Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy is a suspenseful tale of how quickly life can go from wonderful to terrifying. Two privileged Los Angeles families decide to take a cruise to Central America with their children, ages 6-11, and all starts out splendid, with beautiful scenery, a nonstop buffet and an entertaining kids’ club. Then one afternoon, the wives and children pair up with a woman from Argentina and her two teenagers for a zip line excursion. A vehicle breakdown, a moment of inattention on the beach, and suddenly all six children go missing. This plot-driven tale alternates between what is happening to the children with how the parents cope and react. Although some may find the ending a bit contrived, this is a quick read that is hard to put down.
You don’t have to be a mystery lover to enjoy Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders, but a careful reading for those who are will find all sorts of delightful references to the genre. Horowitz, who wrote scripts for Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders, as well as other books, has written a very clever mystery within a mystery. The book starts with editor Susan Ryland sharing with us the script of famous author Alan Conway’s latest novel–a classic British mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. However, the last chapter is missing, and when she tells her boss, she learns that the famous author has committed suicide. However, as she gleans clues from the first manuscript, Susan comes to believe Alan’s death may have been murder. Great fun as the reader becomes involved in seeking out clues while enjoying the “in” jokes and various plays on words.
With all the hoopla about the musical Hamilton, many of us have become more interested in the events concerning that time in our history. However, if you tried reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and found it a bit too heavy, try reading Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick. This riveting nonfiction narrative mixes scholarship with great storytelling, centering on the figures George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Covering a period of four years, set amidst infighting of generals and dismal conditions, the reader gains a greater understanding of how Washington worked hard to overcome many difficulties while Arnold succumbed to a long list of slights he felt against him.