* Season to Taste by Natalie Young


Two novels featuring dead bodies in a week… In Season to Taste it’s a husband that is dead rather than a father, but he was deliberately killed by his wife rather than died mysteriously, and she figures that eating him is safer than burying him out in the yard. So she does, concocting all kinds of clever recipes. It’s rather gruesome, even if told in a matter-of-fact manner, and it’s also quite boring after a (short) while. The idea is that the husband was a pain, but even after many meals I could not quite tell exactly what made him so very loathsome, and certainly not why a more conventional manner of breaking up with him would not have been preferable for everyone involved.

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*** Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston

Written by a physician who, like the heroine, is a woman, Dirty Work features a young obstetrician on probation because one of her patient, for whom she was performing an abortion, is in a coma because of an error on her part. The story unfolds as she awaits the decision of  the hospital board that will decide whether her license will be revoked.

I thought the anguish of the heroine was beautifully rendered, and I also liked how her ruminations explored the difficulties of being an abortion provider in a profession that deifies saving lives. Warning: the surgery scenes are graphic.

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** The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell


The Death of Bees feature two sisters whose ne’er-do-well parents die mysteriously and who decide to bury them in the backyard and carry on rather than go to foster care. Their lonely homosexual neighbor helps them and eventually discovers the truth but keeps their secret. Told in an amusing, detached manner by the three main characters, the story is funny and sad — but always too unlikely to immerse oneself into it.

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* A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride


A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing won many prizes, so clearly I missed the point. The problem I had was that I could not read the book. check this out, “Where’s Daddy? Gone. Whiy’s that? Just is. And yelp she at the strength growing to your tips. Poke belly of baby that’s kicking me. Full in myself. Bustling hatchery.”

Yeah, it’s painful. And it means I did not push to the end of the book, as I usually do. Perhaps a more determined reader will uncover beauty I did not.

 

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* Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis


Rainey Royal is a manipulative twit and a self-obsessed pain in the butt. Sadly, she also lives in a chaotic household, her mother absconded, her father’s best friend is abusing her, and her father seems more interested in his own varied and abundant sex life — so we should feel sorry for her. But she’s just not that interesting.

 

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* One Kick by Chelsea Cain


The heroine of One Kick was kidnapped and held by a child pornographer for years when she was a child, and now she is helping a shadowy figure find two missing children.  A very wild ride ensues — but why she would want to get involved at all with someone she does not know (rather than an official police force, just to take one example) is never resolved, and it bothered me through the very end of the story.

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** The Dog by Joseph O’Neill


Written by the author Netherland, which I liked a lot, The Dog features a similar, lonely male hero whose girlfriend leaves him because he cannot commit to having children (in Netherlands, it was a wife’s desertion that caused the drifting) and who finds a job working for a shadowy family company in Dubai. With a great sense of the absurd, he drifts, mostly alone, in the glittering but anonymous society of expatriates. It will all come of a disastrous end, of course. I loved the well-observed description of Dubai business, although I felt the plot was somewhat amorphous.

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