In the Stacks

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

This week's focus is on new fiction! Enjoy!

• "2182 kHz," by David Masiel. Henry Seine's idea of fun is scanning marine distress channels, and one day the Arctic deck hand and pothead hears a scientist's call for help. Henry assembles a crew and they head off further north than he's ever been in this whiteknuckle, deadpan adventure.

• "Confessing a Murder," by Nicholas Drayson. The narrator of this story is nameless and, perhaps, insane, but he gives the only account of his marooning upon a tropical island there will ever be. Obviously a naturalist, his writings on the blood-sucking mistletoe he encounters seem to be the inspiration for Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin's theories on evolution. And, in the end, he has a secret...

• "Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl," by Kate McCafferty. Cot Daley was stolen from her Irish home as a child and sent to work on Barbados plantations as an indentured servant. As an adult, involved in an unsuccessful uprising against plantation owners, she is persuaded to give testimony against her fellow conspirators in return for telling her life story. This story is based on a true event from a seldom-read chapter of seventeenth century history.

• "The Shape of Water," by Andrea Camilleri. At home in Sicily, Inspector Montalbono takes it for granted that his days will be filled with good food and wine, and the occasional homicide. When a local bigwig is found dead in his car on the local Lover's Lane, though, Montalbano is galvanized into action.

• "The Officer's Ward," by Marc Dugain. In a World War I hospital ward without mirrors, closed to visitors, live men undergoing various treatments for facial disfigurements. The core group consists of three men, who form an "Officer's Club" when they discover the addition to the ward: a young, formerly beautiful, nurse, who lives at the end of their hall.

• "Number 9 Dream," by David Mitchell. Eiji is a young man who comes to Tokyo in search of his father, but finds a mystery instead. Why are the boundaries between his dreams and his waking life so thin? How has he come to be on a hitman's list? And what is it about the number 9?

• "Year Zero," by Jeff Long. A vial of blood dating back to the first century unleashes a plague. As the world is decimated, the only hope for a cure comes from clones created from bone relics dating back to year zero. But what does it mean when one of those clones claims to be Jesus Christ?

• "Educating Waverley," by Laura Kalpakian. In this story within a story, 23-year old Becky moves to her grandparents' birth island in the Puget Sound, dreaming of finding the places in her grandfather's stories, especially the Waverley Scott, which she believes is a boat. The inner story is of Waverley Scott herself, who, two generations earlier, is sent to school on the island in order to keep her father's guilty conscience at bay.

• "The Blood Doctor," by Barbara Vine. Vine's hallmark stomach-tightening unease within the familiar details of life makes for a great story. Martin is writing a biography of his great-grandfather, Henry, the first doctor granted a peerage for his services to the royal hemophiliacs. Martin comes to suspect that Henry's fascination with blood has a darker side, though, perhaps playing a role in the mysterious deaths of Henry's fiancée, his young son, and others.

• "The Leto Bundle," by Marina Warner. In this time-warped and myth-flavored novel, the story of Leto, an ancient woman struggling to protect twins born to her after her rape by Zeus, is intertwined with the story of Hortense, a modern woman struggling to protect an ancient coffin full of manuscripts. Hortense becomes aware that the bundle of manuscripts is connected to Leto, and both Leto and the manuscripts become a spiritual focus for the dispossessed of the modern world.

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