Cobwebs and Dust Bunnies

Reviews by Hillary Lutter

Defending Jacob
By William Landay
I gave this book an easy five stars on Goodreads. I did read this one cover-to-cover, could not put it down and wished there were more pages. Maybe it had just been too long since I read a good novel, who knows?
This is the story of an average, everyday suburban family. Or so they think they are until a 14-year-old boy who is in the same class as their withdrawn, loner teenage son is stabbed to death in a park on his way to school.
The dad, who happens to be the assistant DA working on the case, is shocked when he finds out his colleagues are investigating his son on the sly, but not everyone who knows Jacob is so surprised. The kid is a tad odd, but he’s 14. That’s normal… right?
I don’t want to give too much away. I enjoyed this one immensely. Read it, you won’t be sorry.

Lost in Shangri-la
By Mitchell Zuckoff
I’m a sucker for history, whether it’s a good historical fiction or a well-written, completely true story. This one is the latter.
This story uncovers a piece of World War II that doesn’t involve Nazis or Japs, or really much of anything about the war. It’s about a plane crash in the heart of New Guinea and the survivors’ ordeal as they climbed out of the jungle.
I didn’t even really know there was a military base on New Guinea. I mean, if I did, it probably fell into one of those “I don’t need to remember that right now” categories. (There’s a limited amount of available RAM in this brain of mine.)
The crazy thing that actually led to this crash is the fact that, although we (the US) operated and occupied a military base on the island of New Guinea, we knew practically nothing about the land we were using. There were plenty of horror stories of tribes of barbarous cannibals and that, obviously a guess at best, is the only intelligence they had.
One day a pilot flying over the island takes a shortcut and accidentally discovers a vast valley amidst the craggy and jungle-choked mountains. From that point on “Shangri-la” is famous to the personnel on the base. The valley itself is amazing, but the communities of people – homes, fields, livestock – are the real draw. Here they were, stationed on this island and neither they, nor the US Government, had a clue what or who occupied the rest of it.
One Sunday afternoon a pilot takes a group of base personnel, men and women, on a pleasure cruise up to view the valley, and don’t return.
This story is one of survival under some pretty terrible circumstances in a very rough and unforgiving place. It gets a little slow far into the book, but by that time I was too hooked to give up, plus I was in Honduras at the time and didn’t have another book with me to start on.

Dark Places
By Gillian Flynn
I just finished this a few nights ago and I immediately went to Goodreads to give it five stars. I wanted more pages, but I guess I’ll settle for Flynn’s, “Sharp Objects,” which was actually written before this one and her biggest hit, “Gone Girl.”
If you read or saw “Gone Girl” and liked it, then you’ll like this one. Flynn’s style of writing is so addicting and real, and her stories so full of twists, I have to say, I’m a fan.
This one centers on a main character who, in herself, brought out a twist of emotions. She is one for whom you at the same time feel sympathy and utter disdain.
Libby is the remaining member of her family: her father is estranged, a drunk, lowlife mooch; her sisters and mother were killed in their Kansas farmhouse when she was seven – a murder labeled the The Satan Sacrifice; and her brother is in prison.
After spending 25 years still hiding from that terrible night, out of money and lacking job skills, sound mind and ambition, Libby runs across a club obsessed with her family’s murders that is willing to pay for information – information that Libby must now confront.

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