2012 Best of the Best – Adult List

Afterwards, Rosamund Lupton   When her children’s school catches fire, Grace rescues Jenny, her 17 year old daughter, but both hover on the brink of deathAs the hospital works to save their lives, the two can communicate with each other and walk the halls of the medical facility.  Police investigation into the blaze reveals arson but Grace believes the arsonist is still looking to kill Jenny.  Mother and daughter haunt the hospital as they attempt to lead investigators to the true criminal.  

The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker   11 year old Julia’s life changes when she awakens one morning to hear that the earth’s rotation is slowing down.  Set against enormous environmental changes and an uncertain future, Julia faces growing up. 

Arcadia, Lauren Groff   ‘Little Bit’ is the child of hippie parents sincerely devoted to living off the land in the Arcadia commune.  This is the story both of Bit and Arcadia; childhood parallels the life of the cooperative and adulthood focuses on Bit’s life in the world outside. 

The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny  Armand Gamache and second in command Jean-Guy Beauvoir travel to the remote monastery of Saint Gilbert Entre Les Loups where the choirmaster has been found dead in an enclosed garden.  The monks created a magnificent recording of Gregorian chant suspending the community vow of silence, a decision that has split the community. 

The Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter   When beautiful starlet Dee Moray comes to his inn in Porto Vergona, shocked innkeeper Pasquale thinks she has mistaken his tiny village for its better known neighbor.  But Dee is purposely in Vergona, pregnant after a brief affair on the set of Cleopatra.  Pasquale falls in love but Dee leaves Italy.  Years later, Pasquale travels to Hollywood to discover the rest of the story.   

Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel   Second novel in her Cromwell trilogy.  Thomas Cromwell, having worked to put Anne Boleyn on the throne, now implements Henry VIII’s desire to be rid of her.  

Calling Invisible Women, Jeanne Ray   Middle aged Clover wakes up one morning to find that she is becoming (literally) invisible.  But she soon finds that she isn’t the only one as she discovers a community of other invisible women.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, Margaret Dilloway   Gal Garner has carefully constructed her life as a science teacher and cultivator of roses to work around her dialysis schedule.  When her niece Riley arrives looking for stability and a home, Gal’s independent life is thrown into disarray.

The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty   Respectable housewife Cora Carlisle accompanies the precocious 15 year old Louise Brooks to New York to allow Louise to ‘properly’ attend a famous dance school, preparation for following her dreams for an acting career.  But Cora has her own reasons for making the trip, reasons that illuminate and change her life.

Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein   Captured by Nazis in France when her plane crashes, Scottish spy Queenie agrees to talk to avoid torture by her captors.  As she writes her information for her captors, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot of the plane that crashed, as they grew to know each other as part of the British war effort.

The Cutting Season, Attica Locke   Caren Gray is now the manager of Belle Vie, the plantation where she was raised by her mother a cook and where her ancestors were slaves.She administers both visits to discover the history of the property and wedding and other event plans for the main building while raising her daughter.  The body of a field worker from a neighboring property is discovered on the grounds.  Dissatisfied with police investigation, Caren searches for answers , answers entwined with the past.

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver   Dellarobbia, young mother of two children, is escaping her marriage to meet a lover when she encounters an unlikely fire on the mountainside, or so it seems without her glasses.  Monarch butterflies swarm the mountainside, well outside their natural migration patterns.  Attracting scientific interest, Dellarobbia becomes involved in learning why the monarchs have left their natural habitats and confronts the issues of her own life.

The Gods of Gotham, Lyndsay Faye   Timothy Wilde, former bartender, becomes one of the first members of the NYPD, assigned to the Five Points slum.  He is pulled into an investigation by a young girl claiming that children are being murdered and mutilated. 

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn   When Nick Dunne’s wife goes missing on their fifth anniversary, suspicion falls on him.  But things may not be quite as they seem.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, Suzanne Joinson   Eva English accompanies her sister Lizzie and missionary leader Millicent on a journey to the Chinese city of Kashgar where Lizzie plans to serve as a missionary and Eva, not committed to missionary work,  to secretly write a cycling guide.  Their journey changes when they assist a young girl giving birth, a decision that imperils them all.  A modern  modern story of Frieda, a researcher who has inherited the estate of an unknown woman unfolds, is intertwined with the entries from Eva’s diary.

Miss Me When I’m Gone, Emily Arsenault   Pregnant Jamie is named literary executor for her friend Gretchen, dead after a fall following a library reading.  Gretchen made her name from a book called Tammyland, a study of country musicians with autobiographical elements.  Gretchen’s current work, judging from her notebooks,  suggest that she was looking at the death of her mother and that her own demise was not the accident it appears. 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan   Unemployed web designer Clay takes a job on the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore, a strange place with few and weird customers who never actually seem to buy anything.  After building a 3-D computer model of the bookstore, Clay begins to understand the customers and the bookstore’s strange contents.   But the puzzle he solves jeopardizes the bookstore and enlists his friends in attempting to unlock a secret.

The Rebel Wife, Taylor Polites   Augusta, widow of a wealthy older man who supported the Union in the Civil War, faces debt and the controlling and hostile ‘protection’ of an uncle in Reconstruction era Alabama.  With only the assistance of a former slave, she searches for missing money to support herself and her young son. 

Sacre Bleu, Christopher Moore   Lucien Lessard and his friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec investigate the death of Vincent Van Gogh, a death that may not be what it seems.  The investigation leads to the mysterious Colorman who sold the brilliant blue to many painters during their most intense work.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, Caroline Preston   Frankie Pratt tells her story of becoming a writer through a vintage scrapbook chronicling her life.

The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton  While hidden in a treehouse during a family party, teenaged Laurel witnesses her mother commit a shocking crime.  Fifty years later, as her mother lies dying, Laurel seeks to find answers to what she witnessed, revealing events in London during the WW II.      

The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani    Enza and Ciro meet once in their native Italy.  Circumstances lead both to emigrate to America where they encounter each other in New York and build a life together.

Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller   Patroclus is exiled from his own small kingdom and sent to live with Peleus, father of Achilles.  An unlikely friendship between the two boys blossoms into a deep love as the Trojan war unfolds. 

The Submission, Amy Waldman    The selection of a design for a September 11 memorial was a contentious decision by a diverse committee, only to become a public controversy once the designer is revealed as a Moslem architect.

The Technologists, Matthew Pearl   A series of bizarre disasters mobilize members of the first graduating class of the newly established Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the scientific nature of the disasters casts suspicion on the college.    

Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon   Nat and Archy own Brokeland Records, a vintage record store and heart of their community.  When plans are announced by Gibson Goode to restore the black neighborhood by building a megastore they realize that their small business and their own community will be lost.  Meanwhile, Archy is united with a son he only vaguely knew existed  as he awaits the birth of his child with his wife Gwen, a midwife, whose own business with Nat’s wife Aviva is jeopardized by their handling of a difficult delivery. 

Watergate, Thomas Mallon   A retelling of the Watergate scandal from a different perspective.

Where’d you go Bernadette, Maria Semple    When her agoraphobic mother Bernadette disappears without a trace on the verge of a family trip to Antarctica, star student Bee follows a trail of emails, letters, invoices and other clues to find out where she is. 


Elsewhere, Richard Russo  A memoir of a mother and son. 

The Hare with the Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal   De Waal traces the history of his family, the wealthy Jewish Ephrussis, through the ownership of a collection of Japanese netsuke, tiny handcarved figures. 

A Study in Sherlock, Laurie King, Leslie Klinger, eds.  A variety of mystery writers develop stories based on the Sherlock Holmes canon. 


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