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READ MY MIND © Book Reviews by Michael G. Harris, OD

May 07, 2018 11:46AM ● Published by Elena Hutslar

It's time to catch up on some books I've read lately that I haven’t had time to review.  Definitely worth your time is Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin. This is his first book since The Da Vinci Code that I think is a truly worthy successor to that blockbuster.

 

Once again, the hero is Robert Langdon, the Harvard professor of “symbology” and code-breaker. This time, the story centers around one of Langdon's former students, the brilliant computer scientist and futurist Edmond Kirsch.  He has a startling announcement that will change “the face of science forever.” Kirsch has made a scientific discovery that answers two fundamental questions that have baffled humans since the beginning of time: Where do we come from? Where are we going?

 

His answers will stun both the scientific and religious communities. Has he discovered how life could have begun on earth without divine intervention and what happens to us after we die? Will modern-day religions be discredited like ancient religions such as idol worship and Greek mythology have been?

 

Brown tells an intriguing tale with lots of twists and turns. His cast of characters is captivating. This thriller is a real page-turner. Origin is one of those novels that is both spellbinding and thought provoking at the same time. Enjoy!

 

Robert Harris’ Munich is a fictionalized version of the 1938 Munich Conference between Great Britain’s prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, and Germany's leader, Adolf Hitler. The so-called Munich Agreement reached at the real conference was supposed to prevent World War II and bring "peace for our time." Unfortunately, it did neither.

 

Harris's novel brings an interesting twist to what might've happened in Munich.  A German diplomat and his British counterpart plot to murder Hitler at the conference. They know if they get caught they will be killed. The suspense is palpable and the outcome uncertain until the very end. This is a fascinating work of historical fiction.

 

For real history, read David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon, the true story of “the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI.” In the 1920s, the Osage Indians were among the world’s wealthiest people. Whites had forced them onto a barren Oklahoma reservation that turned out to have millions of dollars of oil reserves under it. When several Osage are mysteriously murdered and local authorities can’t solve the crimes, they call in the fledgling FBI and its legendary leader J. Edgar Hoover. The story of the killings and the hunt for the murderers highlights a troubling period in our country's past.

 

Amy Bloom’s White Houses is a fictionalized version of the real-life friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. A member of FDR's administration, “Hick” is the narrator of this intimate fantasy of a secret liaison and “scandalous love affair.” While this book may not appeal to everyone, it's an interesting perspective on our country’s most celebrated first lady.

 

Isabel Allende is back with another beautiful novel, In the Midst of Winter. It’s the story of three people from different backgrounds brought together during a fierce winter snowstorm. A minor traffic accident links an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, an American professor, and his tenant, a visiting professor from Chile, in a wonderful tale of mystery and romance. The title comes from Albert Camus’s quote:  “In the midst of winter I finally found there was within me an invisible summer.” In spite of the tragedy that led to their encounter, all three seek hope for the future. In the same vivid style that made The Japanese Lover a bestseller, Allende’s characters come to life in this brilliantly told story.

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