Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Readin'

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The heat at the heart of this socio-scientific conflict isn't nearly as oppressive as the summer temps that have already invaded much of the country. And the humidity! It's as sticky a massage session with John Travolta.

To that end, it is high time to think about those vernal literary gems with which we while away many a scorcher.

To be honest, there has been precious few items on my horizon as of late, so I have gone back through my little black book to seek out some past summer flings. Among these would be anything by the combinative genius of Preston and Child who take intelligent thrillers to new heights with the Holmesian protagonist, FBI agent A. X. L. Pendergast and his strange, Addams-esque world. My favorite on a hot, dry day when boredom settles like dust across a parched landscape would be Still Life With Crows. In this adventure, Pendergast finds himself stalking a serial killer through the parched landscape of western Kansas, against a backdrop of Indian legends and small town secrets.

I would also recommend the pair's Thunderhead, which follows Nora Kelly's journey to discover a lost Anasazi city and the fate of her father through the mysterious and vast Canyonlands of Utah. Native American witches, fascinating archaeology, and cinematic writing make this taut, intelligent thriller something of a movie for the mind. Summer reading at its best.

Caleb Carr's The Alienist is a smart thrill ride through 19th Century New York city as a unique team of detectives attempts to unravel the mind of a killer.

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