my take: a few years ago when bel canto was all the rage, i refused to read it. sometimes i push back against the book everybody's reading. and i still hadn't read any ann patchett until this was suggested to me if ann patchett's other books are as good as this, i've missed out and have lots of good reads coming.
this page turner has it all: well-developed characters, social issues, adventure, exotic location, a missing scientist ... so much to get lost in. i loved it.
this would be an excellent book club selection as it's chock-a-block full of issues and an ambiguous ending.
my source: thanks to Bea VanWinkle for suggesting!
my verdict: excellent.