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Click to search this book in our catalog The Boys From Biloxi
by John Grisham

Kirkus Friends turn foes in this Mississippi mix of courtroom and crime. In 1960, 12-year-olds Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco are Little League fast-balling all stars and great friends in the Gulf Coast city of Biloxi, Mississippi. They’d love to make it to the big leagues one day, but alas, this story isn’t Field of Dreams. The lads’ lives diverge dramatically: Keith studies hard at Ole Miss, becomes an attorney, and sets up a law practice, while Hugh thrives in a seedy underworld of strip joints, honky-tonks, prostitution, and “unchecked vice” along “the poor man’s Riviera.” The Category 5 Hurricane Camille flattens Biloxi in 1969 and gives Keith many clients from cheated insurance policyholders. Unfortunately, Camille doesn’t clean up the local underworld so much as rearrange it. So Keith decides to run for district attorney and put criminals behind bars. At first, corrupt county sheriff Fats Bowman isn’t worried. “Need I remind you,” he tells his gang, “that the graveyard is full of politicians who promised to clean up the Coast?” But he and Hugh soon feel the heat from Keith, and they fight back hard. Plenty of murders stoke the story’s engine, naturally leading to courthouse scenes where the author excels. But how far will Hugh Malco go to keep Biloxi dirty and profitable? He wouldn’t try to hurt his old pal, would he? This is a multigenerational tale also starring Keith’s and Hugh’s fathers, Jesse and Lance. Perhaps because the novel spans decades, a lot of material feels like summary—readers quickly learn that many residents are of Croatian descent, and there are barely enough mentions of Black people to acknowledge their existence. The interpersonal dynamics make the story, because attentive readers will suss where the plot is going from a country mile away. For one thing, it’s a straight line save for one humongous surprise. But the author is always an engaging storyteller even when he could add another twist or two. Not vintage Grisham but still a worthy yarn. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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Click to search this book in our catalog Drowning Ruth
by Christina Schwarz

Library Journal: Why did Ruth's mother, Mathilda, drown on that fateful night in 1919 and Ruth survive? That is the central question that this novel sets out to answer. Mathilda's sister, Amanda, who has been nursing soldiers in Milwaukee (it is right after World War I), has returned to the family farm in rural Wisconsin. Mathilda and Ruth are there to help her return to a normal life. Yet a year later, Mathilda's husband returns from the war to find his wife drowned and his sister-in-law raising his daughter. So continues the tale through 1941, as we watch Ruth grow up and try to remember what happened that winter night. Along the way, Ruth befriends Imogene, who has a closer connection to the family than Ruth can imagine. The story is recounted partly through flashback and moves from first-person to third-person narrative. What results is a gripping tale of sisterly rivalry, family loyalty, and secret histories. Already optioned for a film by Miramax, to be directed by Wes Craven, this first novel is an engrossing read. Recommended for all public libraries.

Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: "Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale. Agent, Jennifer R. Walsh at the Writers Shop. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Teen People and Mango Book Club main selections; film rights optioned by Miramax, Wes Craven to direct; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, the U.K., Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. (Aug.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal: YA-A wonderfully constructed gothic suspense novel set on a stark Wisconsin farm in 1919. The story goes backward and forward in time and is told by Amanda, her niece Ruth, and an omniscient narrator. The ties that bind the two women are as fragile as they are fierce and have their origin in the relationship of two sisters, Amanda and her sister Mattie, Ruth's mother. The narrative begins with Amanda as she recounts her childhood and the responsibility she came to feel for her younger sister and the parents who favored her younger sibling. Amanda finally wrests herself away from home to become a nurse, but her independence is short-lived. Overwhelmed and sickened by the care of the wounded, and heartsick over the love of a married man, she suffers a nervous breakdown and seeks solace by returning to the farm to help Mattie care for her tiny daughter as they await the return of Mattie's husband from World War I. But tragedy follows with Mattie's mysterious drowning during a winter blizzard and guilty lies soon engulf Amanda and threaten to change the lives of several others in the small rural community. A compelling complex tale of psychological mystery and maddeningly destructive provincial attitudes.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Fairfax, VA

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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