D - E - F
listed by Elizabeth Brunner
Other Book List Pages: ABC
|Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of
Bones, 1998. Tragic by lyrical winner of the American
Book Award. About a young womans search for her boyfriend after the
massacre of Haitian laborers in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s.
|Davis-Goff, Annabel. This Cold Country,
2002. During World War II, a young woman marries into an upper-class family
and moves to their decaying estate in Ireland. She encounters family tension,
treason, and murder.
|Deaver, Jeffery. The Stone Monkey,
2002. The paralyzed criminologist of this mystery series was played by
Denzel Washington in the movie The Bone Collector. In this novel,
the FBI and the INS join forces to protect Chinese illegal immigrants from
a brutal smugger in a hunt through New York City's Chinatown. Complex plot
with the detective's whiteboard notes reproduced after each chapter to
help the reader analyze the crime. The Empty
Chair, 2000, involves a hunt in North Carolina swamps for
an insect-obsessed teenager who has kidnapped two women. The plot twists
are endless, the detectives make mistakes as time runs out, and environmental
issues are addressed. The Coffin Dancer,
1998, An assassin and bomb expert stalks the owners of small airline company,
while the quadriplegic detective uses forensic evidence to pursue the villain.
Maiden's Grave, 1996, does not involve the same characters
unfortunately, but provides a fascinating and technical look at hostage
release negotiations after a group of teachers and deaf students are kidnapped
by a threesome of escaped convicts. Plot twists caught me by complete surprise.
In Speaking in Tongues, 2000,
a divorced couple unite hunt for their kidnapped daughter and find the
disturbed psychologist who has targeted their family. In Praying
for Sleep, 1994, bounty hunters, policemen, a psychiatrist,
and amateurs hunt for the schizophrenic patient who escaped from a mental
hospital for the criminally insane during a storm. Family secrets are disclosed
and the plot twists are true surprises. The
Vanished Man, 2003. This time the killer is a master illusionist
who uses magic-themed performances to seek revenge.
|DeLillo, Don. The Body Artist,
2001. Slow-paced tale of a performance artist who is consumed by a mentally
disabled man after the death of her husband. Evocative language but not
|Diamant, Anita. The Red Tent,
1997. Fictional exploration of the life of Dinah, a Biblical character
from the book of Genesis whose life was overshadowed by her father Jacob
and brother Joseph. Grounding in historical reality, the book shows the
private lives of women who withdrew together into a red tent for the rites
of puberty, their monthly cycles, and childbirth.
|Dickey, James. Deliverance,
1970. Well-written adventure tale of suburban men on a wilderness
river trip who face unexpected dangers.
|Joan Didion, The Last Thing He Wanted,
1996. Narrative contortions make the political plot difficult to follow.
|DiSabato-Aust, Tracy. The Well-Tended Perennial
Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques, 1998. Excellent
for serious gardeners, detailed, technical, and well-researched. The
Well-Designed Mixed Garden, 2003, focuses on how various
plants can be combined.
|Donofrio, Beverly. Riding in Cars
with Boys: Confessions of a Bad Girl Who Makes Good, 1987.
Memoir of a teenage mom who conquers life in a housing project and ends
up at an elite university.
|Dorris, Michael and Emilie Buchwald. The
Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading,
1997. Fascinating reflections by 57 contemporary authors on favorite books
|Doty, Mark (editor). Open House:
Writers Redefine Home. 2003. An anthology of essays about
home, place, and identity. Topics range from a teenager confined to a body
cast to slaughter in Rwanda.
|Dubus III, Andre. House of Sand
and Fog, 1999. Beautiful study of complex personalities.
An Oprah selection and a finalist for the National Book Award. A former
addict loses her bungalow due to a bureaucratic error. Meanwhile a Persian
immigrant buys the house at auction as the last chance at economic stability
for his family. Their battle over the property ends in tragedy, but each
flawed character is viewed with compassion.
|Du Maurier, Daphne. My Cousin Rachel.
Gothic tale of two naive brothers and the mysterious woman who captivates
them. In Myself When Young: The Shaping of
a Writer, 1977, the novelist at age seventy reflects on
diaries that she kept in her youth.
|Dunant, Sarah. Mapping the Edge,
1999. A single mother fails to return after a vacation, with her daughter
left behind in the care of two friends. Two parallel scenarios explore
alternate versions of the mother's fate. I found the narrative experimentation
very annoying, but the author is skilled with language.
|Dunmore, Helen. Talking to the Dead,
1996. A photographer comes to the aid of her sister who is suffering from
post-partum depression, which raises disturbing memories from their childhood.
Slow pace, skimmed the second half.
|Easterman, Daniel. Night of the
Apocalypse, 1995. My favorite thriller writer is this Irish
professor for his complex plots, esoteric religious knowledge, and humanization
of all characters, even those on the side of terrorists. A fundamentalist
Christian sect holds Middle Eastern delegates hostage in the Irish Republic.
|Edgerton, Clyde. Lunch at the Piccadilly,
2003. Meant to a whimsical look at the eccentric Southern residents of
a convalescent home, but struck a false and strained note throughout.
|Emerson, Earl. Vertical Burn,
2002. Realistic and detailed arson investigation mystery, written by a
Seattle firefighter. An outcast from the Fire Department spots the conspiracy
but battles to find a listener and untangle the motive.
|Ephron, Delia. Big City Eyes,
2000. A journalist moves from Manhattan to a small town, hoping that the
new environment will help her oddball son re-enter the normal range. Funny
observations on human nature, plus a murder mystery and romance with a
|Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex.
2002. Pulitzer Prize winner. Traces three generations of a Greek-American
family that settled in Detroit, including the genetic history that results
in an hermaphoditic child. Brilliant, especially the narrative voice.
|Evanovich, Janet. One for the Money,
1994. Laugh-aloud funny. A New Jersey underachieving woman stumbles into
a bounty hunter job. The character's impulsive response to dangerous situations
and hysterical commentary on family relations compensate for a lack-luster
|Farmer, Nancy. The House of the
Scorpion, 2002. Dense futuristic novel for teens that ranges
from opium landowners to zombie slaves and cloned children. But somehow
holds together as a credible alternate world with believable characters
and political undertones.
|Fforde, Jasper. Lost in a Good Book,
2002. Strange futuristic fantasy about a detective who travels through
the pages of literature. Received some critical phrase but I hated it and
only skimmed two-thirds.
|Fielding, Helen (author of Bridget Jones' Diary). Cause
Celeb, 1994. Interesting novel of a young woman who moves
from heartbreak after dating a talk show host to relief work with famine
victims in Africa. Includes amusing look at celebrity-driven fundraising
and the behind-the-scenes antics of mission workers, but also includes
horrifying images of starvation.
|Fielding, Joy. Whispers and Lies.
2002. The first half is excellent as a solitary, middle-aged nurse allows
a young woman to rent the cottage behind her house and blossoms through
the peculiar friendship. But then the suspicion and suspense intensifies
into the bad plot of a horror movie.
|Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great
Gatsby, 1925. Re-read the classic.
|Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Bookshop,
1978. Quiet tale of a British widow who opens a bookstore in a small town
despite hostility from locals.
|Foer, Jonathan Safran. Everything
is Illuminated, 2002. The Ukranian narrator's self-taught
version of English is amusing, but serious theme of the Holocaust could
have been more effective without the fantasy and absurdist elements.
|Fox, Paula. Desperate Characters,
1970. Slow moving and dated portrait of middle class New Yorkers
trapped by the decline of their neighborhood, boredom, and a dying marriage.
|Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections,
2001. An Oprah book club selection. Too dark for my tastes, but the language
is spectacular. About a family's disintegration, from the harsh father's
decline through Parkinson's diseases to the younger son's job failures.
to be Alone: Essays, 2002. Essays range from a father's
battle with Alzheimer's to the impact of a maximum-security prison on a
|Freedman, J.F. House of Smoke,
1996. Female detective investigates Santa Barbara case involving wealthy
ranching family, drug smuggling, and the oil industry. Plot is fine, but
the male author has very crass and inaccurate view of female sensuality,
which makes characters hard to believe.