July 13, 2010

This week we're featuring a full length review of a great new summer read, Dan Fesperman's Layover in Dubai. Before making with the review I want to mention a special offer for our Weekly Top Two readers. Since no sensible person can consider ignoring anything to do with Stieg Larrson's Millennium trilogy we have acquired a small number of the exceptionally good movie version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which we're offering to our readers at 20% off. Just email us to have a copy held.

We watch a disaster movie to see disasters of course, cities falling into the ocean, giant asteroids hitting National Landmarks, and so forth, and if a disaster movie delivers enough unthwarted asteroids and untimely seismic shifts, then everything else, credible dialogue, good acting, a plot, is all a plus. Dan Fesperman is a writer who delivers thrillers with a plus. His book are thrilling, so that's covered, but his careful research,  his eye for historical detail and interesting social and cultural divisions, have always left his readers with a richer understanding of the settings of his books. All of Fesperman's strengths are on display in his latest novel, Layover in Dubai.

Dubai is a fascinating setting, of course, the incredible pace of development, the stark economic and social contrasts are truly dizzying. The novel has two central protagonists, Sam Keller, a straight laced, talented young auditor for a US based multinational pharmaceutical corporation, and Anwar Sharaf, an aging Dubai detective. Keller and Sharaf are brought together by their shared integrity, and the fact that their respective colleagues have been collaborating with the Russian and Iranian underworld to develop a scheme involving the importation of young Iraqi girls for the Dubai Sex trade. Keller has been set up and Sharaf offers him a way out. The story is enriched by the complexity of Sharaf's life, his traditional values counter posed by the economic benefits he has received as an Emirati, a native of Dubai, along with his intelligent and independent minded daughter. Fesperman also offers a view into the dichotomies surrounding the life of women in Dubai as seen through the sex trade and through a women's shelter there, Keller's time spent hiding out as an itinerant worker in a labor camp, also accentuates the human costs of development in Dubai.

My one quibble with Fesperman's past works has been that some of his characters have been a bit too stock and wooden in their construction. With Layover in Dubai he has found a more nuanced chord. I have found myself genuinely caring for the characters and pulling for them in the book. Another strength here is the spare plot, almost as though Fesperman were playing a game with limited pieces. The result is very effective. One can feel that the author is getting the most out of every scene, and the reader's interest never flags. For example, though neither Keller nor Sharaf would be credible as action heroes, and the exciting conclusion of the book manages to be both believable and affecting. Anyone looking for more than just an a la carte thriller which will find Layover in Dubai to be a soup to nuts reading experience indeed.

Here they are! Our weekly picks for the two best: two hardcover, two paperback, and two children's books. The very best new arrivals to leap out of the box and onto our shelves this week. Call or email us if you want more information on any of these titles, or to have us hold you a copy. Or stop in and check them out in person. We'd love to see you. Thanks as always for sharing your reading with us!

 

Faithful Place

Faithful Place
By French, Tana
2010-07 - Viking Books
9780670021871 - Hardcover
List Price $25.95 - Your Price: $20.76


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The Third novel in Tana French's Dublin murder mysteries is out today. Early reviews have been phenomenal! ...More

Corduroy Mansions



Corduroy Mansions
By McCall Smith, Alexander
2010-07 - Pantheon Books
9780307379085 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $24.95 - Your Price: $19.96


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Alexander McCall Smith, who has been duking it out with James Patterson for the title of Most Prolific Living Author, has, amazingly, launched another new series set in London. It follows the diverse characters living in a mansion block in the neighborhood of Pimlico. Noteworthy also is the extremely cute dog on the cover who figures prominently in Corduroy Mansion affairs. ...More

Red Hook Road



Red Hook Road
By Waldman, Ayelet
2010-07 - Doubleday Books
9780385517867 - Hardcover   See Other Formats
List Price $25.95 - Your Price: $20.76


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Set on the Maine Coast, gifted novelist and humorist Waldeman follows four couples dealing with the sudden, tragic death of a bride and groom killed in a car accident driving away from their wedding. ...More

The Passage of the Week!
 
The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon



The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon
By Defoe, Gideon
2010-07 - Vintage Books USA
9780307274922 - Paperback   See Other Formats
List Price $13.95 - Your Price: $11.16


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Pirate Adventure fans rejoice The Pirate in an Adventure with Napolean is out in paperback today. It feautures the Pirqte Captain's titanic clash with Napolean on the island of St. Helena. You can listen to my rendering of their painting duel by clicking on... The Passage of the Week!. ...More

Linger

Linger
By Stiefvater, Maggie
2010-07 - Scholastic Press
9780545123280 - Hardcover
List Price $17.99 - Your Price: $14.39


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The sequel to Steifvater's well written and suspenseful werewolf novel Shiver is out today. ...More

Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers



Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers
By Dunning, John Harris
2010-07 - Candlewick Press (MA)
9780763647353 - Hardcover
List Price $18.99 - Your Price: $15.19


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This is a tuly exceptional new graphic novel. Indeed, Watchmen author Alan Moore, who is very stinting in his praise, said of Salem Brownstone "Wonderfully imaginative and stylish. . . . A perfect example of the adventurous new directions that comic books should be taking in the future." ...More

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