Livesey, Margot. Criminals. Penguin Books (New York: 1995).

Criminals2Alternating points of view tell the story of an adult brother and sister who slide from rescuing a baby to taking her. The sleazy boyfriend of the true mother attempts to work the situation for a profit. The brother isn’t fully aware of his sister’s deceit, but has his own issues with an insider trading offense which he slipped into because of love. Criminality as potentially part of anyone’s nature. For writers: A solid example of using multiple points of view to increase tension and psychological insight, without sacrificing cohesion or clarity.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Vintage Books (New York: 2003).

Curious Incident2Story of autistic Christopher’s quest to solve the suspicious death of the dog next door, which leads him to the deeper mystery of what happened to his own mother, all told from his point of view as an autistic boy. Intriguing and well done. For writers: Shows how much can be done with an inherently limited voice, without breaking character.

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Girl with a Pearl Earring

Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with a Pearl Earring. Penguin Putnam Inc. (New York: 1999).

Girl with a Pearl EarringA fictional tale set in 1660’s Holland behind the famous painting by Vermeer. The girl respects her position and obligations as the family maid, and yet has inner fire – an interpretation the painting supports. Attracted to the great painter, she assists him and is ultimately painted by him, but that goes too far for the wife and others in their constricted world. A certain fatalism, even cynicism at times, but this girl is a survivor. For writers: Chevalier has created a credible tale out of the already known by investing this world with enough coarseness and detail to stand for possible truth.

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