Anti-hero investigator brings tension to thriller
 

Anti-hero investigator brings tension to thriller

Jo Nesbo’s protagonist, Inspector Harry Hole, is a daunting piece of work. A chain-smoking manic depressive and an alcoholic, Harry’s…
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Father’s Day picks for the reader
 

Father’s Day picks for the reader

Father’s Day, the third Sunday of June and so falls this year on June 19, sports a peculiar history. Although…
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The story of a modern-day oracle
 

The story of a modern-day oracle

Occasionally, books are published in the U. S. that can best be described as “oddities” which acquire a kind of…
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C.S. Lewis’ love story and its lessons
 

C.S. Lewis’ love story and its lessons

Nearly 50 years have passed the death of C.S. Lewis — he died of illness in 1963 on the same…
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A thinking person’s crime novel
 

A thinking person’s crime novel

Kind hearts, allow me to introduce Police Detective, Harry Hole. Let me warn you in advance, he is an alcoholic…
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Book falls flat in telling of Hemingway
 

Book falls flat in telling of Hemingway

So ends Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his memoir of his years as a young writer in Paris. This book…
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An agnostic searches for answers
 

An agnostic searches for answers

For Christians, Easter is a moveable feast day — this year the celebration fell about as late in the spring…
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Holman’s novel dubbed compelling, tantalizing
 

Holman’s novel dubbed compelling, tantalizing

When I was a teenager, I became addicted to a late-night horror movie host named Bestoink Dooley. Based in Atlanta,…
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A Southern siren among Manhatten’s literati
 

A Southern siren among Manhatten’s literati

In A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir (978-1-4000-6794-7, $26), Norris Church Mailer gives an account of her marriage to…
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Sentimental story is also very memorable
 

Sentimental story is also very memorable

The Memory of Running is a “road book.” In some respects it resembles what critics in the 19th century called…
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Biography recounts the life of a quiet hero
 

Biography recounts the life of a quiet hero

In “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare wrote: “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have…
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Stephen King collection gets the thumbs-up
 

Stephen King collection gets the thumbs-up

At the conclusion of this collection of four novellas: Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King adds an “Afterword.” In acknowledging…
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Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with Skywalker
 

Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with Skywalker

Some The Smoky Mountain News readers may remember a review here several seasons ago of Bill Walker’s Skywalker: Close Encounters…
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Love, devotion and a restless journey
 

Love, devotion and a restless journey

The great kite of the crucified Christ loomed and caused the crowd to vibrate. Like a pyre before him, the…
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Battling weight problems and ensuing baggage
 

Battling weight problems and ensuing baggage

Though heroin and cocaine are dangerous and illegal, both drugs carry with them a cachet, the dark romance of, say,…
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Vampire saga lacks traditional horror appeal
 

Vampire saga lacks traditional horror appeal

For quite some time now, the literary genre known as “science fiction/horror” has been undergoing radical changes. The “creatures of…
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A novel that sparkles with quality writing
 

A novel that sparkles with quality writing

In Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (ISBN 978-1-4000-6893-7, 2010, $25), first-time novelist Helen Simonson has created a superb portrait of life…
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Area storytellers featured in new book
 

Area storytellers featured in new book

In view of the fact that Southern Appalachia is acknowledged to be a massive reservoir of traditional storytelling, Saundra Kelley’s…
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Author recounts unique parenting journey
 

Author recounts unique parenting journey

Some novels call to mind certain family members. There are the wise old stories that remind us of our grandparents,…
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A grisly war novel that stands apart
 

A grisly war novel that stands apart

“It took Karl Marlantes 30 years to write his thunderous, brutally granular account of scorched-earth combat in Vietnam. Matterhorn was…
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Revisiting one of the last raids of the Civil War
 

Revisiting one of the last raids of the Civil War

Anyone who has driven state roads between Asheville and Winston-Salem has quite possibly seen those state historical markers commemorating the…
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This is quality Southern writing
 

This is quality Southern writing

How many times have you heard the lament, “They don’t write southern novels the way they used to”? This statement…
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A cautionary tale of the dangers of excess
 

A cautionary tale of the dangers of excess

“The rich are different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously said to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway…
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In new novel, outlook is grim without technology
 

In new novel, outlook is grim without technology

Let me begin this review by confessing that I never heard of E.M.P. (Electromagnetic Pulse), and I was distressed to…
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Waynesville Inn to play host to second-annual Winterfest
 

Waynesville Inn to play host to second-annual Winterfest

Haywood County residents looking to brave the ice and leave their firesides this January can find an afternoon of respite…
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Leavitt creates emotional story, realistic characters
 

Leavitt creates emotional story, realistic characters

In her previous novels — two of which, Coming Back To Me and Girls In Trouble, have been reviewed here…
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A dark story about death, love and loss
 

A dark story about death, love and loss

Dear readers, if you decide to purchase this amazing novel, please consider the following advice: forget George Romero and the…
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A bunch of possibilities for your book lover
 

A bunch of possibilities for your book lover

To buy affordable holiday gifts for men past the age of 30 can be difficult. When confronted with men who…
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Lehane’s latest as good as it gets
 

Lehane’s latest as good as it gets

For over a decade, Dennis Lehane’s name has been synonymous with skillfully crafted crime novels. Both Mystic River and Shutter’s Island…
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Find the perfect gift at your local bookshop
 

Find the perfect gift at your local bookshop

For many people, Thanksgiving is a holiday that delivers on its promises. The table sags beneath platters of ham and…
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Zafón back… but not, this time, in Barcelona
 

Zafón back… but not, this time, in Barcelona

For millions of readers, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind proved to be one of the most captivating…
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Book explores the value of silence
 

Book explores the value of silence

The sound of silence. Silence is a rare commodity in our world today. Of course, perfect silence doesn’t exist. The…
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McCrumb gets sidetracked in book about famous trial
 

McCrumb gets sidetracked in book about famous trial

Several months ago, I reviewed a marvelous non-fiction work by Sharon Hatfield titled Never Seen the Moon: The Trials of…
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Taking readers to a warm and colorful place
 

Taking readers to a warm and colorful place

As cooler weather plucks leaves from the trees, stripping the branches bare as a freshly-barbered poodle, as that wonderful green…
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Unwieldy story still packs a punch
 

Unwieldy story still packs a punch

Reading So Cold the River may give many readers a weird sense of déjà vu — a feeling that they…
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A new collection of mountain writers
 

A new collection of mountain writers

Many of us have attended a Methodist or Baptist “dinner on the grounds.” At these events, once popular across the…
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Crews’ world is full of blood and bone
 

Crews’ world is full of blood and bone

Getting Naked with Harry Crews, edited by Erik Bledsoe. University of Florida Press, 1998. The first time I ever heard…
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An irresistible adventure
 

An irresistible adventure

Some novels ask for a close reading. Entranced by the author’s language, intrigued by an intricate plot, and in some…
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Southern stories don’t disappoint
 

Southern stories don’t disappoint

The publication of New Stories from the South 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of this prestigious series. Obviously, the folks…
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Words speak louder than actions
 

Words speak louder than actions

A Postcard From The Volcano: A Novel of Pre-War Germany by Lucy Beckett. Ignatius Press, 2009. 520 pages World War…
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Putting the spotlight on Whittier
 

Putting the spotlight on Whittier

My Mountain Granny by Matthew Link Baker. Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc., 2010. In the opening pages of My…
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Choice of victims makes this a disturbing read
 

Choice of victims makes this a disturbing read

Stephen Hunter’s I, Sniper (ISBN 978-1-4165-6515-4, $26) brings to readers once again that intrepid sniper, now old and aching from…
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A fascinating murder story
 

A fascinating murder story

On a hot July night in 1935, a young Wise County, Virginia, school teacher named Edith Maxwell came home late.…
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A grim look at Appalachia
 

A grim look at Appalachia

Authors often dig into their childhood to mine for the coal and diamonds of their books. Sometimes they use the…
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Memoir project a mixed bag
 

Memoir project a mixed bag

The design of this book’s cover, in addition to being visually attractive, quite possibly serves as an inadvertent assessment of…
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Searching for God and the self
 

Searching for God and the self

Home. The word is as twisted with complications and mystery as all those other household words we use every day:…
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Tales of alienation and horror
 

Tales of alienation and horror

For the past few years, internet literary critics of fantasy/supernatural novels have been raving about about a writer of “punk…
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Piecing together a picture of home
 

Piecing together a picture of home

Although Americans are known for their wandering ways, traveling to California in Conestoga wagons, taking the train to find a…
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Throwing punches and having some fun

Jack Reacher must own the toughest set of knuckles on planet Earth. About halfway through the latest Reacher saga, The…
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Unhappy reading vs. happy reading

Books, books, books, and more books. After a long hiatus, in the last month books have again become my daily…
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