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Check It Out

Courier Article by David Locker
Sunday, May 25, 2003

Books Offer Way to Cool Down Dog Days of Summer

Early summer is my favorite time of year. I always manage to steal some time on the weekends for swimming, walking and reading outside in the shade. The book is a wonderfully portable technology that can be read anywhere, and the back yard under a patio umbrella with a sunny sky is as good as anywhere.

However, it is an unfortunate fact that as the summer progresses it gets too hot to be outside, and then reading in front of the air conditioner is the place to be. The Evansville Public Library celebrates these dog days of summer with reading programs for adults, young adults and children.Some of the adult titles are highlighted here. I owe these descriptions to the reader's advisers throughout our library system who read and enjoyed them.

City of Bones by Michael Connelly (Warner, 2003).

Detective Harry Bosch is an ethical man who operates in a system that is not particularly ethical. He is an unjaded Vietnam vet who really loves his job and is a team player who doesn't try to solve the crime by himself. The case begins with a dog discovering the long-buried bone of a child killed 20 years ago.

Bosch has to depend heavily on forensic evidence, which is explained clearly by Connelly. There are several false leads, which keep us guessing, and the ending is superb.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (Pocket, 2001).

The detective of this Vatican thriller is Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. He is called to Rome to analyze a cryptic symbol seared onto the chest of a murdered physicist. He finds out that an ancient evil organization called the Illuminati is responsible.

Soon cardinals and priests are dropping like flies, and Langdon and a beautiful and mysterious female physicist are frantically trying to find a bomb planted in the Vatican during the election of the next pope. If you like thrillers, Dan Brown is someone you will definitely want to check out.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Perennial, 1998). Zora Neale Hurston died in obscurity in 1960 in Florida.

In the 1970s, Alice Walker rediscovered this novel, and it owes a good deal of its visibility to her. At the time of its publication, it was disparaged by African- American critics for reinforcing black stereotypes, probably because of its use of black dialect.

Those critics were wrong-- this is a wonderful book that you will never forget. Janie tells the story of the whole novel in one sitting to her old friends when she returns to her hometown. She recounts her trials and tribulations, which include a hurricane and a husband afflicted with rabies. This is a short book that has much in it to savor.

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (Hyperion, 2001).

Gold hypothesizes that President Warren G. Harding died right after attending a magic show presented by Charles Carter, a.k.a. Carter the Great. Naturally, the FBI accuses Carter of his death.

This is fiction, but it is difficult here to tell what is fiction and what is fact. Gold's alternate-history novel is really an intricate magic trick.

Clay's Quilt by Silas House (Ballantine, 2001).

The author is a mail carrier in eastern Kentucky. His novel is set in contemporary Appalachia and features the coming of age of an orphan, Clay, whose parents had been murdered when he was very young.

Clay's life is like the quilt his great uncle sews. It is a collection of pieces, some tragic and some uplifting. At one point he must shoot someone in self-defense, but he makes a life for himself as a coal miner and father. Sustained by the local church, he puts the pieces of his life together.

These are just a few of the good reads waiting for you if you choose to participate in this year's summer reading program. See your local library for details.

David Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.