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p29_n78-1_Clipart_Book_Cover_Setting Free the Kites by Alex George. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017. 324 pp.

This novel has so many tragedies it may sound as if it would be rather depressing but to me it was not. It also had joy and at times was so poignant

Robert, who was in seventh grade, lived in a rather run-down town far up the coast of Maine.  His father ran an amusement park, also run-down. And he had a brother, Liam, born with a degenerative disease, that would ultimately take his life. In spite of that, Liam was upbeat and lived his life as fully as he was able.

Into town came Nathan. They were totally opposite personalities. Robert was rather timid and quiet and Nathan was full of ideas for great adventures and ready to roll at any moment. But they became the best of friends. Right away though, Nathan’s father had a tragic accident and Nathan was left alone with his rather eccentric mother. Robert’s family was very supportive of Nathan and he spent a lot of time with them and became good friends with Liam.

It is a tale of the passage of teenage years and the good and the bad that happens and the memories of those years that always stay with you. George is a wonderful writer and uses words so well. I have been on the Maine coast many times and when he writes about the ocean, I can just see and hear and smell it.

  I lived in Colorado for a few years when I was in my thirties and my good friend was Kay. I was Robert to her Nathan and went nervously with her on her “great” but often flawed schemes Those are memories that I will always cherish.                            — C.M.

p29_n78-2_Clipart_Book_Cover_The Dry by Jane Harper. Flatiron Books 2016. 336 pp.

This novel takes place in Australia. The main character, Aaron Falk, is a federal agent in Melbourne. For twenty years he has not been back to the farming town, Kiewarra, where he grew up. It is a five hour drive from Melbourne. Then he learns some terrible news. A childhood friend, Luke Hadler and his wife and child have been murdered. Still, he does not plan to attend the funeral until he receives a letter demanding that he come.

The town of Kiewarra is in an area of terrible drought and the heat is nearly unbearable. The townspeople are bitter, feeling neglected by the government. The funeral is heart breaking, but since there are memories Aaron doesn’t want to revisit he is anxious to get back to Melbourne. But Luke’s parents beseech him to try to find out what really happened, although the local opinion is that it is an open and shut case. Aaron begins to realize that some details are very questionable and soon is very involved in the case. Suspense builds until the stunning revelation of the real killer.

This is a gripping mystery novel, hard to put down, although very sad at times. The author is a journalist, originally from the U.K. It is her first novel and has been an international best seller.              — P.M.

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