Friday, January 18, 2013

Sam Thomas

Sam Thomas has a PhD in history with a focus on Reformation England and recently leaped from the tenure track into a teaching position at a secondary school near Cleveland, Ohio.

His new novel is The Midwife's Tale.

A couple of weeks ago I asked Thomas what he was reading.  His reply:
In the last year or so, I’ve fundamentally changed my reading habits. The biggest change is that I’ve gone from writing history to mysteries, so I’m now free (obligated!) to read far more fiction than in the past.

Earlier this year I gazed in horror at my To-be-Read list, and realized that I would have to change the way I read. As a result, I’ve been starting many more books than I finish, and if a work doesn’t compel me to return, I move on. I realize that this means I am denying myself the pleasure of some books that are slow to develop, but if I don’t go this route, I’m going to struggle through some pretty mediocre works and life is way too short for that.

The most recent book I read which I absolutely loved was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I know I’m kind of late to the game on this one, but it was worth the wait! I fell for Girl for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a sucker for unreliable narrators, and without spoiling too much, I think it’s safe to say that both of Girl’s narrators fit that description.

Second, Flynn sticks the landing. I know some readers detested the end of Gone Girl, and it took me a few days to make my peace with it, but it is perfect. While justice might (or might not) have been served, I would argue that every character got exactly what s/he deserved. While this is no mean feat in books where the Good Guys and Bad Guys are clearly delineated, Gone Girl so thoroughly muddies these waters that Flynn’s success is truly magical.

The other noteworthy book I recently read is The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen. While it is a more straight-forward thriller than Gone Girl, there are a number of similarities. Like Flynn, Laukkanen tells the story from the perspective of two sets of adversaries – this time cops and criminals, rather than husband and wife – and manages to engender sympathy for both. And, also like Flynn, he brings the book to a satisfying conclusion, which is no mean feat given that he has the reader rooting for both cops and crooks. The sequel to The ProfessionalsCriminal Enterprise – is due out soon, so if you haven’t read The Professionals now is the time.
View the trailer for The Midwife’s Tale, and learn more about the book and author at Sam Thomas's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Midwife’s Tale.

The Page 69 Test: The Midwife's Tale.

--Marshal Zeringue