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.