Terrific Short Reads

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon

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Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

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The End of the Affair

By Graham Greene

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The novelist Maurice Bendrix's love affair with his friend's wife, Sarah, had begun in London during the Blitz. One day, inexplicably and without warning, Sarah had broken off the relationship. It seemed impossible that there could be a rival for her heart. Yet two years later, driven by obsessive jealousy and grief, Bendrix sends Parkis, a private detective, to follow Sarah and find out the truth.

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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 Girl in the Glass

By Jeffrey Ford

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"The Great Depression has bound a nation in despair -- and only a privileged few have risen above it: the exorbitantly wealthy ... and the hucksters who feed upon them. Diego, a seventeen-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant, owes his salvation to master grifter Thomas Schell. Together with Schell's gruff and powerful partner, they sail comfortably through hard times, scamming New York's grieving rich with elaborate, ingeniously staged séances -- until an impossible occurrence changes everything.

"While 'communing with spirits,' Schell sees an image of a young girl in a pane of glass, silently entreating the con man for help. Though well aware that his otherworldly 'powers' are a sham, Schell inexplicably offers his services to help find the lost child -- drawing Diego along with him into a tangled maze of deadly secrets and terrible experimentation."

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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

By Tennessee Williams

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It is the story of a wealthy, fiftyish American widow, recently a famous stage beauty, but now 'drifting.' The novel opens soon after her husband's death and her retirement from the theater, as Mrs. Stone tries to adjust to her aimless new life in Rome.

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The Story of a Nobody

By Anton Chekhov

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With St. Petersburg awash with extravagant, dissolute bureaucrats concerned only with increasing their vast riches, a secret movement infiltrates one of its members into one such household.

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The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James

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A governess battles to save the souls of her two young charges from evil spirits.

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Tortilla Flat

By John Steinbeck

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Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. As Steinbeck chronicles their thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts, he spins a tale as compelling, and ultimately as touched by sorrow, as the famous legends of the Round Table.
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