Books uncover mythical characters and epic investigations |

Books uncover mythical characters and epic investigations


by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller has more than delivered on her much-anticipated follow up to the award-winning best seller “The Song of Achilles,” which is basically a retelling of the “Iliad.” I actually have not read the first book, but I plan on it now. Miller is a truly gifted storyteller. “Circe” is basically a retelling of the “Odyssey.”

The powerful witch Circe was one of three children who came from Helios, the Titan Sun God, and his union with Perse, the beautiful nymph daughter of Oceanos. It becomes clear that she suffers lower status than her siblings and other nymphs because she has the voice of a mortal and the yellow eyes of a hawk. 

After her first meeting with a mortal, the fisherman Glaucos, she falls in love and turns him into a god. When Glaucos tires of Circe’s attention, he turns toward the beautiful sea nymph Scylla. Circe, enraged, turns her witchcraft upon the nymph and is exiled by Zeus to a beautiful, unpeopled island.  It is here on Aiaia that Odysseus finds her, happily surrounded by tame wolves and lions and swine – the latter are earlier visitors that she has bewitched after an unwise sea captain attempts to rape her.

As with her previous novel, the great skill here is the way Miller gives voice to a previously muted perspective in the classics, forging a great romance from the scraps left to us by the ancients.

Written in compelling prose that ripples with hyperbole, there is nothing ancient or unaccessible in the story of the ever-resilient Circe as told by Miller. Whether you are a true fan of these mythologies or not, there is something for everyone in these completely engaging, relevant tales.

“I’ll Be Gone in The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer”

by Michelle McNamara

Gillian Flynn of “Gone Girl” fame opens this book with a glowing introduction of the dogged Michelle McNamara’s relentless search for the Golden State Killer. Gillian Flynn is a fan of her investigative skills and her writing as I too, have come to appreciate.

A couple things about this book set it apart and make it notable. The first is that she died before she finished it, the second is that the killer was finally caught just weeks after the release of this book. Not only that but he was caught exactly as McNamara thought he would be.

This book is of the true crime genre but with very notable skills in writing. McNamara pretty well inserted herself into the investigation, working with detectives for years.  This killer/rapist was one of the most prolific in history and was almost caught many times but just kept slipping through. His crimes spread across California through the ’70s and ’80s, and as recently as 2011, he called a former rape victim “Remember the night we played?” he said in the same raspy, horrible voice.

The book ends with a beautiful afterword by her husband actor/comedian Patton Oswalt. Most stunning is the Epilogue: Letter To An Old Man, McNamara pretty much spells out how the recent arrest took place. She called it, probably helped solve it. Just a shame she didn’t live to see it.

These titles are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path.

Kim Brack bookseller at Off the Beaten Path bookstore.

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