Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Flight Patterns by Karen White

Flight Patterns. Karen White. Penguin Publishing Group. May 2016. 416 pp.  ISBN#: 9780451470911.  

Georgia Chambers has found pleasure in developing her antiques business, keeping busy in order to keep some very bad memories out of the forefront of her consciousness.  That’s all about to change as James Graf hires her to find a certain tea cup painted with bees to complete a set missing this piece.  Although Georgia is an expert on Limoges china, she also is quite knowledgeable about other fine china, particularly those unique handcrafted types that are extremely valuable.  The piece James describes to her brings back such a powerful memory that she pales and feels like she’s suffocating.  For she knows she must now return to her hometown in Florida to seek this china teacup, and she’s coerced into allowing James to accompany her. 

The time spent in Apalachicola, Florida will be life-changing for the sisters, Georgia and Maisy, their grandmother Birdie, Maisy’s daughter Becky, Grandpa, James and his sister Caroline and other characters from Europe who are part of this intriguing family history.  The story is complex and intense but evolves to the point where the family secrets of each character are revealed, real and imagined wrongdoings are faced and somewhat and then completely forgiven, silence and oblivion are removed once truth is embraced, the finding of journals as well as post cards and honey forces questions to be answered and so much more that is perfectly woven together at just the right pace. 

Every chapter begins with a quote about the life of bees, specifically describing how they interact and their functions at different times of their lives.  These additional lines literally and figuratively foreshadow what follows in each chapter – a charming extra touch!

Karen White is a highly skilled writer whose fiction just keeps getting better and better! If this is your first novel by her, you’re in for a treat!  You’ll probably want to read her other works as well.  For the threads of secrets and memories keep the characters from being stereotypical, the plot is both simple and complex, and the tension is relieved by warm and tender moments in all the right places. 

Wonderful, light (somewhat) fiction that this reviewer highly recommends as a great read at any time of year!  Thanks to the publisher, Penguin, who provided this novel in return for an honest review!

The Wolf of Sarajevo by Matthew Palmer

The Wolf of Sarajevo.  Matthew Palmer. Penguin Group (USA). May 2016. 400 pp.  ISBN#: 9780399175015.

Few people remember the horrific Srebrenica massacre but the aftermath of that tragedy continues to haunt an unending conflict among Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians.  Eric Petrosian lost a good friend, Meho Alimerovic, in that war and now he’s back on a mission to find out what the Bosnian leader is up to twenty years after Srebrenica.  Eric is serving at the American Embassy in the Balkans.  He has heard that the Bosnian Serb leader, who had sworn to live and influence his country toward peace, is now back to his old violent acts.  Another war is looming, a continuation of hundreds of years of ethnic hatred.

Why is Zoran Dimitrovic turning to activities that will build and eventually explode in more war and ethnic cleansing?  It turns out that another Mafia connected leader, Marko Barcelona, interested in only money and power, has some evidence that could turn Zoran Dimitrovic from a leader into a prisoner before a war tribunal trial.

Eric is approached by a former lover and now EUO diplomat, Annika Sondergaard, who knows that Eric has connections and in-roads that she can never hope to match.  She begs him to become involved in finding out the reason for Dimitrovic’s change of heart. 

The rest of the story is a historical thriller that probes the history of this conflict and an international thriller as Eric and Annika get closer and closer to the truth of the matter which just might put a halt on more pain and historical tragedy.  For every decent act of these two investigators are other rabid characters who love to kill, who love the hunt for the sake of the violence, and those who love to enter the fray to increase the already simmering tensions waiting for the spark that will inflame the area into new civil war.

Matthew Palmer has his finger on the pulse of Balkan history and a keen understanding of the major personalities literally creating history in this part of Eastern Europe.  The reader has to pay close attention, however, to keep pace with all the different names and which group each belongs to.  Succeeding in that endeavor, the reader will enjoy this fast-paced, somewhat stereotypical, but all too real battle for the future of this part of the world.  Very good historical fiction for sure!