Friday, May 31, 2013

Start your weekend off right with these great bestsellers.

Damascus Countdown by Joel C. Rosenberg

From Barnes & Noble –

The first reports indicated that the Israeli strikes were successful: Iran's nuclear warheads had been taken out and, like it or not, the world was now a safer place. But CIA operative David Shirazi knows that, if anything, the dangers have escalated: His undercover sources tell him that two armed missiles somehow survived the attack and no one, not even him, can yet know when and where they will be flying. A Middle East thriller you won't easily forget.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Kirkus Reviews –

A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness. Paul, the narrator of this caustic tale, initially appears to be an accomplished man who's just slightly eccentric and prone to condescension: As he and his wife prepare for a pricey dinner with his brother and sister-in-law, he rhetorically rolls his eyes at wait staff, pop culture and especially his brother, a rising star in the Dutch political world. The mood is mysteriously tense in the opening chapters, as the foursome talk around each other, and Paul's contempt expands. The source of the anxiety soon becomes evident: Paul's teenage son, along with Paul's brother's children, was involved in a violent incident, and though the videos circulating on TV and YouTube are grainy, there's a high risk they'll be identified. The formality of the meal is undone by the parents' desperate effort to keep a lid on the potential scandal: Sections are primly titled "Aperitif," "Appetizer" and so on, but Koch deliberately sends the narrative off-menu as it becomes clear that Paul's anxiety is more than just a modest personality tic, and the foursome's high-toned concerns about justice and egalitarianism collapse into unseemly self-interest. The novel can be ineffectually on the nose when it comes to discussions of white guilt and class, the brothers' wives are thin characters, and scenes meant to underscore Paul's madness have an unrealistic vibe that show Koch isn't averse to a gratuitous, melodramatic shock or two. Even so, Koch's slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he's opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them. At its best, a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson Series #7) by Patricia Briggs

From Barnes & Noble –

Mercy Thompson's new mate Adam Hauptman is missing—and that's just the beginning of the bad news for this resourceful shapeshifter. Adam's daughter and his entire werewolf pack have also been abducted and Mercy suspects the kidnappings are political sabotage, but she feels as if she had nowhere to turn for help. Well, almost nowhere: There are the vampire seethe. The breakthrough seventh installment of a bestselling series in our stores and online.

Insane City by Dave Barry

Kirkus Reviews –

Hangovers, bridesmaids, Haitian refugees and rogue primates run amok in Miami. Big, goofy comedy in the vein of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey doesn't come by as often as most readers would like and neither do straight-up novels by the likes of Barry (Lunatics, 2012, etc.). So, to have two entries by the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist in a single year is momentous. For this (nominally) adult-oriented novel, Barry returns to the broad strokes and over-the-top characters that marked early novels Big Trouble and Tricky Business. Seth Weinstein is a good-hearted, unambitious professional tweeter on the verge of marrying up to Tina Clark, a wealthy debutante whose affection for Seth is largely based on his sense of humor. Seth's "Groom Posse" has loaded up for his bachelor party with the traditional elements of booze, strippers and a complete lack of common sense, starting by stocking his baggage with sex toys. Back at the hotel, Tina and her sister Meghan work with wedding planners and try to reel in the Posse's antics while her father, a member of a secret cabal called The Group of Eleven, conspires to join the even more exclusive Group of Six. "So you're not bleeding from the head and hanging out with a Beyoncé look-alike and a Jerry Springer bouncer carrying a large snake?" Tina asks--it's one of those weekends. Despite the adult content, Barry keeps the humor good-naturedly bawdy while simultaneously throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. While the Groom Posse are standard fare from every bachelor-party film you've ever seen, the supporting cast is inspired insanity. Among the subjects of Barry's whacked-out character studies are Hot Bod competitor Cyndi, who takes a shine to Seth; wedding planner Blaze Gear, with assistants Traci and Tracee in tow; an angry, expensive stripper and her gargantuan pimp; a Haitian family on the run; and a rogue orangutan named Trevor. Yes, really. Utterly familiar but funny.

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