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  • Melissa Albert 3:30 pm on 2014/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: a wild sheep chase, , dandelion wine, dublin murder squad, get in trouble, , , kathryn davis, , magic for beginners, , , roadfood, , , the thin place, ,   

    Books to Read While You’re Waiting for Twin Peaks’ Return 

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    The long dreamed-of return of Twin Peaks is happening, and we haven’t stopped eating celebratory pie and coffee since David Lynch gave word. While we wait for the third season to arrive with nothing but our sentient log friends to keep us company, we’ll be losing ourselves in books that capture the spirit of Lynch’s singular town, where girls dance to Angelo Badalamenti, BOB roams your nightmares in double denim, and do-gooding cops face surreal evils and come out on top. Here are the books you should read between now and the return of Agent Dale Cooper:

    The Secret Place, by Tana French
    In French’s latest, a police detective trespasses on the mystical terrain of female best friendship while investigating the murder of a young boarding-school boy, found dead on the grounds of an adjacent all-girls academy. The girls at the center of the story have as many secrets as Laura Palmer, and their nascent sexuality and secretive world confound a detective who knows there’s more to their stories than meets the eye.

    Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link
    Link shares Lynch’s skill of spiking the mundane with a shot of weirdness, knowing that a world just a half-step out of sync with our own can be more arresting than a wholly invented place. In her second collection (watch for the fourth, Get in Trouble, next February), Link imagines alien territories inside of handbags, a new home where items become haunted one by one, and a mysterious, impossible TV show that reaches out to its biggest fan. (And if you want to really freak yourself out, go out of your way to read “The Specialist’s Hat,” the standout tale in her debut collection Stranger Things Happen. It’s got an ending that will coil up in your lizard brain and creep you out for weeks.)

    The Thin Place, by Kathryn Davis
    Davis’s “thin place” is a seaside town where magic can happen, for good or for ill. In the opening pages of this surreal, beguiling novel, a trio of little girls finds a dead man on a beach. One of them intervenes—and he’s alive again. From there the story unspools, about everyday life in a town where oddities breed oddities. Davis’s prose will put you into a trance, and her ending will delicately devastate you.

    A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami
    No matter what manner of weirdness Kyle MacLachlan’s indomitable Cooper encounters, he accepts the terms of the messed-up world he’s in. He has this in common with the nameless hero of A Wild Sheep Chase, a man whose encounter with a high-class thug who demands he track down a very specific sheep explodes his low-key existence, sending him down a wormhole into a world of shell-shocked sheep men, disappearing women, and ghostly visitors. And food, beer, movies, and jazz, of course. This is Murakami.

    Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s summer-set coming-of-age novel takes place in a sepia-tinged America of wide open spaces and boys being boys, but one that buzzes with an undercurrent of magic. Though it has more earnest heart and far less weird than the town of Twin Peaks, Green Town has the same feeling of a place out of time, both darkly real and tinged with nostalgia.

    Roadfood, by Jane and Michael Stern
    The Sterns have made it their business to know where you can find the best pie, coffee, and everything else you’d want to eat while driving America’s roadways, and business is delicious. If you found yourself zoning out during every Twin Peaks episode because all you could think was, “damn, that pie looks good,” then this is the book for you.

    The post Books to Read While You’re Waiting for Twin Peaks’ Return appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lauren Passell 3:30 pm on 2014/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , dublin murder squad, faithful place, , murder, , , , ,   

    Tana French’s The Secret Place Will Lose You in a Thick, Irish (Teenage) Fog 

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    91ONkBR1EaLSometimes there’s nothing better than cozying up with a big, juicy thriller that sets your heart racing. Tana French fans know the famed Irish mystery novelist will never disappoint readers looking for an intoxicating narrative filled with multifaceted characters and layers of intrigue. In her latest, The Secret Place, French pulls the reader through a foggy mess of teenage deception and murder, bringing back some beloved characters from her Dublin Murder Squad stories and introducing some new ones, too.

    French fans will be pleased to see the return of Detective Stephen Moran, whom we met in French’s earlier novel, Faithful Place. This time, Moran’s career needs some life breathed into it, so he’s somewhat pleased when teenager Holly Mackey, murder investigator Frank Mackey’s daughter, who was a tiny girl clinging to a doll in Faithful Place, approaches him with a clue from a crime that took place a year earlier. Popular teen Chris Harper was found murdered on the campus of Holly’s elite all-girl’s boarding school, St. Kilda’s, and nobody was able to find out who was behind it. Now, as Holly offers Moran the clue—a photo of Chris with a note that says “I know who killed him,” which was left on a confessional bulletin board in the school where girls can leave anonymous messages—Moran knows he has a chance to impress his superiors if he can crack this case and join the murder squad, as he’s always wanted. This includes wooing the particularly stodgy Antoinette Conway, the case’s lead detective.

    Moran has basically narrowed down the suspect list to two warring groups of teenage girls. The problem is, the girls have woven a complicated web of gossip, jealousy, love, friendship, adolescent hysteria, and teenspeak for Moran to navigate. (Oh, the teenspeak! It plops you right into the center of the girls’ quick-paced conversations!) Their stories often change after the first, second, and third rounds of questioning, and their ever-evolving relationships with each other and their classmates are not what you expect. I could never tell whether they were being evil geniuses and totally pulling the wool over my eyes (and Moran’s), ten steps ahead of the investigation, or if they were truly as clueless as they pretended to be. Unsettling!

    The book, which takes place in one day, jumps back and forth from the murder investigation to Chris Harper’s last days, weeks, and months, so we’re able to get a sense of the emotions and social pacts keeping some of these girls together and pushing some of them apart, as well as an understanding of which of them have something to hide when it comes to Chris Harper. Which faction (both somewhat despisable) is innocent? Are any of the girls telling the truth? Who’s defending whom? Who was smart enough to do this? Who had a reason to? With these wicked girls, Moran finds, it’s more complicated than solving who, what, where, when, or why. One must dig much deeper than that, particularly when Holly’s father, Frank, shows up on the scene, determined to protect his daughter, yet holding the fate of Moran’s career in the palm of his hand.

    A supernatural element keeps the narrative feeling as dreamy and confounding as a thick Irish fog, and French manages to convey a foreboding feeling that something very, very bad is about to happen at every turn. Every time you think the dust is about to settle, she rips away a bit of the solid ground you’re standing on, ensuring that you’re never at rest, or even at a point where you feel you can put the book down.

    Are you a Tana French fan?

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