Beyond Recall

When Stephen King anointed Robert Goddard as his favorite literary discovery of 2008, his reasoning was that Goddard's novels offer "surprises that really surprise." The British author's backlist is in the midst of being reissued in full, and after reading Beyond Recall, nominated for the Best Novel Edgar Award when first published in 1997, I must concur with Mr. King's assertion. Goddard sets out his tales with the precision of a Swiss watch, mixing together a flawed hero with a dark past, long-buried secrets bubbling up thanks to historical documents and methodical detection, and steadily building tension that culminates in a satisfying but startling climax. Beyond Recall's variation on this theme centers begins when Christian Napier is accosted at a party by an old friend who insists that his father's death is Christian's fault. Then the friend hangs himself; spurred by guilt and a need for truth, Napier begins to piece together a tangled web of long-lost children, disputed inheritances, and unsolved murders -- a quest that naturally imperils his own life. There's a refreshing retro feel at work in Beyond Recall, reminding the reader that oldest of motives -- sex, money, and power -- still wield narrative force.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.