In The Stacks: Urban mysteries, period dramas abound at library

Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2003

Here's a new batch of fiction titles that are now available at the Juneau Public Library:

"The Bridge," by Solomon Jones. The Bridge is a housing project seething with poverty, resentment, violence and drugs, and police detective Kevin Lynch thinks he knows all its secrets; after all, he grew up there. But when he begins to search for a missing 9-year-old girl from the Bridge, the daughter of his childhood friend, he finds that the secrets her family and friends keep are much more sinister than he ever imagined.

"Eleanor and Abel," by Annette Sanford. A gentle love story about two very different people who've lived for years on their own but begin to realize they've been waiting for each other. When part of Eleanor's roof blows off during a storm, the retired schoolteacher hires Abel, an itinerant carpenter who is older than she is, to fix it. The longer he stays, the more Abel renovates, including, eventually, Eleanor's life and heart.

"The Druid King," by Norman Spinrad. In the many battles between the Romans and the Gauls, no Gaul withstood as much as Vercingetorix, the Druid King, who is still a French national hero 2,000 years after his death. Raised by druids deep in the forests of Gaul, Vercingetorix found himself and his people pressed by the oncoming Romans. Against tradition, he found a way to unite the Gauls in a last, desperate attempt to push back the Romans once and for all. The Romans so esteemed him as a warrior, that, when they overcame him and his army, they took it as proof of their invincibility.

"Every Secret Thing," by Laura Lippman. Walking home from a birthday party, Alice and Ronnie spot a baby in a carriage all by itself. They know it's wrong to leave so small a child alone and decide to take care of it themselves. Seven years later, Alice and Ronnie have served their sentences for their parts in the baby's death and are released from juvenile detention. Once back in their home neighborhood, they try to make a fresh start. But another baby disappears, and they are at the top of the suspect list. Are the two kidnappings connected?

"The Winter Queen," by Boris Akunin. This is the first of Akunin's mysteries to be translated into English from his native Russian, and, by all accounts, mystery lovers will by lining up for the rest of the series. Young Erast Fandorin is the newest member of the Moscow Police Department when he is sent to investigate the apparent suicide of a student from a wealthy family. What he finds leads him across Europe on the trail of terrorists. Set in the late 1800s, this is a masterful depiction of the era and a thrilling story.

"The Facts of Life," by Graham Joyce. When Cassie Vine becomes pregnant at the end of World War II, her mother decrees that she isn't responsible enough to raise a child. So the baby, Frank, ends up being passed from aunt to aunt to grandmother and back. The Vine family is wonderfully eccentric, and Frank learns different life lessons from each of his aunts and uncles.

"A Choice of Angels," by Charles Sobczak. When Ayse, a young woman from Istanbul, comes to America for college, she promises her Muslim parents that she will not date. And she keeps that promise for the first semester, but soon after she returns to school from winter break, she meets Daniel, the son of a Southern Baptist minister. How their families reconcile themselves in the face of love makes for a moving and thought-provoking story.

"Creation," by Katherine Govier. Govier writes about a "missing period" in the life of artist John James Audubon, speculating on what might have happened to make his granddaughter Maria destroy the portion of his journal covering Audubon's journey between Newfoundland and Labrador. An intimate look at a fascinating, though not always appealing, artist and man.

"Point of Honour," by Madeleine E. Robins. In Regency London, most people believe that a "fallen woman" has no choice but to support herself as a prostitute, but Sarah Tolerance, daughter of nobility and widow of her brother's fencing master, sees different options. She knows that her position in society allows her to travel between social layers, that her keen wit helps her find solutions to puzzles, and that her common sense and prowess with a short sword keeps her out of trouble. So she sets herself up as a private investigator. But one of her first cases turns out to be nearly fatal.

• If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( library) and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in this column is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply look up the column and click on the title you want.

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