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book review

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

I Found You

By Lisa Jewell

Atria, 342 pages, $22

I Found You is Lisa Jewell's 13th mystery novel, but many readers are just discovering this brilliant British talent. There will be tendencies to compare this book to The Girl On The Train and its various imitators, but don't be fooled: This is better than those and, I think, better than the original Girl on the Train. Jewell's forte is the good old-fashioned novel of psychological suspense, the kind that keeps you reading deep into the night. The setting here is the perfect little town of Ridinghouse Bay on the British seaside. Alice Lake discovers a man, disoriented and without ID, wandering on the beach near her home. He doesn't seem dangerous and so she takes him in to warm him up before calling in the police. Back in London, another woman is worried that her brand-new husband has disappeared. The police are called and it seems that the man she's married never existed. Who was he? Just what happened and to whom? Jewell keeps the suspense taut right to the end. It's time to welcome this "new" British talent.

What My Body Remembers

By Agnete Friis, translated by Lindy Falk van Rooyen

Soho Crime, 298 pages, $31.95

Agnete Friis, with her writing partner, Lene Kaaberbol, is best known for the popular Nina Borg series set in Denmark and featuring plots in the turbulent world of international politics and migration. This stand-alone novel by Friis is very different but no less attention-grabbing. This is a classic whodunit with, again, a great up-to-date character and twist. With prose pared to the bone, Friis introduces Ella Nygaard, young, single, a parent to seven-year-old Alex. Ella is a classic product of the state. Orphaned at 7, when her father murdered her mother and disappeared into prison, Ella grew up in foster care. Childhood trauma turned into PTSD that left her with panic attacks so severe she is unable to function for days. One particularly bad attack ends up with hospitalization and, when she's released, she discovers Alex has been placed in care and she is in danger of losing him permanently. Ella kidnaps Alex and heads for the last place she can think of: her grandmother's old home on the North Sea. As the pair hide, Ella is assailed by memories of thoughts and events from 20 years before. Just what did happen on that horrible night she has forced into her subconscious? This is an excellent character study of a woman in extreme crisis.

Since We Fell

By Dennis Lehane

HarperCollins, 432 pages, $34.99

Dennis Lehane has always written terrific female characters, but Since We Fell is his first novel with a woman acting as both narrator and central character: Rachel Childs. The novel is really a thriller in three parts: First, we have Rachel's tormented childhood at the hands of her psychopathic mother, a self-help guru who refuses to tell Rachel anything about her absent father. This leads to an understandable obsession to find her dad. Then there's her career as a TV journalist and her marriage to a self-absorbed jerk who loves her on-air persona until Rachel loses that in a blaze of public humiliation. Finally, there's marriage to Mr. Right who loves her for her now-agoraphobic self hiding from the world. But the world comes back with a vengeance and the last third of the book is classic Lehane, with twists and threats at every turn. This one is obviously written with the movie script in mind, but Lehane's films are top of the line, too. This story moves away from working-class Boston but after so many superb novels set in Southie, it's time for a rest. Fans definitely will not be disappointed.

Funding for school libraries in Canada is woefully inadequate and children at high-needs elementary schools are paying the price. Read Between the Lines, a documentary produced by the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, captures the importance of early literacy and the challenges we face in Canada by underfunding school libraries.