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There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'Unlikely Animals'

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“Emma Starling didn’t come into Everton the way that took her by Maple Street Cemetery... She didn’t drive by the town square either, so she missed the celebratory sight when the four men and two teenage boys finally caught the wild boar...Boars aren’t native to New Hampshire, but here in Everton, they often dig out underneath the electric fence to escape the private hunting park that spans the Upper Valley.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are some lines from chapter one of Annie Hartnett’s novel Unlikely Animals. Emma is returning home after dropping out of medical school. When she was born the midwife insisted she had miracle healing powers in her hands but now she is sure the healing power has left her.

Her parents and adult brother live in a caretakers home near a private hunting park that includes deer, bear and boars. She’s also come home because her father is dying of a brain disease that causes him to hallucinate. The family thinks that’s why he talks to Ernest Harold Baynes, a real life Doctor Doolittle who was a naturalist for the park almost a century ago. Her father is also obsessed in finding out what happened to Emma’s high school friend, Crystal Nash, who disappeared without a trace.

As the story progresses, Emma is talked into substitute teaching for the local fifth grade class because their teacher is on leave dealing with her husband’s trial for drug trafficking. Cemetery ghosts weigh in on what’s happening in the town, Emma grows to love her students and the hunt for Crystal continues until the surprise ending.

The author was inspired to write this novel after driving by the actual New Hampshire hunting park and reading about the naturalist Ernest Baynes.

If you’re looking for a fun book with memorable characters and a light mystery then you must read Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett.

Betty Martin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Lutheran pastor and his organist wife. Betty’s love of books was inspired by her father who read to all four children each night.