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May 6, 2014

Mysteries good summer reads

It’s already May and time to start preparing a list of summertime reading by the pool, river or lake that won’t be too intellectually taxing. Two for the mystery buffs to consider are “Reconstructing Amelia” by newcomer Kimberly McCreight (Harper Perennial) and “The Collector of Dying Breaths” by M.J. Rose (Simon and Schuster).

In “Reconstructing Amelia” McCreight explores the themes of privileged teens, working mothers, and secret political maneuvers set among New York City’s competitive social set. Hard-working litigation lawyer Kate Baron is in shock at the supposed suicide of her 15-year-old daughter, Amelia, who has jumped from the roof of her posh private school, Grace Hall. When an anonymous text comes that says, “Amelia didn’t jump,” Kate sets about finding the truth to her daughter’s death via text messages, a research paper on Virginia Woolf, and a self-search through her own past. McCreight’s novel has been compared to Gillian Flynn’s sensational hit, “Gone Girl.” The movie version of “Reconstructing Amelia” will star Nicole Kidman in the role of Kate.

Gothic thriller fans will delight in M.J. Rose’s sixth novel, “The Collector of Dying Breaths.” Linking the past with the present, Rose creates a heady mystery centered on Rene le Florentin, the perfumer to Catherine de Medici in sixteenth century Florence. Fast forward to the present where renowned mythologist Jac L’Etoile is researching Florentin’s manuscripts. She uncovers references to an elixir of immortality concocted from the dying breaths Florentin supposedly collected. Jac enlists the help of her former love interest, Griffin North, a linguist who had begun translating Florentin’s recipe at the request of an eccentric heiress who would use the formula for her own ends. Based on the real Florentin, Renato Bianco, who worked on so-called “inheritance powders” for would-be kings, Rose has deftly created a thriller-cum-historical novel that is as scintillating as the most coveted perfumes.

Concoct your own early summer menu with the following recipes. Fond memories of food, family and friends are the legacies we want to leave behind. Enjoy.

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