Books: 759

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Annie LeBlanc Is Not Dead Yet
Molly Morris
Wednesday Books

How many tiny towns draw lots for a death-sacrifice, or, like Lennon, CA, hold once-a-decade contests allowing the winner the choice of one person’s return–for 30 days. Wilson Moss won, choosing her ex-best friend, Annie LeBlanc, who’d ghosted Wil a year before drowning. Ryan, third best friend, isn’t speaking to Wil since they kissed, seems now permanently angry. What deep teen truths stir this plot? Is it true there’s a loophole through which Annie can return permanently? What is “permanent” in the span of a human life, even a young one? What, Wil considers, might Annie herself want? And what, most especially did Wil and Ryan’s kiss portend? Farfetched, assuredly, but Morris’s characters, including Jody, Wil’s mom; former hippie, now soon-to-be-wed-to-Doctor-David, keep the reader’s attention  engaged.

To Die in June
Alan Parks

Harry McCoy’s fifth thriller opens with a Glasgow down-and-outer dead in a pile of rubble. “Govan Jamie…hangs about with my dad sometimes,” McCoy explains to partner Wattie, encapsulating his own past. They’re next transferred over to Possil station, undercover, seeking suspected inside crime; McCoy’s in the know, Wattie’s not. At Possil, a woman reports her 9-year-old son is missing–much hue and cry, then…her preacher husband greets them at the door, asserting there is no son. Never was. But there is, soon after, a hideous bludgeoning execution, blood and gore galore…and, more street people dead–poisoned? Why? Where is McCoy’s father? Parks’s thrillers beg the escalation to higher regions of darkness: “noirer,” perhaps “noirest:”–the un-adorned adjective “noir” is too pale a shade of evil.

Mesha Maren

Shae met Cam when she was sixteen, helping her mom with a free lunch program for poor kids in a small town in Greenbriar County, WV. Narrating through Shea’s voice, her ignorance of time of consequences, the reader experiences her reality. Cam is “she,” but Shea is pregnant. Cam is changing pronouns and clothing–Shea is still pregnant. After a near-fatal C-section, daughter Eva is born, leaving Shea dependent on opioids. Shea and Cam make different life decisions, but one must consider whether Cam’s success, however difficult its achievement, might likely have been influenced by her initial immersion– despite bullying–into assumed male competence, almost diametrically opposed to Shea’s isolation within a milieu of feminine acquiescence and passivity, had tipped a balance not yet restored.

Where the Forest Meets the River
Shannon Bowering

Bowering’s characters debuted in The Road to Dalton (2023).  In Dalton now, it’s May,1995. Like a river’s waters, Dalton’s citizens have altered. June 3, 1990, Nate Theroux’s wife Bridget took her life; still grief-ridden, he’s being all he can for five-year-old daughter Sophie. Formerly fat kid Greg Fortin has leaned down and is returning–reluctantly–to be best man in his sister’s wedding and to work over summer in his father’s hardware store. He seeks the courage to confess his disinclination to inherit the family business, or to marry. Members of every social rank have changed; some fared well, others are declining, some passed on. Quotidian, yes: boring, no. Bowering weaves them together in their new aspects, giving hints of future possibilities in book three.

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