My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Cruellest Month is the third book in the Armand Gamache series. Gamache returns to Three Pines to investigate the death of a woman who was apparently scared to death at a seance. The more compelling part of the story is the turning point in the "Arnot Case" plot line. The previous subtle attacks on Gamache become very public, and Gamache must deal with the fallout. His enemy is revealed, and in a very interesting plot twist, those who are loyal to him are also revealed. The familiar inhabitants of Three Pines all make an appearance, and Ruth Zardo shows a completely different side of her personality. I stayed up late one night to finish this one!
For something completely different, this book definitely fits the bill. Aside from the odd choice of topic, the writing is brilliant.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of the most fascinating, interesting, funny, serious, and gross books I've ever read. Mary Roach researched the "after-life" of human cadavers and all the various ways they have been put to use. From organ donations, to medical school anatomy labs, to industrial research, and military research, human remains have been an important resource.
Her writing is clear and descriptive, and she has a knack for imagery which can sometimes be off-putting. The book is infused with a wry humor also, some of it from the people who actually work with cadavers, but often it's her own humor. Yet the reader never loses the sense of the enormous respect, Roach and the various researchers have for the real people who (usually) allowed their remains to be used. A warning: there are some passages that can make one squeamish. I think the best line in the book is at the very beginning, when Roach compares a human head to the size of a roasting chicken.
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