Here are my five "books for fall" recommendations:
John Irving has enthralled us with epic stories for a long time now. From "Setting Free the Bears" to "The World According to Garp," "The Cider House Rules," "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and many more, Irving now brings us "Avenue of Mysteries" (Simon & Schuster).
Juan Diego and Lupe are brother and sister. Lupe has the gift of being a mind reader. And she may also be able to see the future. As usual, Irving takes an intriguing premise, crafts remarkable prose to carry his narrative, inhabits it with memorable characters that seem more real than people you actually know, and sends us headlong on a tale that covers decades as Juan Diego grows from child to man.
As a former lawyer, books on famous attorneys have always captured my interest. "The Brethren" was a classic, vastly entertaining study of the interior workings of the Supreme Court. Now, with "Showdown" by Wil Haygood (Knopf), we find ourselves immersed in the nomination process of Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court.
There was much that enthralled me about this book, including Marshall's early years and his mentorship under civil rights attorney Charlie Houston. But most compelling for me was the relationship between Marshall and President Lyndon Johnson.
I'm on the board of the Mark Twain House & Museum, and thus I am also a self-acknowledged Twainiac. When I heard that the late Oscar Hijuelo's last work, "Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise" (Grand Central Publishing), was an imagined account of the very real friendship between Mark Twain and African explorer Henry Stanley, there was no doubt that I would dive into the story with gusto.
Though I knew little of Stanley beyond the obvious accounts of his fabled career, I know a lot about Mark Twain, and Hijuelos has captured the man down to the last satirical barb. A magical story.
Having had the pleasure of meeting Geraldine Brooks, I was thrilled to see that she had a new novel coming out about King David. There are few novelists who can handle historical fiction the way that Brooks can. ("March" was an incredible achievement.)
In her new book, "The Secret Chord" (Viking), Brooks shows all the masterful strokes that she had demonstrated in her past works, in this tale about a Biblical figure of immense importance, and with all his very human flaws.
Being a mystery writer myself, I would be remiss in not including one in my recommendations.
It would have to be Sue Grafton's latest, "X" (Marian Wood Books). Sue has over the years created in Kinsey Millhone one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. Grafton is a writer who gets better and more nuanced with each offering, and I love the fact that the books are all set in the 1980s -- I get a kick each time Kinsey frantically searches for a payphone to make a call.
With "X," Sue has written another wonderfully compelling story that brings out all of the things we love about Kinsey, but also delivers one of her most chillingly sinister villains.
I hope you enjoy all of these books as much as I did. Happy reading!
Since his first novel, the international bestseller "Absolute Power," was published in 1996, author David Baldacci has written more than 30 books, with more than 110 million copies in print. His latest is the upcoming Will Robie mystery, "The Guilty" (Grand Central).
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