Book Briefs

By TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

The Prosecution

June 21, 2007 - D. W. Buffa is not just another attorney-turned-author. He's the real deal. His characters are not perfect and his courtroom scenes aren't drawn from episodes of Perry Mason. His heroes have flaws and his villains have good points.

The Prosecution
By D.W. Buffa
Ballentine Books. 
$6.99. 336 pp.
5/5 Stars

This book is really three stories wrapped, as only Buffa can do, into one. Story one is the murder of a deputy district attorney's wife. Story two is the murder of a prominent member of Portland's old-line society. Story three is the coming back to life of Joseph Antonelli.

Buffa's stories aren't nice and tidy – they're about real life. The way he constructs them, however, is as close to precision as an author can get. So far, he's been able to avoid the trap of some successful writers. He's stayed sharp, crisp and real.


No Mountain High Enough

Nothing was going to keep Linda Armstrong Kelly and her son from getting their piece of the American Dream. 

No Mountain High Enough
By Linda Armstrong Kelly
Broadway. $24.95. 288 pp.
5/5 Stars

With little more than a heart full of love for her child and a huge amount of determination, Linda carved out a life for the two of them, against all odds. Armed only with a GED and a real estate license, she rose from a temporary clerk to the rank of project manager for a major telecommunications company. She raised Lance to believe in himself, and it seems she didn't try to squelch his infatuation with danger and speed. Her determination to succeed was quickly transferred to Lance, whose natural athletic abilities were just what the doctor ordered and his mother needed to keep his boundless energy channeled in a positive manner. 

While being open and honest about her own unfortunate choices, Linda shows herself to be fallible, too. However, instead of having a pity party, she seems to learn from her every mistake and to take each personal relationship failure and make something positive out of it. It's good to know she's found the love of her life and is happy at last. 

The Ice Queen

I've been a Hoffman fan since “Turtle Moon” (1992). I loved “Practical Magic,” but hated the mess Hollywood made of it on film. In this book, Hoffman grabs on and holds her readers until the last word on the last page. 

The Ice Queen
By Alice Hoffman
Little, Brown. 
$23.95. 224 pp. 
5/5 Stars

An almost invisible librarian from New Jersey lives an almost invisible life, carefully detaching herself from all emotional attachments. Her older brother, Ned, is her portal to the outside world. When their grandmother dies, Ned moves her to Florida, where's he's a professor. 

On a particulary hot day, the librarian (whose name is never given) survives a direct hit by lightning. She reluctantly agrees to become part of a study with other lightning strike survivors. She hears of a man named “Lazarus” Jones, nicknamed because he was apparently dead for 40 minutes after a lightning strike. What happens between the two is pure magic. 

Mystical. Intriguing. Thought-provoking. Ultimately satisfying. Yep, this is Hoffman at her best. 

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