The Roar of the Butterflies – Reginald Hill 2008
This is a smart little mystery involving golf, many shady dealings and a missing person, as well as a cast of interesting characters that combine to spice up the life of Joe Sixsmith, P.I.. The book is extremely clever and well-written, chock-full of brilliant British humour. Apparently Hill has written several other titles starring the endearing detective – if they’re half as good as this one, they’re worth checking out. Warm, sunny summer day + tall cold glass of Long Island iced tea + hammock + this book = bliss. Trust me.
The Help – Kathryn Stockett 2009
In her first novel, an emotional story about race relations set against the backdrop of the political firestorm that is America (and specifically Jackson, Mississippi) in the early 1960s, Stockett vividly constructs a story that cannot have a happy ending, although it speaks volumes about endurance and friendship and love. Told from the point of view of two black maids as well as a young white female sympathizer, The Help is most appealing due to Stockett’s brilliant capture of each character’s voice (and I’m told that if you listen to the audiobook, the various actresses who narrate do a simply beautiful job of enacting the text). Highly recommended.