December 2022 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Jessica Bloom has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Stella Maris, City of Last Chances, and Night Shift.

Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

The best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road returns with the second volume of The Passenger series: Stella Maris is an intimate portrait of grief and longing, as a young woman in a psychiatric facility seeks to understand her own existence.

1972, BLACK RIVER FALLS, WISCONSIN: Alicia Western, twenty years old, with forty thousand dollars in a plastic bag, admits herself to the hospital. A doctoral candidate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alicia has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she does not want to talk about her brother, Bobby.

Instead, she contemplates the nature of madness, the human insistence on one common experience of the world; she recalls a childhood where, by the age of seven, her own grandmother feared for her; she surveys the intersection of physics and philosophy; and she introduces her cohorts, her chimeras, the hallucinations that only she can see.

All the while, she grieves for Bobby, not quite dead, not quite hers. Told entirely through the transcripts of Alicia’s psychiatric sessions, Stella Maris is a searching, rigorous, intellectually challenging coda to The Passenger, a philosophical inquiry that questions our notions of God, truth, and existence.

Images above: Stella Maris front cover, author Cormac McCarthy

City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Arthur C. Clarke winner and Sunday Times bestseller Adrian Tchaikovsky’s triumphant return to fantasy with a darkly inventive portrait of a city under occupation and on the verge of revolution.

There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The city chafes under the heavy hand of the Palleseen occupation, the choke-hold of its criminal underworld, the boot of its factory owners, the weight of its wretched poor and the burden of its ancient curse.

What will be the spark that lights the conflagration?

Despite the city’s refugees, wanderers, murderers, madmen, fanatics and thieves, the catalyst, as always, will be the Anchorwood – that dark grove of trees, that primeval remnant, that portal, when the moon is full, to strange and distant shores.

Ilmar, some say, is the worst place in the world and the gateway to a thousand worse places.

Ilmar, City of Long Shadows.

City of Bad Decisions.

City of Last Chances.

Images above: City of Last Chances, author Adrian Tchaikovsky

Night Shift by Robin Cook

In this exhilarating medical mystery-thriller by Robin Cook, fan favorites Jack and Laurie are lured into the dark underbelly of hospital dangers when an internist is murdered.

Colleagues turned spouses Dr. Laurie Montgomery and Dr. Jack Stapleton already have their plates full with crazy work schedules and family pressures. The last thing they need is a murder. When Laurie’s longtime friend, by all accounts healthy Dr. Sue Passero, dies mysteriously in the hospital parking garage, an autopsy is required, which falls squarely under Laurie’s purview as newly appointed chief medical examiner. So when Laurie asks Jack to take special care with the case, he can hardly refuse.

With his curiosity sparked by the mystery around Sue’s death, the indefatigable Jack, compelled to resolve the case at hand, sets out to investigate on-site at Manhattan Memorial Hospital, even though it means blatantly defying the Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s rules. What started out as an inquiry into Sue’s tragic passing soon turns into a deadly and dangerous chess game between Jack and the clever and deranged killer, who might just administer another lethal blow if Jack isn’t careful.

Images above: Night Shift front cover, author Robin Cook

Jessica Bloom

Jessica Bloom is a bookseller at her family bookshop, ‘Bookcase London’, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993.

See Jessica’s and Anna Klerfalk’s book choices from previous months here.

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.