August 13th - Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

alfred hitchcockalfred hitchcock

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, London, England. One of the best-known and most popular filmmakers of all time, he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Here at the AADL our DVD department is stocked with lots of classic Hitchcock films and television shows for your viewing pleasure. Watching Psycho, probably his best known film, will always make your next experience in the shower one to remember. My personal favorite has always been The Birds (love that schoolyard scene!), but we also have lots of other faves like Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Rebecca, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1940, Spellbound and Vertigo. Fans of Hitchcock's old television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents will find season one and two on our library shelves and, for anyone not familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, check out the Dick Cavett Show where he was featured as a guest way back in 1972. Hitchcock died from renal failure in April 1980, just four months after he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Honours.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #119

In Finding Nouf*, young, privileged Nouf disappears just before her wedding. Her wealthy Saudi family first hires desert tracker Nayir al-Sharqi to find her and then to investigate her death discreetly.

Nayir, a conservative Palestinian Muslim finds it difficult to traverse the world of women, especially with Katya Hijazi - an intelligent, insightful female medical examiner, and his unexpected ally in the investigations.

Debut novelist Zoë Ferraris, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, "gets deep inside Nadir’s and Katya’s very different perspectives, giving a fascinating glimpse into the workings and assumptions of Saudi society." As a mystery, it's fairly well-turned, "but it's the characters and setting that sparkle". An utterly gripping read.

* = Starred Reviews

Sail

In an effort to reunite her family after the death of her husband, Katherine Dunne plans an elaborate sailing vacation with her three children. No one is looking forward to the vacation, including Katherine. To make matters worse, her teenage daughter is depressed and suicidal, her middle son is a drug addict with unused potential, and the youngest son rarely talks. Unfortunately, as soon as the vacation begins, it turns into the family’s worst nightmare.

Meanwhile back in Manhattan, Katherine's second husband, Peter, a well-known, ruthless lawyer, stays behind to prepare for a case. Little does Katherine know, her loving husband is anything but loving…

Sail is true to James Pattersons's writing: short chapters; great plot twists; and plenty of supporting characters.

Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel by Robert Crais

Chasing Darkness is the newest novel by Robert Crais. Good writing, good plot and twists you don’t expect are the hallmarks of this book. The twists aren’t stupid or far-fetched either.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #117

In The Dirty Secrets Club*, the best clue San Francisco forensic psychiatrist, Jo Beckett finds at the 3rd high profile murder-suicides of the week is the word “dirty” scrolled on the thigh, in blood-red lipstick, of the latest victim – Callie Harding – the Assistant U.S. Attorney. Someone is picking off the members of the “Dirty Secrets Club”, A-list celebrities who trade secrets and thrills.

Meg Gardiner’s hardback U.S. debut boasts a taut, complex plot, break-neck pacing; a smart, tenacious and emotionally vulnerable protagonist with her own secrets to hide; and a realistic rendering of a city under siege.

Critics are comparing Gardiner to Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver and Tess Gerritsen. Gardiner practiced law in LA and taught at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her previous Evan Delaney (available only in paperback) novels are big hits in the UK where she now lives.

*=Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #116

Lauren Groff's "exuberant" debut The Monsters of Templeton* is a "fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure".

Pregnant and troubled, archaeology student Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton slinks home to Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her professor, on the very day a long-feared sea monster surfaces in Lake Glimmerglass, quite dead. When Vi, Willie's flower-child mother let slip that Willie's father is in fact a respected citizen in town rather than a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, Willie dives headlong into untangling the roots of the town's greatest families and her father's identity.

Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians — as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers, Groff, a native of Cooperstown(on which Templeton is based), will delight readers with Willie's sharp wit, literary/historical references and lore.

* = Starred Reviews

Hold Tight

Mike and Tia Baye live in a suburban community in New Jersey. Their teenage son, Adam, is troubled and withdrawn following the suicide of his close friend.

Hold Tight explores the dark side of parental oversight. The fundamental question is: What happens when a parent spies on a teenager's electronic communications and finds something frightening, such as drug abuse, murder or planned suicide? Should the parents take the appropriate action without destroying the teenager’s trust forever? The Baye family finds out…

Black Out

Annie Powers leads a normal life in Florida with her husband and child in the stellar psychological thriller Black Out. However, less than ten years earlier, Annie was Ophelia March, the teenage prisoner or partner in crime of serial killer Marlowe Geary. Annie has now reinvented herself with Geary's help, Annie can't remember all that happened during her teenage years with Marlowe, and she now is prone to panic attacks and blackouts.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #110

According to a New York Times article, it took a citywide fund-raising effort for The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to raise the $68 million needed to keep a Thomas Eakins masterpiece - The Gross Clinic in the city. "The painting is widely considered to be among the greatest convases in American art".

Though Eakins' fame is "almost entirely posthumous and he was little known and admired in his native city" during his life time, but in Lawrence Goldstone's debut The Anatomy of Deception, Eakins is front and center in this highly readable, intriguing and historically well-researched forensic thriller. Also depicted are the real-life characters such as William Osler (the Father of Modern Medicine), famed surgeon William Stewart Halsted and the vibrant social scene of Philadelphia 1889.

Historical mystery readers, especially those of Caleb Carr and Matthew Pearl will find much to like here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #106

In this Olympic year, all eyes are on China. Coincidentally, we have a bumper crop of FFF by expat. Chinese writers, as well as a number of outstanding mysteries set in China.

The Eye of Jade, by Chinese exile Diane Wei Liang who fled her country after participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, is an impressive debut.

Set in the late 1990s' Beijing, P.I. Mei Wang was hired by a family friend to track down a jade seal from the Han Dynasty, supposedly destroyed by the Red Guards. Challenging family relationships, bureaucratic intricacies and an unconventional protagonist made for a fascinating read.

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