Windsor Star - - BOOKS - The As­so­ci­ated Press Lincee Ray, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Fast Falls the Night Ju­lia Keller Mino­taur

An on­go­ing theme in Ju­lia Keller’s su­pe­rior series about Raythune County pros­e­cu­tor Bell Elkins is how these West Vir­ginia res­i­dents ma­noeu­vre when jobs are scarce but drugs have over­run the area. Hope, though of­ten in short sup­ply, is the only thing to which they can cling.

Hope seems elu­sive in Fast Falls the Night, Keller’s ex­cel­lent sixth novel that takes place dur­ing 24 hours, mainly in the town of Acker’s Gap. By the end of the hor­rific day, 33 peo­ple will have over­dosed from tainted heroin, three will have died from the drugs and two other deaths are di­rectly re­lated to the heroin that has been laced with an ele­phant tran­quil­lizer. The epi­demic stretches thin the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, the po­lice, paramedics and hos­pi­tal staff as each hour brings more over­doses.

The sit­u­a­tion also brings a moral co­nun­drum — how to treat ad­dicts for whom few have sym­pa­thy. “They’ve done it to them­selves,” be­comes a con­stant re­frain.

Keller’s chal­lenge, which she rises to beau­ti­fully, is mak­ing the reader care and un­der­stand why these peo­ple turned to drugs, with­out sanc­tion­ing their ac­tions. Fast Falls the Night is less a tale about drug over­doses and more about com­pas­sion and com­plex char­ac­ters.

The bal­ance in Fast Falls the Night comes from Bell and Sher­iff ’s Deputy Jake Oakes. Bell’s sense of jus­tice and de­sire to make her home­town a bet­ter place pro­pels her daily, both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.

The 24-hour time frame im­bues a sense of ur­gency to the plot as Keller shows the day’s events through var­i­ous points of views. Keller also avoids the pit­falls of the TV drama 24, in which Jack Bauer raced across Los An­ge­les in min­utes. Here, a cop re­ally can quickly make it across town.

Sour­dough Robin Sloan Far­rar, Straus and Giroux

Since best­selling au­thor Robin Sloan has al­ready proven him­self wor­thy in the ad­ven­ture genre, he re­cently moved on to writ­ing about an­other topic many love: food. In his sec­ond novel, Sloan serves his au­di­ence a culi­nary de­light in Sour­dough.

Lois Clary works end­less hours as a soft­ware en­gi­neer. Day af­ter day, it’s the same rou­tine: work, skip lunch, work some more, lament over the lack of a so­cial life and or­der the ab­so­lute best spicy soup and sand­wich from Clement Street for din­ner.

When the own­ers of Clement Street are forced to leave the coun­try due to visa is­sues, Lois is baf­fled to learn that they have gifted her, their favourite cus­tomer, with their sour­dough starter. Lois barely uses her kitchen.

The good news is that all the starter needs is a lit­tle flour and wa­ter, as well as a sound sys­tem to play the starter’s favourite mu­sic from the spe­cial CD thrust into Lois’ hands along with a ce­ramic crock of grey glop. Af­ter a few hours of sour­dough re­search, Lois finds her starter bub­bling, singing and even emit­ting strange smells. She is floored when her first two loaves turn out beau­ti­fully.

Sud­denly Lois must de­cide be­tween her sta­ble, yet dull, job as a soft­ware en­gi­neer or a new ad­ven­ture as a nat­u­rally gifted bread maker.

Sour­dough is the story we all se­cretly dream about. Could we leave our mun­dane lives and take a leap of faith in the di­rec­tion of our new-found pas­sion? Sloan takes read­ers on a thought­pro­vok­ing jour­ney to an­swer that ques­tion.

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