First, a couple of notes:
1. Harlan Coben is coming Monday night, March 28, at 7 to The Book Passage in Corte Madera. I know, it's a really long drive from the South Bay, but it is Harlan Coben! He's one of the favorite authors for a number of us.
2. I finished the new Picoult. It was excellent. I definitely encourage everybody to read it.
Okay, now on to new authors. I have already done a blog post about Stein - The Art of Racing in the Rain - and Robison - Look Me in the Eye. Those were first-time authors for me. Now I've got two more to talk about. One is Taylor Stevens - The Informationist - and Sam Bourne - The Righteous Men. First, Stevens.
This is her debut novel. The book was reviewed by USA Today, who likened the main character to Lisbeth Salander, from the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. The protagonist here, Vanessa Michael Munroe, is in her mid-'20's. She has some similarities to Lisbeth but is not a carbon copy by any means. Most of the story takes place in Africa. Our heroine (is hero male only or can it refer to both?), who goes by the name Michael, specializes in getting information and is helped along by crazy combat skills (see the similarities?). She is hired to find the daughter of a very wealthy Houston oilman, which daughter (awkward!) disappeared in Africa several years earlier.
For a first shot, it's decent. It's good enough that I will read the next one, which is supposed to be a sequel and that will be published next year. I get a sense that Stevens will get better the more she writes. In my experience, it is not uncommon for a writer to get better with each book.
The other new author is Sam Bourne. He has written several. This one has an excellent plot. Righteous men are being killed all around the world in order to bring about the day of judgment (I'll let all of you read it to find out more). The group behind the killings is, not surprisingly, comprised of religious zealots. Most of the action takes place in New York during the High Holy Days (that's the ten days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for those of you who do not know what those Days are), including a large amount of time spent among a band of Chasidic Jews. The protagonist is a young New York Times newspaper reporter who has to find a way to save his wife. The only way he can see doing that is by enlisting the support of an ex-girlfriend.
The problem with the book is that it takes 300 pages (out of 550) before it starts to amp up the excitement of the plot. All of the pages leading up to the last 250 merely set the stage - but way too slowly. The good news is that you will race through the last 250 pages. I would say it's worth it, but you have to be prepared to be a little patient leading up to it. It turns out that Paul and I were reading it at the same exact time without knowing that the other guy was reading it. And, it was the first Bourne for each of us. That has to rank as quite a coincidence The other good news is that Paul is reading another book by him, The Last Testament, and says he gets into the main storyline much fast than with The Righteous Men. Having said all of that (I know you're all shocked that I have overreviewed) , I do recommend it.
Next time, I will give you the other half of the series that I think many of you would like.