Author and NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan, who last month offered a summer reading book list came back to Fresh Air yesterday with four more suggestions, this time suspense novels she says are all “deadly accurate in their aim to entertain.”
First up is Innocence; Or, Murder on Steep Street (Soho; OverDrive Sample) by Heda Margolius Kovaly, translated by Alex Zucker. Kovaly is a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and communist rule in Czechoslovakia. She died in 2010, leaving behind a number of works including this novel set in 1950s Prague, just a few years after the close of WWII. It centers on a movie theater usher trying desperately to save her husband who has been imprisoned and accused of espionage. Corrigan says “the great draw is the menacing view it gives us of communist Prague.”
S.J. Watson’s Second Life (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), also featured in this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review, is Corrigan’s second pick. She calls it a “nuanced” and “erotic psychological thriller.” The story follows a woman who falls down the rabbit hole of the “online demimonde.” Corrigan promises readers will never see the end coming.
The third pick is Run You Down (Macmillan/Minotaur; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) by Julia Dahl, (following Dahl’s Edgar-nominated debut, Invisible City). It again features the reporter Rebekah Roberts as the central character, who is once again drawn into the world of Hasidic Jews – this time when she starts poking into the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, N.Y. where a woman has been found dead in a bathtub. Corrigan ends her summary with this useful take: “Though the plot becomes a bit formulaic at the end, Dahl is an evocative writer, never more so than when she’s describing the nascent yearnings of those younger members of that religious community — gay, vaguely feminist, simply different — who can’t quite fit in, but can’t quite leave.”
Closing out her picks is The Last Taxi Ride (Macmillan/Minotaur; OverDrive Sample) by A.X. Ahmad, the follow-up to The Caretaker. Here Ranjit Singh, an ex-army captain and Sikh immigrant from India, has become a taxi driver and is accused of murdering a Bollywood film icon. In her summary of what it feels like to read the book Corrigan offers the very high praise, that in a period when “we’ve lost both P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, it’s cheering to stumble upon an emerging detective like Ranjit, who feels utterly authentic and original.”