Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eighteen - Murder in the Rue de Paradis - Cara Black

What would you do if you woke up the morning after you were proposed to and your fiancee is dead?

Aimee Leduc finds herself in this exact position. She decides to investigate who killed Yves, her fiancee. As her investigation continues she begins to envail a terrorist cell that is targeting a local Muslem leader. Vatel, a security guard who "witnessed" Yves' murder, is threatened to provide information to the local police or loose his immigration papers.

Aimee stops an assination attempt of the Muslem leader and suddenly becomes a target herself. A photo journalist helping Aimee is murdered at the train station. Aimee meets Vartel who takes her to meet a famous Turkish novelist who explains how the IKK and Yellow Cresent - two radical groups - interact.

Black, Cara. Murder in the Rue de Paradis. Soho Crime (2008). 288 pages. ISBN 1569474745.
This book is number 8 in a long time running series, but I felt that I could easily jump into this story without knowing the backstory of the main character - Aimee Leduc. The plot is fast paced and brings in a modern twist with the Turk/French hosilities. Excellent book and kept my attention the whole time.

Seventeen - The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway

Bosnia - early 1990's - Siege of Sarajevo - Four stories - a cellist, a sniper and two villagers.

After seeing a complete square be flatten by a bomb, the cellist voes to play Albinoni's Adagio for 22 days straight - one day for each person killed. Arrow, the sniper, after trying to take out some soldiers watching the fortress of Vraca is assigned to protect the cellist and take out the enemy sniper. After reporting in that she completed her mission, the headquarters is bombed and her boss is killed.

Kenan, one of the villagers, navigates the streets to get fresh water from the brewery for his family and his elderly neighbor. The brewery is shelled and he barely makes it back across the bridge and to his family.

Dragan, the other villager, runs into his friend Emina while walking to work. As he starts to cross an intersection, he is almost hit by a sniper. As Emina starts to cross, she is hit by a sniper and taken to the local hospital.

Arrow, Kenan and Dragan end up hearing the cellist play on his last day.

Galloway, Steven. The Cellist of Sarajevo. Riverhead Hardcover (2008). 256 pages. ISBN 1594489866.
This book was a good intimate portrait of wartime conditions and how a person's priorities change. As I was reading this book - I felt like I was right there on the streets of Sarajevo. All of the characters dreamt of Sarajevo before the war and wanted to stay during the war even if that means they would die.

Many buildings were shelled during this standoff including the National Library. One Bosnian librarian described the scene as follows:

Twenty-five mortar shells struck the building, along with forty shells that were dropped on nearby streets in order to prevent the fire department from reaching the library…The next day the sky was dark with smoke, while across the city, pages and small bits of burned books sailed through the air…Over 1,200,000 books and 600,000 serials, as well as all the catalogs that had been constructed over the course of years, computer equipment, microfilm and photo labs, and
administrative documents, were all burned.
Researching some items for this blog post, I found that an excerpt from the book was posted on npr.org last December.

Sixteen - Saving Graces - Elizabeth Edwards

Saving Graces starts with Elizabeth finding a lump in her breast a few weeks before the end of the 2004 Presidential campaign. She explains how that discovery impacted both her and John.

Elizabeth lived wherever her father, a navy pilot, was stationed. She spent many years in Japan as well as Jacksonville, Florida and Annapolis, Maryland. She went to undergraduate school at University of Mary Washington and graduate school at University of North Carolina. At the end of the second year, Elizabeth decided to go law school and met John there. In 1977, they married during bar exam week.

A good portion of the book focuses on their son's unexpected death and how the family coped with that unfortunate accident. The last quarter of the book focuses on John's career in the Senate and eventually run for the presidency.

Edwards, Elizabeth. Saving Graces. Broadway (2006). 352 pages. ISBN 978-0767925372.
I admire Elizabeth Edwards immensely, but I had a hard time reading and relating to a big chunk of this book. I truly am amazed by her strength and courage to face her cancer head on as well as deciding to have more children after Wade died. Last August, Elizabeth and John made news again when he admitted to an affair during his 2008 Presidential campaign. I'm interested to read Elizabeth's second book, Resilience, which comes out in May and is supposed to address that affair.