Book Reviews

Meet Judith Rodby, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of English from CSU, Chico. Judith leads our monthly book club and is a voracious reader who enjoys connecting with fellow book lovers. Judith led The National Reading Initiative for the National Writing Project and has facilitated book clubs for children, adolescents, and adults. Be sure to check back frequently to learn about her latest favorites, and browse the archive for even more!

 

 This month, Judith reviews Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick (release date 4/2/19)

“Lights All Night Long” is a mystery by Lydia Fitzpatrick, taking place in the bayous of Louisiana and in a refinery town in Russia. The contrast is striking; the bayous and its crocodiles are steamy and threateningly hot, while Russia is a place where the drug of choice is krodile, (Is the pun intended? It has to be.) and the world dark and cold as three young women are murdered and marked in death with cuts on their cheeks.

Yet the mystery per se is hardly the best part of this very readable novel; I doubt that most readers will care too much about who killed the young women because we know so little about them. The two main characters, however, are fascinating: Ilya has traveled to Louisiana as a high school exchange student to live in a “relentlessly cheerful” American family with three daughters; his brother Vladimir is left in Russia inhabiting a world full of illicit drugs and masturbatory sex.  When Vladimir is accused of murder and is imprisoned, Ilya’s connection to his brother becomes palpably painful.

What was unexpected, completely unpredictable, was the gleeful humor that laced this dark, cold story.   I laughed out loud at the description of Ilya’s first trip to the “nondenominational” church made of glass so that the parishioners sweat on each other as their gyrating dancing preacher travels down the aisles. Through the eyes of lIya, we experience amazement at swimming pool lights (actually all kinds of lights) and take-out food from the unbelievably real “Bojangles. Famous Chicken.”

Even the ironic character Mormon Gabe who lands in Ilya’s small town is painted with a light touch.

While the whodunit did not propel me through the novel, what did move me was the story of a relationship of two brothers and their attempts to protect each other from painful truths.

 

Lights All Night Long: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525558736
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - April 2nd, 2019