Spice of Life: Books to Savor

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection

By Michael Chabon

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"In deep retirement in the English country-side, an eighty-nine-year-old man, vaguely recollected by locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out--a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts perhaps? Or something more sinister? Is the solution to this last case -- the real explanation of the mysterious boy and his parrot--beyond even the reach of the once-famed sleuth?"

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The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini

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Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.

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The Muse Asylum

By David Czuchlewski

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"The lives of three recent Princeton graduates--Jake Burnett, a reporter for a small Manhattan weekly; Andrew Wallace, a troubled genius convinced of worldwide conspiracies and cover-ups; and Lara Knowles, ex-girlfriend to both--weave together in a search to uncover the identity of the reclusive master of the modern novel, Horace Jacob Little.  A violent act lands Andrew in the Overlook Psychiatric Institute, also known as the Muse Asylum, a haven for the artistically gifted with mental illness. He spends his days working on his autobiography, the story of the Horace Jacob Little conspiracy, and his own efforts to protect his true love, Lara, from the dangerous author. But when Jake--trying to make a name for himself by unmasking Horace Jacob Little--goes to visit Andrew, he finds himself caught in a game of cat and mouse, where victim becomes stalker and hunter becomes prey.

"After Jake inadvertently sets him onto the trail of the author, Andrew spirals deeper into madness. And only then does Jake fathom the author's secret, and the lengths to which Horace Jacob Little will go to protect it.  Part love story and part journey into the psychology of genius, The Muse Asylum is a tale of stunning reversals and reflections in a world where things are never quite what they seem."

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The New York Trilogy: City of Glass: Ghosts: The Locked Room

By Paul Auster

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"Paul Auster’s great trilogy of 1985–1986 broke ground in its mix of serious fictional techniques and detective and mystery genres. Since that time it has become one of the most successful series of novels of the last decades..."

In the first of the trilogy, City of Glass, a detective novelist makes a phone call and finds himself enmeshed in suddenly puzzling reality.

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The Orchard on Fire

By Shena Mackay

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“Set in the small English village of Stonebridge in the Fifties, this is the story of eight-year-old April Harlency's coming of age in a place where the charm of the local landscape contrasts sharply with the prejudices, vicious gossip, and vagaries of what we would now call child abuse. As the Harlency family moves from their rented rooms to run the Copper Kettle Tearoom (poorly), their ex-landlord hangs a notice on the window: 'No Blacks. No Irish. No Pets.'

"April befriends the red-headed, energetic Ruby who lives above her parents' butcher shop where, as April says, 'I learned the fate of Pansy Pig and all her pink litter and burst into tears.' The two girls form an immediate and fast friendship. April also befriends the lonely Mr. Greenridge who presses his unwanted sexual advances on her. To escape the pressures of daily life, April and Ruby find a hideaway in the middle of an orchard where, together, they build the 'camp of our dreams.'"

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The Sparrow

By Mary Doria Russell

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The Sparrow is a novel about a remarkable man, a living saint, a life-long celibate and Jesuit priest, who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience--the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life--begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

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The World According to Garp

By John Irving

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"Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis." -- Publisher's description

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