Sunday, August 31, 2008

"The Children of Black Valley"

New from Bleak House Books: The Children of Black Valley by Evan Kilgore.

About the book, from the publisher:

There is an abandoned nuclear silo in the jungles of Africa. Sam Mackie isn’t sure what it has to do with him, with his life. He’s a mid-level pharmaceutical executive. He’s divorced. He’s lonely.

But then someone kidnaps his son, Daniel. Daniel, the quiet kid who other boys picked on in school. Daniel, who understood how much his father had to work, and ate pizza alone for dinner most nights. Daniel, the only good part of Sam’s life.

Sam will do anything to get him back, including traveling halfway around the world to discover the link between his son, the dark nuclear silo, and his own mysterious past.
Visit Evan Kilgore's website.

"Obscene in the Extreme"

New from PublicAffairs: Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath by Rick Wartzman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Few books have caused as big a stir as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, when it was published in April 1939. By May, it was the nation’s number one bestseller, but in Kern County, California-the Joads’ newfound home-the book was burned publicly and banned from library shelves. Obscene in the Extreme tells the remarkable story behind this fit of censorship. When W. B. “Bill” Camp, a giant cotton and potato grower, presided over its burning in downtown Bakersfield, he declared: “We are angry, not because we were attacked but because we were attacked by a book obscene in the extreme sense of the word.” But Gretchen Knief, the Kern County librarian, bravely fought back. “If that book is banned today, what book will be banned tomorrow?” Obscene in the Extreme serves as a window into an extraordinary time of upheaval in America-a time when, as Steinbeck put it, there seemed to be “a revolution ... going on.”

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Toros & Torsos"

New from Bleak House Books: Toros & Torsos by Craig McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:

Hector Lassiter is a legendary crime novelist who writes what he lives and lives what he writes. But Hector frequently goes a step beyond, drawing friends and lovers into the tawdry and turbulent territory of his fiction. Now, the large-living pulp author has at last met his match in the ultimate performance artist: a phantom killer committed to the art of murder… a blood-thirsty provocateur who leaves a string of macabre tableaus modeled on famous works of surrealist painting and photography…

Against the vivid backdrops of a killer hurricane that nearly destroyed the Florida Keys in 1935, the Spanish Civil War, post-war Hollywood and the first days of the Castro regime in Cuba, Hector engages in a decades-long duel against a cabal of killer artists…

As in its Edgar®-nominated predecessor Head Games, history and myth merge, drawing on recent scholarship pointing to the existence of a dark underground of artists, photographers and art collectors that flourished in Europe and United States through most of the Twentieth Century.

In a blood-limned haze of love, deception, murderous metaphor and devastating betrayal, nothing is what it seems and obsession and creativity collide in a wicked and unexpected climax that will shake the art world to its foundations…
Visit McDonald's website and his Crimespace page.

Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in literary magazines, anthologies and several online crime fiction sites. His nonfiction books include Art in the Blood, a collection of interviews with 20 major crime authors, and Rogue Males: Conversations and Confrontations About the Writing Life, from Bleak House Books.

The Page 69 Test: Craig McDonald's Head Games.


New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain.

About the book, from the publisher:

With Heartsick, Chelsea Cain took the crime world by storm, introducing two of the most compelling characters in decades: serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her obsessed pursuer Portland Detective Archie Sheridan. The book spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered rave reviews around the world. But the riveting story of Archie and Gretchen was left unfinished, and now Chelsea Cain picks up the tale again.

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Portland’s Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the last time they found a body there, more than a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. This body can't be one of Gretchen's—she’s in prison—but after help from reporter Susan Ward uncovers the dead woman's identity, it turns into another big case. Trouble is, Archie can't focus on the new investigation because the Beauty Killer case has exploded: Gretchen Lowell has escaped from prison.

Archie hadn't seen her in two months; he'd moved back in with his family and sworn off visiting her. Though it should feel like progress, he actually feels worse. The news of her escape spreads like wildfire, but secretly, he's relieved. He knows he's the only one who can catch her, and in fact, he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all.

Chelsea Cain has topped her own bestselling debut thriller with this unputdownable, unpredictable, edge-of-your-seat read.
Read Ali Karim's Q & A with Chelsea Cain at The Rap Sheet.

Visit Chelsea Cain's website.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Tim and Tom"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White by Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen with Ron Rapoport.

About the book, from the publisher:

As the heady promise of the 1960s sagged under the weight of widespread violence, rioting, and racial unrest, two young men--one black and one white--took to stages across the nation to help Americans confront their racial divide: by laughing at it.

Tim and Tom tells the story of that pioneering duo, the first interracial comedy team in the history of show business--and the last. Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen polished their act in the nightclubs of Chicago, then took it on the road, not only in the North, but in the still-simmering South as well, developing routines that even today remain surprisingly frank--and remarkably funny--about race. Most nights, the shock of seeing an integrated comedy team quickly dissipated in uproarious laughter, but on some occasions the audience’s confusion and discomfort led to racist heckling, threats, and even violence. Though Tim and Tom perpetually seemed on the verge of making it big throughout their five years together, they grudgingly came to realize that they were ahead of their time: America was not yet ready to laugh at its own failed promise.

Eventually, the grind of the road took its toll, as bitter arguments led to an acrimonious breakup. But the underlying bond of friendship Reid and Dreesen had forged with each groundbreaking joke has endured for decades, while their solo careers delivered the success that had eluded them as a team. By turns revealing, shocking, and riotously funny, Tim and Tom unearths a largely forgotten chapter in the history of comedy.
Visit the Tim and Tom website.

"Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle"

New from Gotham Book: Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares by Mathew Honan.

About the book, from the publisher:

The complete list of all the little things Barack Obama has done for you

America has fallen in love with Barack Obama for his impassioned rhetoric, his commitment to change, and his hope for a brighter future. But what about the time he tuned up your guitar? Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle is the first book to chronicle all the lesser-known accomplishments of the freshman senator from Illinois, from finding your car keys to batting in the winning run for your softball team.

Mathew Honan, creator of the hit website, spent hundreds of thousands of hours on the campaign trail to bring you 366 examples of some of the things America’s sweetheart of a senator has done for you, including:
* Barack Obama shoveled the snow from your walkway
* Barack Obama checked under your bed for monsters
* Barack Obama danced with your mom at your sister's wedding
* When one of your vocalists came down with a nasty bronchitis bug, Barack Obama sang backup in your band
* Barack Obama left a comment on your blog
* Barack Obama warmed up your car for you
* Barack Obama followed your directions even though he was pretty sure his way was faster

A must-have compendium of the sweet things he has done for you, Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle is the only book that can do justice to the nicest man who ever lived.
Visit the Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle website.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"A Country Called Home"

Coming soon from Knopf: A Country Called Home by Kim Barnes.

About the book, from the publisher:

With her acclaimed memoir In the Wilderness Kim Barnes brought us to the great forests of Idaho, where geography and isolation shape love and family. Now, in her luminous new novel, she returns to this territory, offering a powerful tale of hope and idealism, faith and madness.

It is 1960 when Thomas Deracotte and his pregnant wife, Helen, abandon a guaranteed future in upper-crust Connecticut and take off for a utopian adventure in the Idaho wilderness. They buy a farm sight unseen and find the buildings collapsed, the fields in ruins. But they have a tent, a river full of fish, and acres overgrown with edible berries and dandelion greens. Helen learns to make coffee over a fire as they set about rebuilding the house. Though Thomas discovers he can’t wield a hammer or an ax, there is a local boy, Manny—a sweet soul of eighteen without a family of his own—who agrees to manage the fields in exchange for room and board. Their optimism and desire carry them through the early days.

But the sudden, frightening birth of Thomas and Helen’s daughter, Elise, changes something deep inside their marriage. And then, in the aftermath of a tragic accident to which only Manny bears witness, suspicion, anger, and regret come to haunt this shattered family. It is a legacy Elise will inherit and struggle with, until she ultimately finds a hope of her own.

In this extraordinary novel, Kim Barnes reminds us of what it means to be young and in love, to what lengths people will go to escape loneliness, and the redemption found in family.

"The Snow's Music"

New from LSU Press: The Snow's Music: Poems by Floyd Skloot.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Snow's Music continues award-winning poet Floyd Skloot's lyrical and narrative explorations of memory, love, loss, and artistic expression. At once musical and precise, formal and fluid, Skloot's poems balance inner and outer vision, past and present experience, meditation and observation, humor and sadness. Skloot explores human resilience in the face of sudden change and radical shifts of perception that define creative endeavor when the world refuses to cohere.

Whether the author is recalling lessons learned as a young actor in the role of a Shakespearean clown, thinking about the painter Georges Braque reassembling himself after wartime head injuries, or imagining his volatile parents reunited in the afterlife following his mother's death at age ninety-six, Skloot's accessible poems move and delight, creating his most emotional and engaging work yet.
Visit Floyd Skloot's website.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"How Far Is the Ocean from Here"

New from Shaye Areheart Books: How Far Is the Ocean from Here by Amy Shearn.

About the book, from the publisher:

Susannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in the days before her delivery date, panics. Jumping into her car, she flees her Chicago home and a few days later pulls up to a bleak motel in the Southwest—the Thunder Lodge. There, she encounters misfits, much like herself, who also carry secrets: the motel’s terse proprietors, their mentally disabled son, and a woman transporting her niece to the father she’s never met. But when the parents of Susannah’s baby discover her whereabouts, she can no longer ignore the profound power she holds over their lives.

Beautifully written, How Far Is the Ocean from Here explores the ways in which people care for one another and the ways in which they fail, the kinds of families we create when we have no one else to turn to, and the strangeness and unpredictability of love.
Visit Amy Shearn's website.

"Written in Blood"

New from Signet: Written in Blood: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery by Sheila Lowe.

About the book, from the publisher:

The widow of a rich, older man, Paige Sorensen is younger than—and hated by—her stepchildren. And they’re dead set on proving that she forged their father’s signature on his will, which left his entire estate, including the Sorensen Academy for Girls, to her. Claudia admits she’s intrigued by this real-life soap opera, and breaks her first rule: never get personally involved. But she’s grown attached to a troubled Sorensen student—and when disaster strikes, she’ll realize that reading between the lines can mean the difference between life and death…
Visit Sheila Lowe's website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


New from Mira Books: 14 by J.T. Ellison.

About the book:

Ten victims, each with pale skin and long dark hair. All have been slashed across the throat, the same red lipstick smeared across their lips.

In the mid-1980s the Snow White Killer terrorized the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Then suddenly the murders stopped. A letter from the killer to the police stated that his work was done.

Now four more bodies are found, marked with his fatal signature. The residents of Nashville fear a madman has returned, decades later, to finish his sick fairy tale.

Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson believes the killings are the work of a copycat killer who's even more terrifying. For this monster is meticulously honing his craft as he mimics famous serial murders…proving that the past is not to be forgotten.
Watch the video trailer for 14.

Learn more about the author and her writing at J.T. Ellison's website and MySpace page.

The Page 69 Test: All the Pretty Girls.

"A Darker Side"

Recently from Soho Constable: A Darker Side by Shirley Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:

Forensic psychologist Jill Kennedy has given up police work for a quiet life in the Lancashire village of Kelton Bridge, but when Martin Hayden, a seventeen-year-old schoolboy, is murdered, DCI Max Trentham, Jill’s ex-colleague, wants her back at work. As they hunt Martin’s killer, they discover that nothing is as it seems.

When the killer strikes again, Jill and Max find themselves in a desperate race against time.
Visit Shirley Wells' website and her blog.

Monday, August 25, 2008


New from Shaye Areheart Books/Random House: Tethered by Amy MacKinnon.

About the book, from the publisher:

Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.

It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.
Visit Amy MacKinnon's website.

"Waiting for An Ordinary Day"

New from PublicAffairs: Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi.

About the book, from the publisher:

A Wall Street Journal correspondent's wrenching portrait of ordinary Iraqis, their lives possessed by "the genie of terrorism chaos and mayhem" unleashed by the American invasion

Since 2003, Iraq's bloody legacy has been well-documented by journalists, historians, politicians, and others confounded by how Americans were seduced into the war. Yet almost no one has spoken at length to the constituency that represents Iraq's last best hope for a stable country: its ordinary working and middle class.

Farnaz Fassihi, The Wall Street Journal's intrepid senior Middle East correspondent, bridges this gap by unveiling an Iraq that has remained largely hidden since the United States declared their "Mission Accomplished." Fassihi chronicles the experience of the disenfranchised as they come to terms with the realities of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In an unforgettable portrait of Iraqis whose voices have remained eerily silent—from art gallery owners to clairvoyants, taxi drivers to radicalized teenagers—Fassihi brings to life the very people whose goodwill the U.S. depended upon for a successful occupation. Haunting and lyrical, Waiting for An Ordinary Day tells the long-awaited story of post-occupation Iraq through native eyes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Rock & Roll Never Forgets"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Rock & Roll Never Forgets by Deborah Grabien.

About the book, from the publisher:

The last thing the members of Hall of Fame rock & roll band Blacklight need to hear is that ruthless tabloid biographer Perry Dillon is planning a tell-all history of their group. The issue hits hardest for English ex-pat guitarist JP Kinkaid; with his history of heroin addiction and deportation, his estranged wife, and his long-term relationship with a girl he met when she was a teenager, JP has the most to lose. Dealing with his multiple sclerosis doesn’t make things any easier.

When he sits down with Dillon, JP’s main concern is to preserve both his own privacy and that of Bree Godwin, his fiercely protective longtime girlfriend. But it’s obvious from the first question that Dillon is digging deep. And he’s not planning to stop until he hits rock bottom.

Dillon’s looking for trouble, the kind of trouble that garners publicity and sells books. What he finds is the kind of trouble someone will go to any length to cover up, and that includes murder.

Opening night at Madison Square Garden encores with a corpse in JP’s dressing room, leaving Blacklight in the middle of a media frenzy---and Bree as homicide lieutenant Patrick Ormand’s prime suspect.

Rock & Roll Never Forgets, the first JP Kinkaid mystery, offers an all-access pass to how musicians work, live, and love.
Visit Deborah Grabien's website and blog.

"Courage in Patience"

New from Kunati Books: Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum.

About the novel:

Ashley Nicole Asher’s life changes forever on the night her mother, Cheryl, meets Charlie Baker. Within a year of her mother’s marriage to Charlie, typical nine-year-old Ashley’s life becomes a nightmare of sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Bundling her body in blankets and sleeping in her closet to try to avoid Charlie's nighttime assaults, she is driven by rage at age 15 to tell her mother, in spite of the threats Charlie has used to keep Ashley silent. Believing that telling will make Charlie go away, instead it reveals to Ashley where she lies on her mother's list of priorities.

“We’re just going to move on now,” Cheryl tells Ashley. “Go to your room.” Ashley's psyche splinters into shards of glass, and she desperately tries to figure a way out, while at the same time battling numbness and an inability to remember what happened when she blacked out after Charlie tackled her. She knew that when she awoke her clothes were disheveled and the lower-half of her body was covered in bright red blood-- but she has only a blank spot in the "video" of her memory. When Ashley’s friend, Lisa, sees a note from Cheryl telling Ashley that Charlie would never “do those things to her,” and insisting that she apologize for accusing him of molesting her, Lisa forces dazed Ashley to make an outcry to her teacher, Mrs. Chapman.

By the end of the day, Ashley’s father, David, who has not seen Ashley since she was three months old, is standing in the offices of Child and Family Services. He brings her home to the small East Texas town of Patience, where he lives with his wife, Beverly, their son, Ben, and works with his brother, Frank. Its neighboring town, Six Shooter City, is so quirky, it's practically on the cusp of an alternate universe; a trip to the Wal-Mart reveals to visitors that "there's either something in the water..or family trees around here don't fork."

Through the summer school English class/ Quest for Truth taught by Beverly, an "outside-the-box" high school English teacher whose passion for teaching comes second only to her insistence upon authenticity, Ashley comes to know Roxanne Blake, a girl scarred outwardly by a horrific auto crash and inwardly by the belief that she is "Dr. Frankenstein's little experiment"; Wilbur "Dub" White, a fast-talking smart mouth whose stepfather is a white supremacist who nearly kills a man while Dub watches from the shadows, forcing Dub to realize that he cannot live with the person that he is, any longer; Zaquoiah “Z.Z.” Freeman, one of the few African-Americans in Patience, whose targeted-for-extinction family inherited the estate of one of Patience’s founding families and has been given the charge to "turn this godforsaken town on its head"; Hector "Junior" Alvarez, a father at sixteen whose own father was killed in prison, who works two jobs and is fueled by the determination to "do it right" for his son, "3", and his girlfriend, Moreyma; T.W. Griffin, whose football-coach father expects him to be Number One at everything, and whose mother naively believes that he is too young to think about sex; and Kevin Cooper, a not-so-bright football player with a heart of gold, whose mother, Trini, a reporter for the local paper, is instrumental in exposing the ugliness that is censorship.

Every person in the class is confronted with a challenge that they must face head-on. The choices they make will not be easy—but they will be life-altering. With the exception of her mother and step-father, Ashley is surrounded by people who overcome their fear to embrace authenticity and truth-- the only way to freedom. But will Ashley have the inner-fortitude to survive the journey to recovery and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Will Ashley find her voice, speak up for herself, and break the bondage of her abusive past?

Realizing "she's gonna need a lot more than we have," David and Bev enlist the help of Scott "Dr. Matt" Matthews, an experienced, slightly unconventional therapist who insists that Ashley can and must come out hiding in the closet in her mind.

The Chris Crutcher novel, Ironman, is taught by Beverly Asher in the summer school class. When T.W.’s overbearing parents read the book, they decide that the book should be censored, and they involve the pastor of Patience’s largest, most conservative church to lead the fight through the Purify Patience organization. Its mission is to cleanse Patience of Profanity, Promiscuity, and Parent-Bashing Pedagogy—all complaints the group has about the novel, Ironman. Its hidden agenda, however, is to return Patience to a time when "Patience was 100% white", "women knew their place","everyone had plenty of money", and "Christian values were taught in school."

The censoring, pseudo-Christian, white-supremacist, misogynist organization is exposed for what it is in a courageous move by one of its own (well..his mother threatens to twist his ear off if he doesn't speak up), isolating the pastor and causing most of his “flock” to deny they ever knew him. National and world press attention shine speculation on the dirty little secrets hidden in Patience, and its inhabitants are forced to examine their own values and beliefs.

Alone in the dark, Ashley must face her worst fears in a pivotal scene between her, Charlie, and her mother. Through this confrontation, Ashley at last finds the strength to advocate for her own right to exist in a world that is free of abuse. She, too, has found Courage in Patience.
Visit the Courage in Patience blog and Beth Fehlbaum's MySpace page.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"When the Guillotine Fell"

New from St. Martin's Press: When the Guillotine Fell: The Bloody Beginning and Horrifying End to France's River of Blood, 1791-1977 by Jeremy Mercer.

About the book, from the publisher:

How long did the guillotine’s blade hang over the heads of French criminals? Was it abandoned in the late 1800s? Did French citizens of the early days of the twentieth century decry its brutality? No. The blade was allowed to do its work well into our own time. In 1974, Hamida Djandoubi brutally tortured 22 year-old Elisabeth Bousquet in an apartment in Marseille, putting cigarettes out on her body and lighting her on fire, finally strangling her to death in the Provencal countryside where he left her body to rot. In 1977, he became the last person executed by guillotine in France in a multifaceted case as mesmerizing for its senseless violence as it is though-provoking for its depiction of a France both in love with and afraid of The Foreigner. In a thrilling and enlightening account of a horrendous murder paired with the history of the guillotine and the history of capital punishment, Jeremy Mercer, a writer well known for his view of the underbelly of French life, considers the case of Hamida Djandoubi in the vast flow of blood that France's guillotine has produced. In his hands, France never looked so bloody...
Visit Jeremy Mercer's website.

"The Big O"

New from Harcourt: the U.S. edition of Declan Burke's The Big O.

About the book, from the publisher:

Karen's easy life as a receptionist and armed robber is about to change. Rossi, her ex, is getting out of prison any day now. He'll be looking for his motorcycle, his gun, revenge, and the sixty grand he says is his. But he won't be expecting Ray, the new guy Karen's just met, to be in his way. No stranger to the underworld himself, Ray wants out of the kidnapping game now that some dangerous new bosses are moving in.

Meanwhile Frank, a disgraced plastic surgeon, hires Ray to kidnap his ex-wife for the insurance money. But the ex-wife also happens to be Karen's best friend. Can Karen and Ray trust each other enough to work together on one last job? Or will love, as always, ruin everything?

From a writer hailed as "Elmore Leonard with a hard Irish edge" (Irish Mail on Sunday), Declan Burke's The Big O is crime fiction at its darkest and funniest.
The Page 99 Test: The Big O (Irish edition).

Friday, August 22, 2008

"The Heretic's Daughter"

New from Little Brown: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

About the book, from the publisher:

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

"Last Call"

New from Capital Press: Last Call by JD Seamus.

About the book, from the publisher:

Far from being a saint, Jimmie Collins has amassed a small fortune fencing things that ‘fall off the back of trucks’. Happens a lot in Manhattan. Life takes an unexpected turn when he receives the news he has cancer and is forced to prepare for the inevitable. To take care of his family financially, Jimmie has to find someone to go overseas and bring back his laundered fortune. He turns not to his friends but to a bookie who assures him that he has “just the right guy for the job.” The money never comes though and it isn’t until Jimmie is dead that his friends realize something is amiss. Who took Jimmie’s money and why? Can Jimmie’s friends find the culprit and right this terrible wrong? You bet and when his buddies come to the rescue, the adventure begins.

Last Call is a surprisingly rich and atmospheric whodunit. Part mystery, part comedy, and part action-adventure, the novel chronicles in sparkling style the lives of a diverse group who frequent Jimmie Collins’ bar, fall in and out of love, and come together to help their good friend. Last Call is sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic as the hapless friends rally their forces to do what any good friends would: Save the day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The Man in the Blizzard"

New from Three Rivers Press: The Man in the Blizzard by Bart Schneider.

About the book, from the publisher:

If Marlowe lived in Minnesota . . .
If Spade spouted poetry . . .
If the Big Lebowski were a small-time private eye . . .
Meet Augie Boyer, private detective

Private eye Augie Boyer is out of sorts. He’s been smoking too much Pontchartrain Pootie, his favorite varietal herb, and scarfing down an excess of fried food. He can’t stop thinking of his ­therapist wife, who left him for another therapist, and despite his new girlfriend’s best efforts, Augie’s testosterone levels have sunk lower than the winter temperatures of Minneapolis.

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, a beautiful, blond violinist with multiple personalities walks into Augie’s office. She draws him into a complex case that involves neo-Nazi violin collectors, mind-control specialists, and thousands of antiabortion activists who’ve come to the Twin Cities for a rally that will bring new meaning to Labor Day. But when Augie uncovers an assassination plot, he must scramble to prevent a deranged act of political violence that strikes dangerously close to home.

With wit, compassion, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, Bart Schneider creates a lovable yet flawed character and delivers a thrilling contemporary tale.
Visit Bart Schneider's website.

"The Little Book"

New from Dutton: The Little Book by Selden Edwards.

About the book, from the publisher:

An irresistible triumph of the imagination more than thirty years in the making, The Little Book is a breathtaking love story that spans generations, ranging from fin de siècle Vienna through the pivotal moments of the twentieth century.

The Little Book is the extraordinary tale of Wheeler Burden, California-exiled heir of the famous Boston banking Burdens, philosopher, student of history, legend’s son, rock idol, writer, lover of women, recluse, half-Jew, and Harvard baseball hero. In 1988 he is forty-seven, living in San Francisco. Suddenly he is—still his modern self—wandering in a city and time he knows mysteriously well: fin de siècle Vienna. It is 1897, precisely ninety-one years before his last memory and a half-century before his birth.

It’s not long before Wheeler has acquired appropriate clothes, money, lodging, a group of young Viennese intellectuals as friends, a mentor in Sigmund Freud, a bitter rival, a powerful crush on a luminous young American woman, a passing acquaintance with local celebrity Mark Twain, and an incredible and surprising insight into the dashing young war-hero father he never knew.

But the truth at the center of Wheeler’s dislocation in time remains a stubborn mystery that will take months of exploration and a lifetime of memories to unravel and that will, in the end, reveal nothing short of the eccentric Burden family’s unrivaled impact on the very course of the coming century. The Little Book is a masterpiece of unequaled storytelling that announces Selden Edwards as one of the most dazzling, original, entertaining, and inventive novelists of our time.
Visit Selden Edwards' website.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"The Grift"

New from Shaye Areheart Books: The Grift by Debra Ginsberg.

About the book, from the publisher:

What happens when a pseudo psychic suddenly gets the real gift?

Marina Marks has been on the grift as a psychic since she was a child, forced into the business by a junkie mother who was always desperate for her next fix—and willing to use her solemn dark-haired daughter to peddle an extra buck. As an adult, Marina has earned a handsome living preying on the dreams and fears of her clients. She doesn’t believe there is such a thing as psychic ability, but she does believe in intuition. Her gift is the ability to gain the trust of her clients and subtly raise her fees as they become more attached to her and her readings.

But when Marina moves her “intuitive counseling” business out of muggy, cloying Florida to the milder environs of southern California, her past follows her. As she takes on new clients—a trophy wife desperate to bear a child, a gay man involved with a closeted psychiatrist, and a philandering businessman who’s smitten with her—a former client resurfaces in an eerie way. Suddenly, Marina is in love for the first time, but it is a romance whose roots lie deep in her past and threaten her efforts to reinvent herself.

As Marina’s life gets more and more entangled with those of her clients, she makes a startling discovery: she suddenly has the actual ability to see the future. After predicting a murder exactly as it happens, she becomes the sole suspect. Now she’s the desperate one—desperate to clear her name and to discover the meaning behind her visions.
Visit Debra Ginsberg's website.

"The Last Queen"

New from Ballantine Books: The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner.

About the book, from the publisher:

Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries an enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C. W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus’s discoveries. At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents’ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII.

Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire. At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders. But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything.

With brilliant, lyrical prose, novelist and historian C. W. Gortner conjures Juana through her own words, taking the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England. The Last Queen brings to life all the grandeur and drama of an incomparable era, and the singular humanity of this courageous, passionate princess whose fight to claim her birthright captivated the world.
Visit C. W. Gortner's website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"The Muslim Next Door"

New from White Cloud Press: The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing by Sumbul Ali-Karamali.

About the book, from the publisher:

Since 9/11, stories about Muslims and the Islamic world have flooded headlines, politics, and water-cooler conversations all across the country. And, although Americans hear about Islam on a daily basis, there remains no clear explanation of Islam or its people. The Muslim Next Door offers easy-to-understand yet academically sound answers to these questions while also dispelling commonly held misconceptions. Written from the point of view of an American Muslim, the book addresses what readers in the Western world are most curious about, beginning with the basics of Islam and how Muslims practice their religion before easing into more complicated issues like jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and the status of women in Islam. Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s vivid anecdotes about growing up Muslim and female in the West, along with her sensitive, scholarly overview of Islam, combine for a uniquely insightful look at the world’s fastest growing religion.
Visit Sumbul Ali-Karamali's website.

"What Happened to Anna K."

New from Touchstone: What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn.

About the book, from the publisher:

A mesmerizing debut novel that reimagines Tolstoy's classic tragedy, Anna Karenina, for our time

Vivacious thirty-seven-year-old Anna K. is comfortably married to Alex, an older, prominent businessman from her tight-knit Russian-Jewish immigrant community in Queens. But a longing for freedom is reignited in this bookish, overly romantic, and imperious woman when she meets her cousin Katia Zavurov's boyfriend, an outsider and aspiring young writer on whom she pins her hopes for escape. As they begin a reckless affair, Anna enters into a tailspin that alienates her from her husband, family, and entire world.

In nearby Rego Park's Bukharian-Jewish community, twenty-seven-year-old pharmacist Lev Gavrilov harbors two secret passions: French movies and the lovely Katia. Lev's restless longing to test the boundaries of his sheltered life powerfully collides with Anna's. But will Lev's quest result in life's affirmation rather than its destruction?

Exploring struggles of identity, fidelity, and community, What Happened to Anna K. is a remarkable retelling of the Anna Karenina story brought vividly to life by an exciting young writer.
Visit Irina Reyn's website.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Fresh Kills"

New from Putnam: Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Fresh Kills, the murder of John Sanders, Sr. on a New York street corner reunites his estranged and abused children, John, Jr. and Julia. While Julia struggles to keep things together on the home front, Junior, unhinged by his father's death, searches for the killer across the bleak, haunted landscape of his Staten Island hometown. Complicating Junior's pursuit are two police detectives: one, a former childhood friend; the other, a veteran cop who might have his own reasons to wish John, Sr. dead. Junior's affair with his high school sweetheart doesn’t exactly simplify the situation either, and his emotional state crumbles under the pressure coming at him from every side. When the opportunity for revenge presents itself, Junior must decide whether he will continue the chain of violence that has nearly destroyed his life, or give in to the possibility of a new beginning.
Visit Bill Loehfelm's website.

"The Turnaround"

New from Little, Brown: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos.

About the book, from the publisher:

On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever.

Thirty five years later, one survivor of that day reaches out to another, opening a door that could lead to salvation. But another survivor is now out of prison, looking for reparation in any form he can find it.
Listen to an excerpt from The Turnaround.

Visit the official George Pelecanos website.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Blood Memory"

Coming soon from Berkley/Penguin: Margaret Coel's Blood Memory.

About the book, from the publisher:

Catherine McLeod is an investigative reporter for the Journal, one of Denver’s major newspapers. Her recent coverage of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes filing a claim for twenty-seven million acres of their ancestral lands has made her the target for assassination. Her investigation uncovers a conspiracy involving her ex-husband’s wealthy family and state politicians. And as Catherine unravels the truth, she discovers some startling facts about her own heritage, making her would-be killer all the more desperate to find her…
Visit Margaret Coel's website.

"This Must Be the Place"

New from Riverhead: This Must Be the Place by Anna Winger.

About the book, from the publisher:

A charming and undeniably powerful debut novel set in Berlin about the friendship between a fading actor and a young married American woman who are both learning to live with the past.

Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany, if no longer a famous face. A former television star, he’s been dubbing Tom Cruise’s lines into German for fifteen years, since he returned from a failed attempt to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Now he finds himself nearing forty, alone and adrift.

In the apartment just below him, a young American woman named Hope is slipping further and further into herself. Having fled New York a month earlier to join her workaholic husband in Berlin, she finds herself more isolated than ever and unable to cope with the sense of foreboding created by the haunted city around her and the painful memories from the one she just left.

These two broken people form an unlikely friendship, at first out of loneliness, but then deepening out of genuine affinity. They are finally forced to reveal their secrets and examine their pasts, and, as a pair, they explore how to reconcile their hopes for the future with the ache of history that lingers, permanently, beneath the surface.

Funny, insightful, and moving, This Must Be the Place is an expertly crafted debut novel about the events that bind us together and the friendships that make and remake us whole.
Visit Anna Winger's website.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Stuff Dreams Are Made Of"

Coming soon from Oceanview Publishing: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of by Don Bruns.

About the book, from the publisher:

James Lessor and Skip Moore, (and their white box truck) are back. When Reverend Preston Cashdollar and his traveling tent revival come to town, James and Skip reinvent themselves--as holy rollers.

But these two aren’t seeking salvation; they’re seeking the Almighty dollar. After all, Cashdollar’s prosperity gospel draws thousands of people with open minds–and open wallets. With a few modifications to the truck, Less or Moore Catering is ready to roll, and the entrepreneurs are born again, intent on making a mint by selling meager meals to the hungry masses.

Cashdollar may preach about seeing the light, but his organization has a dark side of greed, corruption, and murder. What in the name of all that is holy have James and Skip gotten themselves into? This meals-on-wheels venture is more like hell on wheels.

As James and Skip seek the truth, they’ll learn that the stuff dreams are made of may be their worst nightmare. They’ll either need to keep the faith, or run like the devil.
Visit Don Bruns' website.

"City Dog"

New from Berkley/Penguin: City Dog by Alison Pace.

About the book, from the publisher:

After her divorce, Amy Dodge thought she’d finally write the next Great American Novel. Instead she’s written a bestselling children’s book series, Run, Carlie, Run! starring her adorable and spirited West Highland White terrier and a dashing (but fictional) Scottish explorer. When Carlie is offered a starring role in her own television show, and the explorer begins to take on a life of his own, Amy’s world takes a surreal turn.

But just when Amy starts thinking it’s a dog’s life after all, she figures out a way to make everything change. And though life in New York isn’t always a walk in the park, it might just take her exactly where she needs to be.
Visit Alison Pace's website.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage"

New from Bloomsbury: I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire.

About the book, from the publisher:

A provocative survey of marriage and what it has meant for society, politics, religion, and the home.

For ten thousand years, marriage—and the idea of marriage—has been at the very foundation of human society. In this provocative and ambitious book, Susan Squire unravels the turbulent history and many implications of our most basic institution. Starting with the discovery, long before recorded time, that sex leads to paternity (and hence to couplehood), and leading up to the dawn of the modern “love marriage,” Squire delves into the many ways men and women have come together and what the state of their unions has meant for history, society, and politics — especially the politics of the home.

This book is the product of thirteen years of intense research, but even more than the intellectual scope, what sets it apart is Squire’s voice and contrarian boldness. Learned, acerbic, opinionated, and funny, she draws on everything from Sumerian mythology to Renaissance theater to Victorian housewives’ manuals (sometimes all at the same time) to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic view of the many things marriage has been and meant. The result is a book to provoke and fascinate readers of all ideological stripes: feminists, traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives alike.
Visit Susan Squire's website.

"The Anglo Files"

New from W.W. Norton: The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall.

About the book, from the publisher:

Dispatches from the new Britain: a slyly funny and compulsively readable portrait of a nation finally refurbished for the twenty-first century.

Sarah Lyall, a reporter for the New York Times, moved to London in the mid-1990s and soon became known for her amusing and incisive dispatches on her adopted country. As she came to terms with its eccentric inhabitants (the English husband who never turned on the lights, the legislators who behaved like drunken frat boys, the hedgehog lovers, the people who extracted their own teeth), she found that she had a ringside seat at a singular transitional era in British life. The roller-coaster decade of Tony Blair’s New Labor government was an increasingly materialistic time when old-world symbols of aristocratic privilege and stiff-upper-lip sensibility collided with modern consumerism, overwrought emotion, and a new (but still unsuccessful) effort to make the trains run on time. Appearing a half-century after Nancy Mitford’s classic Noblesse Oblige, Lyall’s book is a brilliantly witty account of twenty-first-century Britain that will be recognized as a contemporary classic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Blue Mauritius"

New from Overlook Press: Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Stamps by Helen Morgan.

About the book, from the publisher:

Blue Mauritius is an adventure that begins at a ball on a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, and unfolds through discoveries of the legendary stamp in Bordeaux, Mauritius, India, and Britain. It is the fascinating story of the birth of philately, the first collectors, and those who hunt the the world’s most sought after postage stamps.
Visit the Blue Mauritius Research Companion.

"The Bible Salesman"

New from Little, Brown: The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton.

About the book, from the publisher:

Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing two chain saws and 1600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the Army during the Second World War. Back on the road in post-war North Carolina, a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up hitch-hiking Henry Dampier, an innocent nineteen-year-old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as just the associate he needs--one who will believe Clearwater is working as an F.B.I. spy; one who will drive the cars Clearwater steals as Clearwater follows along in another car at a safe distance. Henry joyfully sees a chance to lead a dual life as Bible salesman and a G-man. During his hilarious and scary adventures we learn of Henry's fundamentalist youth, an upbringing that doesn't prepare him for his new life. As he falls in love and questions his religious training, Henry begins to see he's being used--that the fun and games are over, that he is on his own in a way he never imagined.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Angel's Tip"

New from Harper: Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a city full of victims . . . it's hard to choose just one.

Fresh-faced Indiana college student Chelsea Hart is so excited to spend the final hours of her spring break in the VIP room of an elite New York City club that she remains behind when her girlfriends call it a night. The next morning, as her concerned friends anxiously pace their hotel lobby, joggers find Chelsea's body in East River Park, her wavy blond hair brutally hacked off.

NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher catches the case and homes in on the group of privileged men who were last seen plying Chelsea with free-flowing alcohol. But before she can even gather the preliminary evidence, the gruesome murder is grabbing headlines and drawing unwanted media attention to the department. So when Ellie builds a tight case against Jake Myers, a young hedge fund manager, the department brass and the district attorney's office are elated: the case will soon be cleared, the media will tout the department's quick work, and Ellie will be a dream witness at the trial against Myers.

But Ellie has her doubts. Chelsea's murder is eerily similar to three other deaths that occurred nearly a decade ago: the victims were young, female, and in each case, the killer had taken her hair as a souvenir.

Ellie's investigation pulls her into a late-night world of exclusive clubs, conspicuous wealth, and hedonistic consumption. And her search for the truth not only pits her against her fellow cops but also places her under the watchful eye of a psychopath eager to add the prideful young female detective to his list.

Wrenching and suspenseful, Angel's Tip is an electric thriller that offers a voyeuristic glimpse into the glamorous but dangerous world of New York nightlife. This stunning whodunit proves yet again that Alafair Burke "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy" (Entertainment Weekly).
Visit Alafair Burke's website, Facebook page, MySpace page, and blog.

"Live a Little"

New from 5 Spot: Live a Little by Kim Green.

About the book, from the publisher:

-What do you do if you have two bratty teenage kids who don't give you the time of day?
-What do you do if your husband is more interested in his remote than you?
-What do you do if you're forever being compared to your perfect sister--who just happened to marry your perfect boyfriend?
-And what do you do if you're told you have stage 4 breast cancer?
Well, if you're Raquel Rose, you tell your family your diagnosis, and then you watch them go from treating you like dirt to treating you like a queen. Then you go on to raise unprecedented amounts of money for breast cancer research. You fulfill your early artistic promise. And you find you love this new life of yours, no matter how fleeting it may be.

So when the doctor calls to tell her that there was a mistake and she's actually perfectly healthy, instead of sharing her good news, Raquel can't relinquish the sudden attention and love from her family. Soon Raquel's lie by omission snowballs and the wise-cracking 40-something becomes a sought-after figure on her sister's popular talk show, elevating her "illness" to local rock star status. Her mistaken diagnosis becomes the fated opportunity to fix the glaring problems in her life--her stalled career as an artist, her lackluster marriage, her unappreciative children, and her highly dysfunctional family.

And while she wants to tell the truth, she's afraid to give it all up--would her family go back to taking her for granted? Would the donors rescind their checks if they think she was a fraud? In the end, it's up to Raquel to find her real "cure": an ending that befits the second chance she's been granted.
Visit Kim Green's website and her blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart"

New from Vandalia Press: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by M. Glenn Taylor.

About the book, from the official website:

Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nick-named for his lifelong oral affliction. In the West Virginia coal mine wars, a boy hardens quick when he picks up a gun. Exile is his trophy, and he spends his adult years on the run. He changes his name and plays a mean mouth harp, and he keeps on running from his past, all the way to Chicago. But trouble will sniff even an old man down, and an outlaw will eventually run home. Here, Trenchmouth Taggart's story, like the best ballads, etches its mark deep upon the memory.
Visit The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart website.

"The Forger's Spell"

New from Harper: The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick.

About the book, from the publisher:

As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man's mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.

It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger's success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.

ARTnews called Dolnick's previous book, the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist, "the best book ever written on art crime." In The Forger's Spell, the stage is bigger, the stakes are higher, and the villains are blacker.
Visit Edward Dolnick's website.

Check out Dolnick's list of nonfiction books with brilliant opening chapters.

Monday, August 11, 2008


New from Knopf: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt.

About the book, from the publisher:

Would you be surprised that road rage can be good for society? Or that most crashes happen on sunny, dry days? That our minds can trick us into thinking the next lane is moving faster? Or that you can gauge a nation’s driving behavior by its levels of corruption? These are only a few of the remarkable dynamics that Tom Vanderbilt explores in this fascinating tour through the mysteries of the road.

Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the everyday activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological, and technical factors that explain how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving says about us. Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He shows how roundabouts, which can feel dangerous and chaotic, actually make roads safer—and reduce traffic in the bargain. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots.

The car has long been a central part of American life; whether we see it as a symbol of freedom or a symptom of sprawl, we define ourselves by what and how we drive. As Vanderbilt shows, driving is a provocatively revealing prism for examining how our minds work and the ways in which we interact with one another. Ultimately, Traffic is about more than driving: it’s about human nature. This book will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us. And who knows? It may even make us better drivers.
Read more about Traffic at the Knopf website, and learn more about Tom Vanderbilt's work.

Writers Read: Tom Vanderbilt.

"Black Ship"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Carola Dunn's Black Ship: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1925, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, her husband, Alec Fletcher (a Scotland Yard Detective) and their new twin infant children inherit and move to a new, larger house on the outskirts of London proper, in a stage of slight disrepair (thanks to an aged, now deceased, uncle). Set in a small circle of houses and a communal garden, it seems a near idyllic setting. That is until a dead body turns up half-hidden under the bushes of the communal garden, rumors of bootleggers, American gangsters, and an international liquor smuggling operation via black ships turn everything upside down. And it's up to Daisy - well, Alec with some help from Daisy - to find out who the dead man is, why he was murdered and who did him in!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"For the Thrill of It"

New from Harper: For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz.

About the book, from the publisher:

It was a crime that shocked the nation, a brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 of a child, by two wealthy college students who killed solely for the thrill of the experience. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb had first met several years earlier, and their friendship had blossomed into a love affair. Both were intellectuals—too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. However, the police had recovered an important clue at the scene of the crime—a pair of eyeglasses—and soon both Leopold and Loeb were in the custody of Cook County. They confessed, and Robert Crowe, the state's attorney, announced to newspaper reporters that he had a hanging case. No defense, he believed, would save the two ruthless killers from the gallows.

Set against the backdrop of the 1920s, a time of prosperity, self-indulgence, and hedonistic excess, For the Thrill of It draws the reader into a lost world, a world of speakeasies and flappers, of gangsters and gin parties, that existed when Chicago was a lawless city on the brink of anarchy. The rejection of morality, the worship of youth, and the obsession with sex had seemingly found their expression in this callous murder.

But the murder is only half the story. After Leopold and Loeb were arrested, their families hired Clarence Darrow to defend their sons. Darrow, the most famous lawyer in America, aimed to save Leopold and Loeb from the death penalty by showing that the crime was the inevitable consequence of sexual and psychological abuse that each defendant had suffered during childhood at the hands of adults. Both boys, Darrow claimed, had experienced a compulsion to kill, and therefore, he appealed to the judge, they should be spared capital punishment. However, Darrow faced a worthy adversary in his prosecuting attorney: Robert Crowe was clever, cunning, and charismatic, with ambitions of becoming Chicago's next mayor—and he was determined to send Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb to their deaths.

A masterful storyteller, Simon Baatz has written a gripping account of the infamous Leopold and Loeb case. Using court records and recently discovered transcripts, Baatz shows how the pathological relationship between Leopold and Loeb inexorably led to their crime.

This thrilling narrative of murder and mystery in the Jazz Age will keep the reader in a continual state of suspense as the story twists and turns its way to an unexpected conclusion.

"Sweet Mandarin"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West by Helen Tse.

About the book, from the publisher:

Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women.

Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.

A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals. Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and tragically they lost the restaurant. It was up to author Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream. The legacy lived on when the sisters opened their award-winning restaurant Sweet Mandarin in 2004.

Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes--passed down the female line--can be the most valuable heirloom.
Visit the Sweet Mandarin website.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key"

New from Subterranean Press: Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key by Kage Baker.

About the book, from the publisher:

Subterranean Press is proud to present an exclusive pirate novel by the author of the acclaimed "Company" series.

His name is John James--at least, that's the name he gives to anyone asking. He's a former pirate just back in Port Royal from the sack of Panama, and he has every intention of settling down and leading a respectable life. First, though, he must honor a promise and deliver a letter to the mistress of one of his dead comrades.

But the lady is much more than she seems, and the letter turns out to contain detailed instructions for recovering a hidden fortune. It's one thing to know where treasure may be found; finding it, and keeping it, is quite another. On his quest for a prince's ransom John is joined by two unlikely allies: a black freedman named Sejanus Walker and a humble clerk named Winthrop Tudeley. Pirate attacks, hurricanes, shipwrecks, sharks, unearthly visitations and double-crosses follow. Especially double-crosses...
Visit Kage Baker's website.

"Mexican Enough"

New from Washington Square Press/Simon & Schuster: Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines by Stephanie Elizondo Griest.

About the book, from the publisher:

Growing up in a half-white, half-brown town and family in South Texas, Stephanie Elizondo Griest struggled with her cultural identity. Upon turning thirty, she ventured to her mother's native Mexico to do some root-searching and stumbled upon a social movement that shook the nation to its core.

Mexican Enough chronicles her adventures rumbling with luchadores (professional wrestlers), marching with rebel teachers in Oaxaca, investigating the murder of a prominent gay activist, and sneaking into a prison to meet with indigenous resistance fighters. She also visits families of the undocumented workers she befriended back home. Travel mates include a Polish thief, a Border Patrol agent, and a sultry dominatrix. Part memoir, part journalistic reportage, Mexican Enough illuminates how we cast off our identity in our youth, only to strive to find it again as adults -- and the lessons to be learned along the way.
Read an excerpt from Mexican Enough.

Visit Stephanie Elizondo Griest's website.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"The Lizard King"

New from Twelve Books: The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers by Bryan Christy.

About the book, from the publisher:

Imagine The Sopranos—with snakes!

When Bryan Christy began investigating the world of reptile smuggling, he had no idea what he would be in for. In the course of his research, he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by an alligator, sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula, and ejaculated on by a Bengal tiger. But perhaps most challenging was coming face to face with Michael J. Van Nostrand, owner of Strictly Reptiles, a thriving family business in Hollywood, Florida. To some, Michael is a dutiful son of Ray Van Nostrand, Sr., founder of the family business and a living legend among the snake-hunting set. But to Special Agent Chip Bepler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michael and his father are suspected smugglers and targets of a five-year investigation that has become his personal mission.

Strictly Reptiles imports as many as half of the green iguanas brought into the United States (America’s most popular imported reptile), and hundreds of thousands of snakes, frogs, turtles, spiders, and scorpions. The Lizard King is Christy’s evocative tour through the wild subculture of hunters, enthusiasts, and collectors willing to pay $175,000 for a rare African snake. It is the story of virtually every reptile for sale in America, and it is Christy’s personal story of his attraction to life’s underbelly, borne from his experiences in his family of morticians. Best of all, it is a tale of reptile smugglers, a family business, and a cat-and-mouse game with a federal agent determined to expose their cold-blooded crime.
Visit The Lizard King website.

"The Same Man"

New from Random House: The Same Man : George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War by David Lebedoff.

About the book, from the publisher:

One climbed to the very top of the social ladder, the other chose to live among tramps. One was a celebrity at twenty-three, the other virtually unknown until his dying days. One was right-wing and religious, the other a socialist and an atheist. Yet, as this ingenious and important new book reveals, at the heart of their lives and writing, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell were essentially the same man.

Orwell is best known for Animal Farm and 1984, Waugh for Brideshead Revisited and comic novels like Scoop and Vile Bodies. However different they may seem, these two towering figures of twentieth-century literature are linked for the first time in this engaging and unconventional biography, which goes beyond the story of their amazing lives to reach the core of their beliefs–a shared vision that was startlingly prescient about our own troubled times.

Both Waugh and Orwell were born in 1903, into the same comfortable stratum of England’s class-obsessed society. But at first glance they seem to have lived opposite lives. Waugh married into the high aristocracy, writing hilarious novels that captured the amoral time between the wars. He converted to Catholicism after his wife’s infidelity and their divorce. Orwell married a moneyless student of Tolkien’s who followed him to Barcelona, where he fought in the Spanish Civil War. She saved his life there–twice–but her own fate was tragic.

Waugh and Orwell would meet only once, as the latter lay dying of tuberculosis, yet as The Same Man brilliantly shows, in their life and work both writers rebelled against a modern world run by a privileged, sometimes brutal, few. Orwell and Waugh were almost alone among their peers in seeing what the future–our time–would bring, and they dedicated their lives to warning us against what was coming: a world of material wealth but few values, an existence without tradition or community or common purpose, where lives are measured in dollars, not sense. They explained why, despite prosperity, so many people feel that our society is headed in the wrong direction. David Lebedoff believes that we need both Orwell and Waugh now more than ever.

Unique in its insights and filled with vivid scenes of these two fascinating men and their tumultuous times, The Same Man is an amazing story and an original work of literary biography.