Buckley's 'Invisible' is enthralling drama
"Invisible" (Bantam), by Carla Buckley
Family bonds unravel and a horrible secret tears sisters apart in Carla Buckley's enthralling new drama, "Invisible."
What secret would be horrible enough to cause two sisters who love each other deeply not to speak for 16 years? Dana regrets not patching up things with Julie, but now it's too late. Julie's daughter, Peyton, calls Dana with the news that Julie is dying of kidney failure. Dana rushes home to be with her sister, but Julie dies before she arrives.
The small town where the sisters grew up hasn't changed much, except that everyone has gotten older -- and they hold grudges. Dana decides to stay in town and make amends. Julie's husband wants her to leave, and Peyton wants nothing to do with her. The secret that Dana holds is too painful to reveal -- even with her sister gone -- and a chance for redemption seems impossible.
The vivid characters provide a spark of realism to this engrossing and sad tale. The secret is obvious from the first page of "Invisible," but that doesn't matter overall. Subplots involving a dead body at a construction site and the source of Julie's kidney disease provide mystery but are secondary to what makes this novel truly sing: family dynamics.
Buckley writes beautiful prose, and fans of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Unger will enjoy this journey with the author.
'Two Graves' is exceptional thriller
"Two Graves" (Grand Central), by Preston & Child
The names Preston & Child on the cover of a book promise a unique reading experience unlike any other, and "Two Graves" delivers the high thrills one expects from the two masters.
A good thriller forces the reader to finish the book in one sitting. An exceptional thriller does that plus forces the reader to slow down to savor every word. With "Two Graves," authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have delivered another exceptional book.
The novel is the conclusion of a trilogy that started with "Fever Dream" and last year's "Cold Vengeance," though one could easily pick up this book and not feel lost. The protagonist, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, has none of the usual qualities that make a hero. He's addicted to drugs, socially inept and has the appearance of a living ghost. But he has the most brilliant mind imaginable, and his keen insight and ability to think outside the box are desperately needed to solve a bizarre string of murders occurring in New York City hotels. He's just learned that his wife, long presumed dead, is alive. The hunt for answers to the murders and what happened to his wife take Pendergast to the edge of his sanity -- and career.
The gothic atmosphere that oozes from the pages of "Two Graves" will envelop the reader in a totally unique experience. Pendergast is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, quirks and all, who would live more comfortably in the past but must suffer through the inconveniences that living in the 21st century brings. The mystery tantalizes, and the shocks throughout the narrative are like bolts of lightning.
Fans will love the conclusion to the trilogy, and newcomers will seek out the authors' earlier titles.
'Political Suicide' won't disappoint
"Political Suicide" (St. Martin's Press), by Michael Palmer
Michael Palmer brings back his doctor-hero, Lou Welcome, from "Oath of Office," to help a friend involved in a huge scandal in his new novel, "Political Suicide."
Palmer writes terrific medical suspense, and he has thrown political intrigue into the mix with his last few books. While "Political Suicide" relies more on the thrills and the mystery, it still resonates.
Welcome receives a call from Dr. Gary McHugh. McHugh has been battling alcoholism, and Welcome has been his counselor and trusted confidante. McHugh needs help. He had just visited a congressman on the House Armed Services Committee and woke up with his car wrapped around a tree. The medics on the scene believe he's drunk. To make matters worse, the congressman is found murdered in his garage, and McHugh was the last person to see him alive. Then the news leaks that McHugh was having an affair with the congressman's wife.
Welcome investigates and soon believes that his friend did commit the horrible crime. Then he finds evidence of a conspiracy that has terrifying ramifications for the United States and its political future.
Palmer's novels also examine particular issues and causes, but to mention the subplot in "Political Suicide" that discusses a decidedly moral dilemma would be criminal -- and would give away a huge chunk of the surprises that follow.
Fans won't be disappointed, and Palmer can add another best-seller to his list.
-- JEFF AYERS