Book choice for July

Panic by Jeff Abbott [suggested by Rebecca Judd]

front cover

Things are going well for young film-maker Evan Casher - until he receives an urgent phonecall from his mother, summoning him home.  He arrives to find her brutally murdered body on the kitchen floor and a hitman lying in wait for him.  It is then he realises his whole life has been a lie.  His parents are not who he thought they were, his girlfriend is not who he thought she was, his entire existence an ingeniously constructed sham.  And now that he knows it, he is in terrible danger.  So he is catapulted into a violent world of mercenaries, spies and terrorists.  Pursued by a ruthless band of killers who will stop at nothing to keep old secrets buried, Evan's only hope for survival is to discover the truth behind his past.  An absolute page-turner, Panic has been acclaimed as one of the most exciting thrillers of recent years.

Jeff Abbott is the national-bestselling, award-winning author of eight mystery and suspense novels.  Jeff's novels have been called "exciting, shrewd, and beautifully crafted" (Chicago Tribune), "fresh, original... intricately woven" (Publishers' Weekly), "nail-bitingly suspenseful and totally original" (Irish Independent) and "excellent" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel).  Jeff is a three-time nominee for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award and a two-time nominee for the Anthony Award, given at Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Conference).  All of Jeff's Whit Mosley suspense novels have been honored with nominations for major writing awards: A Kiss Gone Bad was short-listed for the Anthony Award; Black Jack Point was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and Cut and Run was nominated for the Edgar Award.  Jeff's first novel, Do Unto Others, won both the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel.  His other books include The Only Good Yankee, Promises of Home, and Distant Blood.  (This is a brief extract from Jeff Abbott's website)


Shortlisted for this month

Sickened [suggested by Becky Rose]



Sickened is the memoir of Julie Gregory, who grew up in a backwoods country trailer in southern Ohio.  Her mother's life -- lived in desperate isolation -- sought a means to escape by dressing in pastels and running Julie to different doctors.  At first it was little things -- headaches, sore throats and the medications they came with -- but eventually Julie's mother was in hot pursuit of a mysterious heart condition and the open heart surgery she was convinced would give it a name.  Racing against the clock for the cure, Julie was continually x-rayed, medicated and eventually operated on, all in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother's mind -- and literally left her own child sickened.

Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, this memoir re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide, their wild Value City shopping sprees, gun-waving confrontations, and the astonishing naivete of medical professionals and social workers.  It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together -- including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

About the Author

Julie J. Gregory was born May 16, 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. She spent a few early years in Phoenix before her family moved deep into the hollow of a dirt road in Southern Ohio.  It was there that Julie cultivated a deep love of nature and a defiant protection of animals; sneaking earthworms out of the fishing bucket, picking ticks off the farm dogs, checking roadside trash bags for abandoned litters of kittens.  When she left home, she bought a 70's Buick convertible, lived light and continued to rescue and save animals; a parallel act in lieu of being able to save herself from a locked down past.  Over the years Julie has fed the sharks and stingrays in the Columbus aquarium, nurtured frigates and pelicans in the wild, rescued African hedgehogs, and adopted rabbits and dogs from medical labs.  Read more on her website.

The Life of Pi [suggested by Amy Gregg]

The Life of Pi


Some books defy categorisation: Life of Pi, the second novel from Canadian writer Yann Martel, is a case in point: just about the only thing you can say for certain about it is that it is fiercely and admirably unique.  The plot, if that's the right word, concerns the oceanic wanderings of a lost boy, the young and eager Piscine Patel of the title (Pi).  After a colourful and loving upbringing in gorgeously-hued India, the Muslim-Christian-animistic Pi sets off for a fresh start in Canada.  His blissful voyage is rudely interrupted when his boat is scuppered halfway across the Pacific, and he is forced to rough it in a lifeboat with a hyena, a monkey, a whingeing zebra and a tiger called Richard.  That would be bad enough, but from here on things get weirder: the animals start slaughtering each other in a veritable frenzy of allegorical bloodlust, until Richard the tiger and Pi are left alone to wander the wastes of ocean, with plenty of time to ponder their fate, the cruelty of the gods, the best way to handle storms and the various different recipes for oothappam, scrapple and coconut yam kootu.  The denouement is pleasantly neat.  According to the blurb, thirtysomething Yann Martel spent long years in Alaska, India, Mexico, France, Costa Rica, Turkey and Iran, before settling in Canada.  All those cultures and more have been poured into this spicy, vivacious, kinetic and very entertaining fiction.

(Review by Sean Thomas from

About the Author

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of peripatetic Canadian parents.  He grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario and Mexico, and has continued travelling as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India.  After studying philosophy at Trent University and while doing various odd jobs - tree planting, dishwashing, working as a security guard - he began to write.  He is the prize-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, a collection of short stories, and of Self, a novel, both of them published internationally.  He has been living from his writing since the age of 27.  He divides his time between yoga, writing and volunteering in a palliative care unit.  Yann Martel lives in Montreal.  See also his entry on Wikipedia.

Previous Months' Book Choices

June 2006
May 2006