Saints of the Shadow Bible is Ian Rankin's nineteenth novel in the series featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rebus works out of police departments in Edinburgh and has never traveled outside of Scotland. It is him that keeps bringing me back to the Rebus books.
In this second to last (Even Dogs in the Wild is the latest), Rebus starts out working as a civilian with Cold Cases but re-structuring of the police makes it possible for him to come out of retirement. He is rehired with a demotion to Detective Constable and Siobhan Clarke as his superior.
The plot revolves around the "Saints" of whom Rebus was one. Early in his career, he became a part of the group and they got results but not always by legitimate means. A change in the law allows the new Justice Minister to re-open a 30 year old case that might reveal the unorthodox methods the Saints used to get their man. A present day car accident develops tendrils that twine with the old miscarriage of justice.
Rebus is his unrelentingly grouchy, contrary self. He tries the patience of Siobhan who is trying to fly under the radar and maintain her new position. It is not so much the plot (although it crackles right along) but the character of Rebus himself. You can't help liking him, warts, flaws and obstinacy.
At 700+ pages, Annie Proulx's latest novel is a multi-generational, historical account of North American Forests and the people who logged and clear cut millions of hectares of virgin pine. It follows the fortunes of the Sels and Duquet families as they become lumbering and sawmill magnates. Their lives are intertwined and begin with the first axmen (barkskins or woodcutters) who faced danger, wilderness and swarming insects. Many died in accidents or of infections when an ax went astray. Eventually, the logging expanded from pines (sought after as ships' masts) to other valuable woods and the pulp industry. The story follows characters in subsequent generations of the Sels and Duquets and M'ikmac people who travel to New Brunswick, Canada and New Zealand for more and bigger trees. Proulx explains how the 18th and 19th century loggers thought the forests were unending and never thought of the exploitation, the changes to the environment and the eventual demise of old growth trees. The impact of the clearing of forests on the M'ikmac indigenous people is explored in this thoughtful and serious book. I do recommend it BUT for myself, I would just get engaged with characters to have them disappear in a line or two as Proulx takes us to the next generation. The Shipping News (winner of the Pultizer Prize for Fiction) and Brokeback Mountain are perhaps her best known works. All have received critical acclaim. If you have time and the inclination for a serious read, I recommend Barkskins.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.