Robert Sawyer's brain. I don't usually read science fiction but he is Canadian and it was time to try something other than mysteries and thrillers. Quantum Night was all I was looking for and more.
It is set in Winnipeg and Saskatoon- yes, I said Winnipeg. Naheed Nenshi is Prime Minister, an NDP, Muslim Prime Minister and it is the near future. Jim Marchuk is an experimental psychologist whose research leads him to a simple test to identify psychopaths. After acting as an expert witness in a murder trial in the United States, he realizes he has a gap of 6 months in his memory. He goes to speak with an old professor (now a colleague) as he tries to find out what happened to him years ago. He re-unites with an old girlfriend he had for-gotten about. She is now a quantum physicist
whose research has made a terrifying discovery about human consciousness. The adventure continues and near the end of the book (no spoilers), every Canadian's secret or not so secret fear is addressed. The United States Government has a "valid" reason to cross the border and take us over. Thriller, romance and ground-breaking science by turn, this is a great read. Best of all, there is a section at the end where Robert Sawyer lists his research and sources. He doesn't just make that sh-t up; he bases it on real possibilities. I am headed to the library for his older books I have missed. Yay!
I tried to like The High Mountains of Portugal and failed. That doesn't mean the other, more cultured or more intelligent people won't.
Some of it is very entertaining. In the first part. Homeless, Tomas has lost his wife, his child and his father. In a paroxysm of continuing grief,he walks backwards and then fixates on finding a particular cross and eventually sets out guided by the diary of Father Ulisses' to find it in, well, the church in The High Mountains of Portugal. That isn't the entertaining part...the entertaining part is in 1904 Tomas struggles mightily to learn to drive and maintain the car his uncle gives him to use in his quest.
In Part Two: Homeward, we jump to 1934 and a bizarre theory that connects the novels of Agatha Christie to the life of Christ. I guess
they are all mysteries. The theory is being explained to a pathologist, at work by his wife. An old peasant woman appears with her husband's body in a bag. She has traveled all the way from The High Mountains of Portugal and demands the pathologist perform an autopsy on her husband.
Part Three- Home and now it's 1981. A Canadian Senator, Peter Tovy, of Portuguese ancestry has lost his wife, Clara. In his grief and on an official trip to the States, he adopts a chimpanzee. Then he winds up all his affairs in Canada and moves to The High Mountains of Portugal. At the very end, these three seemingly unrelated stories are tied together.
I am guessing the book is about grief and the strange ways that we deal with it. It's a little too strange for me but I'm a concrete kind of person. Don't take my word, try reading it yourself.
"Well, obviously someone came here," I point out. "That girl didn't show up on her own and light herself on fire."
Dove Carnahan is the Chief of Police in a Pennsylvania county where coal was once King and she has just been called to Campbell's Run, the burned-out townsite where the body of a 17 year old girl has been found. The killing is nasty and Dove, herself, has experienced tragedy in her 50 years. When she was 15, her mother was murdered. She and her younger sister, Neely, tried to carry on. She hasn't seen the baby of the family, her brother, Champ, for years. The past and present collide in this gritty novel by the author of Back Roads, an Oprah book selection. As Dove unravels the tangle of dysfunction that is the murder victim's family, she reveals the despair resulting from multi-generational poverty. Tawni O'Dell has
packed a lot into the 279 pages of Angels Burning. If you are looking for a read that is entertaining, but explores the very real problems of poverty, family dysfunction and abuse, I highly recommend Angels Burning.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.