Lisette is furious at the prospect of change, and declares she cannot live anywhere else. Others are simply nostalgic, including Eby’s great-niece Kate, recently widowed herself, who comes to Lost Lake with her daughter Devin; Selma and Buhladeen, a pair of comical old women who have summered at the resort for years; and Wes, Kate’s girlhood friend, who lost everything in a long-ago fire and is part of the development group intent on buying the resort. When word gets out that Eby is going to sell, a motley group of townspeople decide to throw a farewell party that just might convince her to stay. This sweet novel has moments of pure magic.

Read more: Beach Reads> July 18, 2014


Beach Reads> July 4, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Monday, July 07, 2014 02:50 pm

first-love First Love
by James Patterson, Little, Brown and Company
After the death of her cancer-stricken younger sister, Alexandra Moore – in remission from the same disease – is abandoned by her distraught mother and neglected by her father, who is drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Axi decides to escape with newfound friend and major crush Robinson, once a patient on the same hospital ward. Dubbing themselves Bonnie and Clyde, the teenagers “borrow” a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, then a truck, and light out from Portland, Ore., to see the USA. Driving cross-country with stops in Detroit and New York before ambling south, they fall in love, and do their best to outrun the disease that has so altered their lives. This sweet, funny novel, by Patterson and co-author Emily Raymond, has an adorable young heroine and likeable hero whose zest for adventure, droll repartee, love of bad jokes and devotion to each other illuminates this wistful journey.

Read more: Beach Reads> July 4, 2014


Beach Reads > June 27, 2014

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Written by Marjorie Preston Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:45 pm

Sycamore Row Sycamore Row  Sycamore Row

by John Grisham, Doubleday
Mississippi businessman Seth Hubbard has end-stage lung cancer. After meticulous planning and careful documentation, he hangs himself from a row of sycamore trees on his land. Days later, down-on-his-luck lawyer Jake Brigance – who never met the deceased – gets a handwritten will in the mail and a letter instructing him to leave 90 percent of Hubbard’s fortune to the businessman’s black housemaid, Lettie Lang. Predictably, Hubbard’s grasping family, who never had much use for the old man when he was alive, declares that Lang coerced her suffering employer to sign over his multimillion-dollar estate. Lawyers descend like turkey vultures, trying to get a piece of the inheritance for themselves (and their clients). Grisham is in top form in this entertaining mystery, with its cast of preening attorneys, greedy family members, and Jake, a principled guy who is just trying to do his job.   

Read more: Beach Reads > June 27, 2014


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