Capsule reviews from some book club members

By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / June 2, 2009
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"The Worst Hard Time," by Timothy Egan. Serves as a chilling reminder of the intractability of Mother Nature when confronted by man's meddling in both our past and future.

"When a Crocodile Eats the Sun," by Peter Godwin. Provides a cathartic glimpse into the tragedies and triumphs of the author's family and the heroic struggle and nearly insurmountable obstacles encountered by citizens attempting to live a just life in Southern Africa.


"Flash Forward," by Robert J. Sawyer. A science-fiction story that explores many of the questions of time travel and has well-developed characters that you care about. Great storytelling with good science knowledge and speculation. We do find out what actually happens 20 years hence.

"Salt: A World History," by Mark Kurlansky. Interesting history of salt but should have been half the length.


"A Man in Full," by Tom Wolfe. We loved the part when the banker sweated out Charlie Croker, and he had "saddle bags."

"A Death in Belmont," by Sebastian Junger. The intriguing part of that book was the fact that Albert DeSalvo didn't confess to the murder in Belmont and why: Was it because he didn't want to let a black man go free or because he didn't do it?


"Continental Drift," by Russell Banks. Starts in a snow-covered parking lot in New Hampshire and ends on a boat transporting illegal immigrants off the coast of Florida. Banks describes diverse cultures and lives in settings ranging from rural New Hampshire to sunny Florida to impoverished Haiti. He develops a plot that improbably intertwines these lives.

"The Rabbit Factory," by Larry Brown. Not for the faint of heart, but as with "Continental Drift," I found there was enough irony, dark humor, and wit to leaven any tragedy. The story follows an ex-con who works delivering meat in a truck that he also uses to transport illicit drugs. A chance accident with a deer leads to deadly encounters with officers of the law.


"Longitude," by Dava Sobel. A vividly written account of the science and politics of one person's quest to develop the technology to determine longitude at sea.

"The Devil in the White City," by Erik Larson. Tells the intertwined stories of two men, an architect and a serial killer, in turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago to illustrate how that setting provided opportunities to do great works, both good and evil.