Best novels for this fall

TWO

The Ruined House: A Novel by Ruby Namdar, HarperCollins Publishers, US 29.99, Pp 516, November 2017, ISBN 978-0062467492

After the Fire by Henning Mankell/translated by Marlaine Delargy, Vintage Books, US $16.95, Pp 416, October 2017, ISBN 978-0525435082

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly, Little, Brown, and Company, US $29, Pp 408, October 2017, ISBN 978-0316225908

The Ruined House is set in New York and unfolds in an early twenty-first century over the course of one year. It captures the contemporary intellectual life. Andrew P. Cohen, a professor of comparative culture at New York University, is at the zenith of his personal and professional life. His students adore him and he has published in prestigious literary magazines. He and his family — his wife and two grown-up children – live a happy life. He also has a girlfriend who is a former student half his age. A man of elevated taste, education, and culture, he is a model of urbanity and success. He has been promised a coveted promotion when a series of strange visions start visiting him. The visions involve an ancient religious ritual. It seems it is the end of the world for him. The semi-opaque “other” narrative is the key to understand his life. The Ruined House explores the role and meaning of tradition and faith in a materialist world. Although the novel is apparently about midlife crisis, Ruby Namdar raises several questions about the life we are afraid to answer in real life. It may just be the story of any thinking man like the reader who has questions but is afraid of looking answers. It is equally about the crisis American Jewry faces. It is beautifully written and will absorb all your attention in first few minutes as you start reading it.

Ruby Namdar was born in an Iranian Jewish family in Jerusalem. His first book, Haviv (2000) won the Israeli Ministry of Culture’s Award for Best First Publications. The Ruined House won the 2014 Sapir Prize – Israel’s most prestigious literary award. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters. He teaches Jewish literature, focusing on biblical and Talmudic narrative.

*****

Fredrik Welin is a retired surgeon who lives on a tiny island off the coast of Sweden. He is the only resident on that island. His daughter rarely visits him. The only person he sees fairly regularly is his mailman. He is apparently happy with his lonely life. On an early autumn evening, his house catches fire while he is asleep. Luckily, he escapes the fire but the house is reduced to ashes. He now has to live in an abandoned trailer on the island. When local journalist Lisa Modin visits him to do a story about the fire, she awakens in him something that was long dead. Police investigators start suspecting him of arson as they don’t find any evidence of somebody else doing it. Interestingly, another house on the archipelago catches fire while he is away from the archipelago. This awakens the community to the possibility of an arsonist in the community. After the Fire, Henning Mankell’s last novel is the story of a man who had been forced to live as a recluse. After the Fire appears to be a sequel to Henning Mankell’s earlier novel The Italian Shoes. The main character in both these novels is an old recluse. In After the Fire, Mankell explores what it means to be lonely in old age and the importance of family and relationships (in old age), love and death. Many readers will find it their own story.

Henning Mankell’s novels have been translated into forty-five languages and have sold more than forty million copies worldwide. He was the first winner of the Ripper Award and also received the Glass Key and the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger, among other awards. During his life, Mankell divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique, where he was artistic director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. He died in 2015.

*****

Harry Bosch is working with the San Fernando Police Department as a detective. When a young pharmacist is murdered, Harry Bosch is called out to the local store where the murder took place. Bosch leads a 3-person detective squad to investigate the murder. The investigating team finds the clues that lead to the dangerous, big business world of pill mills and prescription abuse. Soon, he found himself implicated in an old corruption case from his days at the Los Angeles Police Department. A long-imprisoned killer claims that Harry Bosch had framed him and he has acquired new evidence to prove that. Harry Bosch was not very happy when he was working for the Los Angeles Police Department as a volunteer. His former Los Angeles Police Department colleagues refuse to help him. He has to fight to clear himself and keep the killer in prison. Soon he finds that the two seemingly unrelated cases wind around each other like strands of barbed wire. As Harry Bosch resolves the mystery, he discovers that there are two kinds of truth: the kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried in darkness. In Two Kinds of Truth, two story-plots run side by side and Michael Connelly expertly weaves them into one story. Two Kinds of Truth is full of suspense. You will remain absorbed in the novel as you read it breathlessly. Michael Connelly is an amazing mystery writer.

Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of twenty-eight novels and one work of nonfiction. With over sixty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into thirty-nine foreign languages, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work.