Books I have enjoyed lately...


As I was preparing for summer visitors, I found escape with these titles:

Knife: A New Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbo
   Harry Hole is back! Don’t ask me why I find the dark, creepy, drug and alcohol filled detective novels intriguing…I have been a fan for years and stayed up into the wee hours to finish Knife.
   This is the jacket copy of the book: 
Harry Hole is not in a good place. Rakel—the only woman he’s ever loved—has ended it with him, permanently. He’s been given a chance for a new start with the Oslo Police but it’s in the cold case office, when what he really wants is to be investigating cases he suspects have ties to Svein Finne, the serial rapist and murderer who Harry helped put behind bars. And now, Finne is free after a decade-plus in prison—free, and Harry is certain, unreformed and ready to take up where he left off. But things will get worse. When Harry wakes up the morning after a blackout, drunken night with blood that’s clearly not his own on his hands, it’s only the very beginning of what will be a waking nightmare the likes of which even he could never have imagined.
   There are so many plot twists: so many characters from previous crimes; so many music references; so many reasons to wonder what makes Jo Nesbo tick! As usual there are even a few reasons to be anxious to read what Harry will do next.


A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time by Antonia Malchik
   I have lived without a car for over 20 years so I definitely considered myself a walker. I have come to appreciate my surroundings, love seeing the light on the mountains and river as I walk to the grocery store, the library and for many years to and from work. So I felt this book would help me convince others to walk more. It does that but much more!
   Antonia Malchik asks essential questions at the center of humanity's evolution and social structures: Who gets to walk, and where? How did we lose the right to walk, and what implications does that have for the strength of our communities, the future of democracy, and the pervasive loneliness of individual lives?
   The loss of walking as an individual and a community act has the potential to destroy our deepest spiritual connections, our democratic society, our neighborhoods, and our freedom. But we can change the course of our mobility. And we need to. Delving into a wealth of science, history, and anecdote -- from our deepest origins as hominins to our first steps as babies, to universal design and social infrastructure, A Walking Life shows exactly how walking is essential, and how deeply reliant our brains and bodies are on this simple pedestrian act -- and how we can reclaim it.
   The last paragraph gives these directions:
“Jump in a puddle today. Meander across town. Go for a stroll. Roll among the world. Pace off your frustrations. Tread, stomp, skip, press those feet on the earth wherever you can find it. Walk alone; walk with a friend. Walk to think and grieve. And then look outward and find ways to give those denied it the freedom to walk. Step together. Walk barefoot on grass. Stride down the sidewalk. Keep walking, even if you’ve nowhere to go. Step in a puddle again. Watch the ripples you’re capable of creating. Leave a story in your footprints.” 

Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins
   Wendell Newman, a young ranch hand in Montana, has recently lost his mother, leaving him an orphan. His bank account holds less than a hundred dollars, and he owes back taxes on what remains of the land his parents owned, as well as money for the surgeries that failed to save his mother's life.
   When seven-year-old Rowdy Burns, the mute and traumatized son of Wendell's incarcerated cousin, is put under his care, what begins as an ordeal for Wendell turns into a powerful bond, as he comes to love the boy more than he ever thought possible. That bond will be stretched to the breaking point during the first legal wolf hunt in Montana in more than thirty years, when a murder ignites a desperate chase. The author tells a tale of a community trying to understand and heal after violence. But over the years a cycle seems to be repeating itself.
   After a recent reading someone asked Wilkins if he thought there would be an end to violence in the rangelands. He said yes, which I was surprised to hear. Yet as the discussion continued his answer started to ring true---populations of farmers and ranchers are dying out, so as people can no longer support themselves off the land, they leave. Fall Back Down When I Die is haunting.


Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews
   In his first book, Badluck Way, Andrews wrote about his experiences on a cattle ranch in the Southwestern part of the state near Yellowstone Park and conflicts with wolves. In Down from the Mountain, Andrews is working for a group called People and Carnivores in the Mission Mountains helping small ranchers deal with grizzly bears where corn fields, chickens, apple orchards are far too tempting to the grizzlies that live in the area.
   Andrews’ job is to build a fence around a corn field that has been attracting many grizzlies including Millie and her two cubs. Along the way the reader learns the history of the Salish land, and the varied newcomers to the valley and efforts to preserve and protect the grizzlies. Bear biologists race to find Millie in the corn field as harvesters and fence builder section off the area. Millie has been wounded by an illegally fired shotgun. Her cubs are captured, the shooter is not. In the author notes Andrews says, “Down from the Mountain is braided from research, experience, and invention. All three strands were necessary to make the story whole.” 

The Behavior of Love: A Novel by Virginia Reeves
   Doctor Ed Malinowski is the ambitious superintendent of a Montana mental institution. He convinced his wife, Laura—an independent artist, to follow his dreams to a new home where he hopes they can begin to raise a family. Penelope is a beautiful, young epileptic who should never have been placed in an institution. As Ed’s ambitions keep him at work longer, Laura starts to teach art at the institution and Penelope is falling in love with her compassionate doctor. Marriage, lust and ambition drive the story but not always in a predictable direction. The Behavior of Love examines the nature of mental illness and unstable behavior—what drives ambition and who controls whom.