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Notable books

Notable Books | Four bestselling novels reviewed by Susan Olasky

Extreme Measures

Here's an exciting conservative novel: Counter-terrorism operatives Mitch Rapp and Mike Nash are up against a rogue offshoot of al-Qaeda poised to attack the United States. They also have to stop civil liberties activists and their Senate sympathizers who think the "bad guys"-Rapp and Nash-are too tough with suspected terrorists.

Flynn skillfully cuts back and forth between the terrorists relentlessly training for their attack, and the small band of Americans with the understanding, resolve, and talent to stop them-if liberals don't hold them back. Flynn humanizes the Americans with frequent scenes of Nash interacting with his wife and children.

CAUTION: Language and violence.

The Brass Verdict

Connelly unites Mickey Haller, the criminal defense attorney who does business from the back seat of his fleet of Lincolns, and Harry Bosch, the cop from his other long-running series. When a defense attorney is murdered and Haller inherits his practice-which includes a high-profile case involving a movie producer accused of killing his wife and her lover-Bosch and Haller find themselves on opposite sides.

Connelly is a master of courtroom drama and ably keeps the plot moving. It's a delight to watch his two loner characters interact, both aware that they need something from the other but unwilling or unable to overcome the mistrust they have for each other.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The novel begins in 1946 with an exchange of letters between Juliet Ashton, a young writer with a new book about life in wartime London, and her publisher Sidney (and his sister Sophie). Through these breezy exchanges we get a sense of post-war life in England. But an unexpected letter from a man in Guernsey opens up a whole different world to Juliet, who learns how the Guernsey islanders survived the German occupation by setting up a literary society.

The novel is told entirely through letters. Like Juliet, we piece together what happened during the occupation and fall in love with the island's colorful and courageous inhabitants.

The Turnaround

In the summer of 1972 six Washington, D.C.-area teenagers-three white, three black-are involved in a racial incident that leaves one boy dead and one crippled, with two of the black teens sent to prison. The survivors are left psychologically scarred. Thirty-five years later two of the survivors meet again and pursue an unlikely reconciliation, while a third-now a habitual criminal-plots how to use that long-ago incident to his benefit.

Pelacanos describes realistically his characters' lives and the mean streets in which they live, and he includes bad language. He also imbues his stories with hope about the possibility of forgiveness and changed lives, and he crafts a lovely ending.

Spotlight

Nancy Guthrie has done us all a favor by gathering together Advent readings that reflect "a high view of Scripture and that put the incarnation in the context of God's unfolding plan of redemption." Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (Crossway, 2008) contains 22 pieces by Francis Schaeffer, J.I. Packer, John Calvin, John MacArthur, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Tim Keller, and others.

Although Carolyn Leutwiler's Singleness Redefined addresses particular issues that confront singles, almost everything she writes is applicable to all of us who chafe at circumstances, doubt God's goodness amidst suffering, envy those whose lives seem easier, and believe that if only we had X or Y we would be happy. Leutwiler fills her book with personal stories and biblical counsel. Like a good cheerleader and accountability partner, she encourages and exhorts her readers to press on toward godliness: "Let us grab hold of the promises of God and hold his hand firmly. He will not fail us!" (italics hers).

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