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New novels from four of North Carolina's best writers

DGMartin
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D.G. Martin

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D.G. Martin

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Is the cold weather really over at last? And if the warmer season is here, what are some good books you should consider for your spring reading list?

Here are four recent novels from three of North Carolina’s most popular writers and a promising debut author, all of them featured on recent or upcoming North Carolina Bookwatch broadcasts.

When “Long Upon the Land” was published in 2015, North Carolina’s beloved mystery writer Margaret Maron, told us it was her final in her 20-book series featuring District Court Judge Deborah Knott, the daughter of a bootlegger and the wife of a deputy sheriff. Sadly, we said goodbye to Knott and to Maron’s story-telling talents.

Too soon.

Last year, we got a happy surprise. Although the Judge Knott series was over, Maron had one more novel to share.

“Take Out” is a murder mystery, the last in Maron’s nine-book Sigrid Harald series. She is a New York City police detective. Harald may not be as popular as Knott, but she has many fans.

The novel opens with the discovery of two dead men on a park bench in downtown Manhattan. Both had apparently been poisoned. But why? And by whom? Maron takes us all over the city to solve the mystery. Along the way, at a book fair, we meet a North Carolina bookseller who shares a name with the former owner of Quail Ridge Books, the late and beloved Nancy Olson.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Daniel Wallace’s recent “Extraordinary Adventures” may be his best novel. That is saying something because his “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions” delighted thousands even before it became a great movie.

In “Extraordinary Adventures,” he tells us the story of Edsel Bronfman, a 34-year-old socially awkward shipping clerk who wins a free vacation. There is only one condition — “you have to bring your spouse or partner or girlfriend.” Edsel’s crusade to find that partner makes for another wild, happy and troubling Daniel Wallace adventure.

Local governments on the coast are adopting resolutions opposing President Trump’s proposal to open the Atlantic waters to offshore oil drilling.

Master storyteller and UNC-Wilmington writing professor Phillip Gerard’s recent novel, “The Dark of the Island,” weaves a storyline that brings together German submarines and spying along our coastline and recent efforts to find and exploit oil deposits off those same shores.

Into this tapestry he blends other compelling themes such as complicated families, race, romance and the special history of the people of the Outer Banks.

The main character, Nick Wolf, is a researcher and publicist for the fictional NorthAm Oil Company, which is searching for oil off the North Carolina coast.

His grandfather was a German immigrant who died off the coast of Hatteras Island in 1942 reportedly while serving in the U.S. Merchant Marines, but possibly as a part of the German military.

In her debut novel “Maranatha Road,” attorney, mother and author Heather Bell Adams takes her readers to the North Carolina mountains where two women battle over the memory of a man each loved. The man’s mother, Sadie Caswell, mourns the loss of her son, who died shortly before his scheduled wedding. The other woman, Tinley Greene, is a young stranger, recently orphaned and alone. She now claims she is pregnant with the man’s child.

Adams sympathizes with both these characters. Like Tinley, Adams lost a parent while she was still in her teens. And she is now a mother like Sadie.

“Now that I’m a mother, I’m often struck by the fierce desire to shield our son from harm and unhappiness, especially knowing how arbitrary life can be. The character of Sadie first appeared to me as an older woman who sees that her adult son is headed for disaster, but she is powerless to stop it.”

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs at 11 a.m. Sundays and at 5 p.m. Thursdays on UNC-TV. This week’s  guest is Phillip Gerard, author of “The Dark of the Island.” To view prior programs: http://video.unctv.org/program/nc-bookwatch/episodes. For upcoming programs: www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

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