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Books #9-10

Book #9 was "Foulsham," the 2nd book in the Iremonger trilogy by Edward Carey. The series is set in an alternate Victorian-era London, where the Iremongers are a family that lives in "The Heaps," a walled off part of the city that is home to London's trash, and all have "birth objects" that come from the heaps. In the first book, an Iremonger named Clod has the special power of hearing objects speak. With the help of servant girl Lucy Pennant, they find out that things are not what they seem and the Iremonger family has been up to no good. In the second book, Clod and Lucy have been transformed into objects and ejected from Heap House into Foulsham, the city in the Heaps that Heap House recruits servants and other workers from. Their quest in the second book is to to transform back into humans and help protect the community from being overwhelmed by the Heaps that are threatening to break through the walls. Clod also knows he needs to be brave and stop his family from turning the poor people of the Heaps into objects that can easily be disposed of. This one ends on a cliff-hanger just like the first book. They're quirky and fun, and Carey's black and white illustrations really add to the creepy but fun atmosphere of the books. I'm looking foward to reading the conclusion soon.

Book #10 was "The Secret Place" by Tana French, as an audiobook. I love this series by French, The Dublin Murder Squad novels. The first book starts with Rob Ryan as the protagonist, and in each book afterward, a minor character in the previous book becomes the main character in the present book. She breaks the chain somewhat by bringing back two characters from an earlier book in Dublin Murder Squad #5. She also breaks with her tradition of having one first-person narrator. The chapters in "The Secret Place" alternate between a first-person narrative from Stephen Moran with a series of third-person flashbacks told from the viewpoint of the girls at an all-girls boarding school who are under suspicion of knowing more than they're telling about the death of a boy named Chris Harper from a nearby all-boys school. Stephen Moran is in Cold Cases but wants to break into the murder squad. He knows that when Holly Mackey brings him a postcard saying "I know who killed Chris Harper" that this is his chance to get a foot in the door with the Murder Squad. He approaches Antoinette Conway about partnering on the investigation. Most of the story takes place during one very long day of interviewing subjects at the school. I thought this was another really masterfully-told tale by Tana French. For instance, there's a betrayal that takes place both in the present and in the flashback scenes, and they happen back-to-back. It's a brilliant bit of plotting. One thing I didn't necessarily care for was that she introduced some possibly paranormal elements into the story, though it's never proved one way or the other whether there's a logical explanation for the phenomenon. It didn't bother me too much, because I saw it as a metaphor rather than taking it literally. I am looking forward to getting a hold of the next book in the series.

1. Death's End (3rd in the "Three-Body Problem" trilogy) [fiction]- Cixin Liu (translation by Ken Liu)
2. Brat Farrar [fiction]- Josephine Tey
3. Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored [nonfiction]- Mary Gabriel
4. Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home [fiction]-  Sheri Booker
5. Heap House (1st in the Iremonger trilogy) [fiction]- Edward Carey
6. Air [fiction]- Geoff Ryman
7. The Intuitionist [fiction]- Colson Whitehead
8. The Monster of Florence: A True Story [nonfiction]- Douglas Preston, with Mario Spezi

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