It is always a joy to discover a novel that strays from what the author usually crafts. It is like sifting through gravel and finding several flecks of gold.
Dark Matter (2003) by Philip Kerr, the acclaimed author of the Bernie Gunther mystery series, is an engrossing detective story set in 1696 London during the reign of William III. Christopher Ellis, a young, passionate gentleman is sent to the Tower of London to assist Sir Isaac Newton, recently appointed as the Warden of the Royal Mint, to hunt down counterfeiters who threaten to topple the shaky, war-weakened economy of England.
The new partners, armed with Newton’s towering intellect and Ellis’s ability with a sword, appear primed to solve the case. But appearances can deceive and the partners soon realize there is likely much more to the story after they discover a mysterious coded message on a corpse hidden in the Lion Tower. And their suspicions are confirmed as the body count rises and they uncover a detailed plot that might lead to the collapse of the government and cost them their lives.
Lincoln’s Dreams (1987) by Connie Willis, is a charming, intriguing romance that works on more than one level. As a researcher for a popular historical novelist, Jeff Johnston, finds himself sifting through the minutiae of the American Civil War. But a meeting with Annie, a patient of old friend, Dr. Richard Madison, changes his perspective and redefines reality.
Meanwhile as the novelist considers a book on Lincoln’s prophetic dreams, Annie is experiencing vivid, horrible dreams of the Civil War, complete with details she could not possibly know. There is no question the point of view is that of defeated Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Jeff attempts to shield Annie from the grasping novelist and doctor and leads her on a journey through the heartland of the Civil War in search of a cure. And the relationship between the two young people, trapped by history and torn by duty, blossoms as they navigate the long-silenced battlefields of the Civil War.
The Jealous Kind (2016) by James Lee Burke is a dark, atmospheric coming-of-age tale about two teenagers struggling to make it through high school without being whacked by Mafia hitmen, low-life thugs and greasers with switchblade knives. It is set in Houston during the Korean War.
Seventeen-year-old Aaron unwittingly challenges the power of the Mob when he stumbles into a steamy teenage romance with Valerie Epstein, a beautiful, gifted girl, and angers Grady, her rich country-club ex-boyfriend. Grady vows to take revenge and Aaron, and best-friend Saber, soon find themselves fighting for their lives when they are framed for arson and murder.
And it even gets worse when Grady’s pink Caddie, full of money and gold is stolen. The Mafia believes it is their money, they want it back and they believe Aaron and Saber have it.
All three titles are available through your Okanagan Regional Library at www.orl.bc.ca.