Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2012: Pam W.’s Picks

I like to read from just about every section of the library, although I am especially partial to mysteries. I also tend to re-read books that I have enjoyed a lot. This list covers a little of everything and includes books I discovered for the first time this year as well as a few favorites I read for the second (or third) time. — Pam W.

The Last Child by John Hart
Johnny Merrimon was only 13 when his twin sister went missing. He has never given up the belief that she was alive somewhere but no one seems to be looking for her anymore, so Johnny decides to find her himself. What Johnny doesn’t know is that the officer in charge of the investigation has also never given up on Alyssa. He is keeping an eye on Johnny as well to make sure nothing happens to him. When another child disappears, Johnny and Detective Clyde Hunt find themselves mixed up with the worst elements of their town. This was an absolutely riveting book and the best one by Hart so far.

Magic Time by Doug Marlette
Marlette tells two stories in this book, one set in the racially charged days of 1964, and one set in the present day. Carter Ransom has gone back to his hometown in Mississippi after suffering a break down, only to find an event from his past has come back to haunt him. In 1964 several civil rights workers were killed in when a church was burned down. Carter’s girlfriend at the time was one of those killed. To complicate matters, Carter’s father was the presiding judge in the trial of the man accused of this crime. The trial took place in the 1980’s and the man was not convicted, but the trial is now being reexamined. Bringing up the past is painful, and possible dangerous, for everyone who was involved.

When I Married My Mother: A Daughter’s Search for What Really Matters-and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo by Jo Maeder
Jo Maeder had lived in New York City for years when she found out that her mother was ill. The two had not been in contact for a number of years and Maeder was appalled when she found out the horrible living conditions her mother had been reduced to. Her mother was suffering from dementia and had been hoarding so much stuff you could barely walk in her house. Maeder did not know how they would get along living together, she only knew that she had to take care of her, so she left her job and moved in with her mother down south in the Bible belt. Her “marriage” to her mother truly changed her life. Maeder’s story is not new, but her story is told with humor and true compassion. I found it very compelling and not depressing at all.

Faithful Place by Tana French
French’s series about the Dublin murder squad is different than many mystery series’. Instead of following one detective through a number of different investigations, French switches focus in each book. Faithful Place, the third book in the series, is my favorite. It follows Detective Frank Mackey as he investigates a body found in an old building in the neighborhood he grew up in. When he was a young man, his girlfriend disappeared on the night they were going to run away together and Frank always thought she left without him. Now, he finds out she was murdered, and he is determined to find out who did it. This is fascinating look at family dynamics and loyalties.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
Fans of All Creatures Great and Small or Maeve Binchy’s books will love this book set in Northern Ireland in the 1960’s. Barry Laverty has just finished medical school and has taken a job in the small town of Ballybucklebo, which is so small it barely shows up on the maps. He is not sure what to make of his new boss, who seems very gruff and old fashioned. He also finds the locals eccentric and difficult to understand. Gradually, Barry starts to fit in and learn how closely everyone in the town cares for one another. This is a heartwarming story told with lots of humor.

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