If you’re looking for a thriller that’s engaging and scenic, The Ghost Writer fits the bill. Both Martha’s Vineyard (actually Germany) and a cast that includes Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor are easy on the eyes. The windswept beaches and desolate rainstorms are forbidding yet stunningly beautiful.

Ewan McGregor plays a professional ghostwriter who is hired to finish the memoirs of  Adam Lang, a Tony Blair-like ex-prime minister. The book takes on more importance when Lang is accused of war crimes, and it becomes apparent that the job of ghostwriter may be a highly risky occupation.

Directed by Roman Polanski and based on The Ghost by Robert Harris, the movie is intelligent and full of twists and turns right up until the last moment.

This is not the type of book I would typically choose.  Turns out, I couldn’t put it down.

When I go on vacation, I often look for books that take place in the same locale.  Since I was heading out on a vacation to Maine, this one fit the bill.  Granted,  it had also received several excellent reviews, so I wasn’t just going by the title or the picture on the cover, though I’ve  selected books that way a time or too, as well.  Popular authors such as Nelson DeMillie, Tess Gerritsen, John Lescroart and C.J. Box were all singing the praises of this debut novelist, whose day job just happens to be editing Down East: The Magazine of Maine.  Plus, the book also landed on Booklist’s best crime novels of 2010 list.

The Poacher’s Son opens with Mike Bowditch, a game warden in Maine, receiving an alarming message on his answering machine from his estranged father, Jack, whom he hasn’t seen in two years.  The next day, Mike discovers that his father is the prime suspect in the murders of a beloved cop and a lumber executive.  Though Mike knows his alcoholic father makes his living poaching illegal game, he cannot bring himself to believe that the man is capable of murder.

What distinguishes this book from more plot-based suspense thrillers is the realistic no-one-is-perfect characterizations.  Also, the author seems to have a natural knack for pulling the reader into the setting, be it the rocky coasts or the forested wilderness that makes up much of Maine.

No, I won’t tell you the ending.  But I will recommend that you read this book and that you keep a lookout for the series of other Mike Bowditch mysteries to come.

June 1

Wolfman – Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro

Lawrence Talbot is lured back to his family estate to investigate the savage murder of his brother by a bloodthirsty beast. There, Talbot must confront his childhood demons, his estranged father, his brother’s grieving fiancee, and a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector. When Talbot is bitten by the creature, he becomes eternally cursed and soon discovers a fate far worse than death.

Alice in Wonderland – Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter

Alice, now 19 years old, returns to the whimsical world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. Bonus features include: Finding Alice; The Mad Hatter; and Effecting Wonderland.

June 8

Shutter Island – Leonardo Dicaprio, Jackie Earle Haley

When U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels arrives at the asylum for the criminally insane on Shutter Island, what starts as a routine investigation quickly takes a sinister turn. As the investigation unfolds and Daniels uncovers more shocking and terrifying truths about the island, he also learns there are some places that never let you go.

June 22

Last Station – Paul Gramatti, Christopher Plummer

In honor of his newly created religion, Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy renounces his title, property, and family in favor of poverty and celibacy. For the Countess Sofya, his wife of nearly fifty years, this is the last straw! After she discovers his plans to leave the rights to his iconic novels to the Russian people rather than his own family, she decides to use every trick of seduction in her considerable arsenal to fight for what she believes is rightfully hers.

June 29

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians – Sean Bean, Pierce Bronson

Percy Jackson is no ordinary teenager, he’s the son of Poseidon and is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, the most powerful weapon ever created! With storm clouds brewing, Percy embarks on an incredible cross-country journey to prove his innocence, recover the bolt, and prevent a war among the gods that could destroy our world!

November 3

food incFood, Inc – Documentary

Reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, and who we have become as a nation. Includes celebrity PSA’s, deleted scenes, and Nightline segment.  An eye-opening expose of the modern food industry, Food, Inc. is both fascinating and terrifying, and essential viewing for any health-conscious citizen.

pelhamTaking Pelham 1-2-3 – John Tavolta, Denzel Washington

Dispatcher Walter Garber’s day is turned upside down when he must face off against the criminal mind that is holding the passengers of a New York City subway train hostage after it is hijacked.

November 10

upUp – Disney Animated

Seventy-eight-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. He discovers too late that an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell has stowed away.

November 17

anybodyIs Anybody There? – Michael Caine,

Ten-year-old Edward lives in his family-run retirement home. While his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat and his father copes with the onset of a mid-life crisis, Edward leads an increasingly lonely existence until he meets Clarence, a retired magician and grieving widower who refuses to give in gracefully to old age.

sisters keeperMy Sister’s Keeper – Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz

Sara and Brian live an idyllic life with their young son and daughter. Suddenly, their baby girl falls ill, and her only hope for survival rests in her parents’ ability to find a compatible bone marrow donor. Their desperate decision to conceive another child raises both ethical and moral questions and begins to erode their relationship. Their actions ultimately set off a court case that threatens to tear the family apart.

star trekStar Trek – Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy, Zachary Quinto

When the Romulan Nero comes from the future to take revenge on the Federation, the new recruits of the U.S.S. Enterprise will voyage through unimaginable danger to stop him from destroying everything they know.

November 24

angelsAngels & Demons – Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of the most powerful underground organization in history, the Illuminati. Upon learning of an unstoppable terrorist act against the Vatican, Langdon travels to Rome and joins forces with Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra, and together they will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that leads to the Vatican’s only chance for survival.

my cousin rachelEvery once in a while I get a hankering for the classics.  Okay, I’ll confess — it’s usually in the wee hours of the morning and the only books on my shelf that I haven’t read are the classics.  So it was with My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.

I’d loved the author’s Rebecca which I’d read many years ago, but somehow this one had escaped me. For those of you not already familiar with the book, it relates the story of Philip Ashley, whose privileged life on his ancestral Cornwall estate is turned upside-down by a sophisticated and mysterious older woman.  Orphaned at a young age, Philip was raised by his bachelor uncle Ambrose, who falls in love and marries while traveling in Florence.  When Ambrose dies under suspicious circumstances, Philip is determined to hate “his cousin” Rachel forever — that is until she shows up at the estate and Philip, too, falls under her spell.

If you enjoy historical fiction, and a little romance with your mystery, then this is a good fit for your late-night or rainy-day reading.

Although I enjoy James Patterson and Harlan Coben it’s nice to come across a solid suspense novel by someone else. City of the Sun grabs you from the beginning as 12 year old Jamie Gabriel disappears while on his morning paper route. We come to understand his parents desperation as month after month passes with one dead end after another. As all hope of finding Jamie is essentially lost, the Gabriels’ last plea for some closure comes from a former police officer turned private detective, Frank Behr. This colorful character adds his own tortured subplot to the story. We finally learn that Jamie’s disappearance is related to the youth slave trade. With renewed hope Frank and Jamie’s father track down the ring in Cuidad del Sol – the City of the Sun. The ending is climactic to say the least.

David Levien writes concisely yet allows you to feel the overwhelming emotions of the characters involved. The story is tense and exciting; well worth reading!