Six Four, Hideo Yokoyama’s U.S. debut, was a hit thriller. Seventeen, Yokoyama’s latest book, engagingly performed by Tom Lawrence, is not a thriller, but it is an extraordinarily gripping newsroom drama. It’s also an intensely personal look at a man who must deal with the ethical predicaments of journalism as well as his inner demons and perceived inadequacies. In 2003, as he’s attempting to climb a treacherous rock face, Kazumasa Yuuki, the protagonist and narrator, relives his days following the story of a catastrophic airline crash many years prior that killed almost all of the passengers. In 1985, Yuuki is a veteran reporter for the provincial newspaper in the prefecture where the plane went down, and he is made desk chief for the story. Determined to get as much information to the public and to the victims’ families as he can, he becomes embroiled in vicious office politics and power struggles that lead him to re-examine human nature. Yokoyama’s fast-paced procedural practically bristles with tension.
Lovely is not a word usually associated with Stephen King. But Elevation, his latest novella, which he narrates, is lovely. It is not a horror tale meant to provoke screaming—instead, it’s a beguiling parable with lessons our uncivil society would do well to learn. Scott Carey, a resident of Castle Rock, is losing large amounts of weight, yet his outward appearance doesn’t change, and he’s never felt better. His good friend, a retired doctor, doesn’t think there’s a medical explanation. That’s fine with Scott, who accepts his fate with grace. In the time left to him, he takes on the small-town bigotry aimed at his neighbors, a married lesbian couple. No details to spoil your fun—just know that when Scott goes into the dying of the light, he’s greeted with a rainbow of sparklers.
Pardon the pun, but there’s a lot to reckon with in The Reckoning, John Grisham’s new thriller, including courtroom complications that of course won’t be set straight until the last few minutes of the audiobook. So settle in for a long, satisfying listen as you sift through the lives and lies, sins and secrets, grief and guilt of the proud Banning family of Clanton, Mississippi. On a fall morning in 1946, Pete Banning, husband, father, head of a prominent cotton-farming family and revered World War II hero who lived through hell, walked to town, murdered the Methodist pastor and would never say why, though his silence might mean dying in the electric chair. His reasons for the murder and its consequences for Pete’s two children unfold vividly as Michael Beck reads in a remarkable array of authentic accents.
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.