Book Review

By Tom Mayer (

Article Published: Aug. 16, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 16, 2012
Book Review

One for him, one for her — and you get to decide which is which.

It’s high summer in the High Country, and there’s still time for another beach read — even if that beach comes with a mountain view, a rocking chair and a seasonal breeze found at 3,400 feet above sea level.

‘The 13th Tribe’

Before you open Robert Liparulo’s “The 13th Tribe (The Immortal Files),” make sure that rocking chair is capable of full throttle.

Best-selling author Liparulo’s newest thriller is a roller coaster that begins with the 12 tribes of Israel’s idol worship and plummets to the depth of hell on earth — in the form of a punishment meted out to the 13th tribe, a group of immortals destined to never see the face of God.

Not that that stops them from trying. For eons, the 13th tribe has attempted to earn its way into heaven by killing sinners — a twisted-logic story with elements that had long interested the author, Liparulo said in an interview.

“I’m fascinated by time,” Liparulo said. “The concept of time and the length of the human life has always intrigued me. How could one life in thousands of years matter? I’m saying, everything you do ripples throughout history. With the 13th tribe, I created people who would be there when those ripples hit.”

Those ripples hit hard. Armed with advanced technology, the tribe hews through anyone they deem unworthy – whether that attack involves the lives of millions, or the single family of a security guard stationed at an archeological site on Mt. Sinai.

As in previous novels, “Germ” and “Deadlock” come to mind, Liparulo’s grasp of real-world technology fuels his immortal vigilantes. The suit of invisibility that the tribe holds is a reality now.

“Technology is a tool in my stories, a color on the palette,” Liparulo said. “I use technology that exists, and I get to that by getting to the designer. I say, this is new, but what will it be like in five years? The invisi-suit — they have it exactly like it is in the book. It bends light around a person.”

More transparent, Liparulo uses the technology tool in “The 13th Tribe” for greater purpose: to explore the concept of justice.

“‘The 13th Tribe’ is my version of the ‘Indiana Jones (and the Last Crusade)’ story,” Liparulo said. “It has a lot of action, but if you really think about it, it’s theologically based. I wanted to explore frontier justice as a concept. When you go deep into what justice means, you look for a baseline. For me, that baseline is God. I wrote this as a story (first), but in there, these themes are percolating.”

For a summer read on full boil, “The 13th Tribe” is published in trade paperback by Thomas Nelson.

‘One Good Friend Deserves Another’

Turn down the boil and turn up the steam, and Lisa Verge Higgins’ “One Good Friend Deserves Another” bubbles to the surface.

Higgins’ mainstream debut was 2011’s “The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship,” and it was there this mother of three teenage daughters showcased a talent for stripping relationships — relationships between friends, lovers, family — down to their elements, only to rebuild them on firmer foundations.

Higgins’ characters are three-dimensional deep, and through well-woven and exotic plots, they are propelled out of comfort zones and into lives more full, more enriching. They begin to live.

The comfort to best friends Dhara, Kelly, Marta and Wendy is a set of rules they develop to guide them through the turbulence of men, affairs and matters of the heart: “1. Choose Your Own Man. 2. Make Sure Your Friends Approve. 3. No One-Night Stands. 4. Trust Your Instincts. 5. After a Break-up, Wait Six Months Before Dating Again.”

Wendy is headed to a society wedding with her long-time boyfriend. Kelly is satisfied in her singleness. Marta is in a solid relationship with a Cuban businessman. Indian-American Dhara is in a long-term love affair that appears to be everything she wants.

The rules work — until they don’t. In the case of Dhara, the breakdown comes when she finds out that appearances are more then deceiving, they’re heartbreaking. Heartbreak leads her to accept an arranged marriage — breaking all the rules and forcing an “intervention” by her friends.

But the rules were never meant to be a rigid chemical formula for happiness. Chemistry requires flexibility, the author said in an interview.

“It’s a cautionary tale,” Higgins said. “And a tale of opening your heart. Only by breaking the rules can you ever find true love.”

The prospect of finding true love is much on Higgins’ mind — not so much for herself as for her daughters.

“The book came from them,” Higgins said. “As a mother, you want to protect your children from heartache, so I developed the rules.”

But more than rules for emotional security, “One Good Friend” offers a glimpse into Indian-American culture that bristles against the concept of accepting friends for who they are — yet tempering that acceptance with well-intentioned meddling.

“How far do you go as a friend?” is a question the novel raises.

Other questions abound, and the surprise of this novel is that as Higgins’ characters find answers about themselves, you’ll do the same with your own life.

“One Good Friend” is Higgins’ 14th novel. An author with a doctoral degree in chemistry, Higgins published 12 historical novels in the 1990s before bouncing break from a break when her “three girls were young.” Now, the girls are in school and instead of returning to romances — “Having children changes you,” Higgins said. “I wanted to write not only about women’s romantic lives, but their whole lives.” — the author is crafting fully nurtured stories.

“One Good Friend Deserves Another” is published in trade paperback by Grand Central Publishing.

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