Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Who is Conrad Hirst?"

Coming soon from Simon & Schuster: Who Is Conrad Hirst? by Kevin Wignall.

About the book, from the publisher:

Who is Conrad Hirst? Knowing the answer could get you killed. Not knowing could get him killed.

Conrad Hirst is a hired killer working for a German crime boss. Disturbed by the death of his girlfriend ten years earlier and still bearing the scars of post-traumatic stress after serving as a mercenary, he's valued precisely because of how broken he is, by how coldly he kills, by the solitary existence he leads.

But something has happened on Conrad's most recent job that's shattered his equilibrium and left him determined to quit. Fortunately for him, there's a simple way to leave the business and begin life anew: Only four people know who he is and what he's done -- kill those four people, and Conrad is a free man.

A simple plan, but life is never that simple, and as Conrad's scheme unravels, he quickly realizes he isn't the only one doing the killing. With the certainties of his life crumbling around him, he's no longer sure whom he's been working for, or why, or what they want of him now. In fact, he can't even answer the ever-looming and ominous question: Who is Conrad Hirst?

Fast-paced, dark, and disturbing, Kevin Wignall's newest page-turner is the story of a broken young man seeking retribution against those who have used him for their own gain, and of the devastating secret that fuels his anger. It is a story of identity and loss, of missed opportunities and the cruelty of fate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Crawfish Mountain"

New from Random House: Crawfish Mountain by Ken Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ken Wells’s highly acclaimed picaresque Catahoula Bayou novels introduced “one of the most compelling voices in fiction of the last decade” (Los Angeles Times). Now Wells is back, writing about his favorite subject–the exotic, beleaguered Louisiana wetlands – in a sharp, rollicking tale of corporate corruption and political shenanigans. The fight over one man’s tract of sacred marsh fronts a deeper story of our place in the environment and our obligations to it.

Justin Pitre’s marsh island, a legacy of his trapper grandfather, is a scenic rival to anything in the Everglades, and he has promised to protect it from all harm. But he hasn’t counted on oil bigwig Tom Huff’s plans to wreck his bayou paradise by ramming a pipeline through it. When cajolery doesn’t sway Justin to sign the land over, Huff turns to darker methods. But Justin and his spirited wife, Grace, prove to be formidable adversaries – and the game is on.

Into the fray comes the charismatic Cajun governor Joe T. Evangeline, who seems more interested in chasing skirts than saving Louisiana’s eroding coast. The Guv, though, is a man on the edge, upended by a midlife crisis and torn between a secret political obligation to Big Oil and the persuasive powers of Julie Galjour, a feisty environmentalist. Julie is clearly out to reform more than the Guv’s ecopolitics, but will his tragicomic Big Oil deals wreck both his career and his chances with the brash and beautiful activist?

As Justin and Grace battle to stop this Big Oil assault, the plot thickens – and the Guv becomes snared in the web. Featuring a gumbo of eccentrics and lowlifes, a kidnapping, a sexy snitch, a toxic-waste-dumping scheme, a boat chase, and a fishing trip gone horribly awry, Crawfish Mountain, spiced with Ken Wells’s keen eye for locale, showcases his adventurous storytelling.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"The Missing"

New from HarperCollins: Sarah Langan's The Missing.

About the book, from the publisher:

A remote and affluent Maine community, Corpus Christi was untouched by the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the neighboring blue-collar town of Bedford. But all that will change in a heartbeat ...

The nightmare is awakened when third-grade schoolteacher Lois Larkin takes the children on a field trip to Bedford. There in the abandoned woods, a small, cruel boy unearths an ancient horror — a contagious plague that transforms its victims into something violent, hungry ... and inhuman.

The long, dark night is just beginning. And all hope must die as the contagion feeds — for the malevolence will not rest until it has devoured every living soul in Corpus Christi ... and beyond.
Visit Sarah Langan's website.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Identical Strangers"

New from Random House: Identical Strangers by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein.

About the book, from the official website:

Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn't until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. When Elyse contacted her adoption agency, she was not prepared for the shocking, life-changing news she received: She had an identical twin sister. Elyse was then hit with another bombshell: she and her sister had been separated as infants, and for a time, had been part of a secret study on separated twins.

Paula Bernstein, a married writer and mother living in New York, also knew she was adopted, but had no inclination to find her birth mother. When she answered a call from the adoption agency one spring afternoon, Paula's life suddenly divided into two starkly different periods: the time before and the time after she learned the truth.

As they reunite and take their tentative first steps from strangers to sisters, Paula and Elyse are also left with haunting questions surrounding their origins and their separation. They learn that the study was conducted by a pair of influential psychiatrists associated with a prestigious adoption agency. As they investigate their birth mother's past, Paula and Elyse move closer toward solving the puzzle of their lives.

In alternating voices, Paula and Elyse write with emotional honesty about the immediate intimacy they share as twins and the wide chasm that divides them as two complete strangers. Interweaving eyeopening studies and statistics on twin science into their narrative, they offer an intelligent and heartfelt glimpse into human nature.

Identical Strangers is the amazing story of two women coming to terms with the strange and unbelievable hand fate has dealt them, an account that broadens the definition of family and provides insight into our own DNA and the singularly exceptional imprint it leaves on our lives.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Citrus: A History"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Pierre Laszlo's Citrus: A History.

About the book, from the publisher:

Walk into your local grocery store and down the produce aisle, and you’ll find a dazzling array of citrus, from navel oranges and clementines to grapefruit and key limes — and sometimes even more exotic fare like the Japanese yuzu, the baboon lemon, or the Ugli fruit, whose thick, wrinkly rind lends it its name. Nearly 100 million tons of citrus are produced globally every year, and in Florida alone, citriculture is a 9 billion dollar industry. But where did these fruits first come from? How did they find their way into the Western world? And how did they become both a culinary and cultural phenomenon?

Pierre Laszlo here traces the spectacular rise and spread of citrus across the globe: from Southeast Asia in 4000 BC through North Africa and the Roman Empire to early modern Spain and Portugal, whose explorers introduced the fruits to the Americas during the 1500s. Blending scientific rigor with personal curiosity, Citrus ransacks over two millennia of world history, exploring the numerous roles that citrus has played in agriculture, horticulture, cooking, nutrition, religion, and art — from the Jewish feast of the Tabernacles through the gardens and courts of Versailles to the canvasses of Vincent van Gogh to the orange groves of southern California and the juicing industry of today.

Tropicana, Goethe, Matisse, Thomas Jefferson, the British Royal Navy — and, of course, citrus, all come into play in this wide-ranging but remarkably pithy book. A dazzling display of erudition, Citrus is popular science at its most compelling, history at its most searching — and a surprising page-turner.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Sundays with Vlad"

New from Three Rivers Press: Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead by Paul Bibeau.

About the book, from the official website:

At eight years old, Paul Bibeau had the footie pj’s scared off of him when his sister sprang out of a crawlspace in the dark wearing plastic fangs. It was the start of a lifelong fascination with vampires. Now a “grownup” journalist, he embarks on a quest to discover the story of how a second-rate Wallachian Prince named Vlad, inaccurately recounted in an odd little 19th century book by some guy named Stoker, became such a pervasive cultural icon.

Bibeau’s search for answers takes us on a rollicking journey that begins in Romania, as — on his honeymoon, no less — we visit the rubble of Vlad’s real castle and examine the mystery of the Count’s missing body, learning why his head might lie at the bottom of a well, smelling vaguely of Honey Smacks.

But those are just the first steps on a ride that traces Drac’s diaspora through the centuries. Soon Bibeau finds himself visiting live-action role playing conventions, learning the virtues of tight leather pants and eye shadow, chatting with a man who ran for governor of Minnesota on an “impalement” platform, and marching in a parade dressed as a bulb of garlic. Along the way, we meet journalists, Dracula experts, Transylvanian hookers, Bela Lugosi’s son … and some folks who actually like to snack on fresh human blood.

With a mixture of reverence, humor, and you-are-there reporting, Sundays with Vlad shines new light on the story of how Dracula has seeped into every corner of mass culture, becoming at once a multi-billion dollar industry, a touchstone for millions of goths and fantasy roleplayers, and. In doing so, it illuminates a fascinating underground society that usually only comes out at night — and shows us that they might not be so different from us after all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Marco Polo"

New from Knopf: Laurence Bergreen's Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu.

About the book, from the publisher:

As the most celebrated European to explore Asia, Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West. A universal icon of adventure and discovery, he has inspired six centuries of popular fascination and spurious mythology. Now, from the acclaimed author of Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (“Superb ... A first-rate historical page turner” — The New York Times) — comes the first fully authoritative biography of one of the most enchanting figures in world history. In this masterly work, Marco Polo’s incredible odyssey — along the Silk Road and through all the fantastic circumstances of his life — is chronicled in sumptuous and illuminating detail.

We meet him as a callow young man, the scion of a wealthy Venetian merchant family, only seventeen when he sets out in 1271 with his father and uncle on their journey to Asia. We see him gain the confidence of Kublai Khan, the world’s most feared and powerful leader, and watch him become a trusted diplomat and intelligence agent in the ruler’s inner circle. We are privy to his far-flung adventures on behalf of the Khan, living among the Mongols and other tribes, and traveling to magical cities, some far advanced over the West. We learn the customs of the Khan’s court, both erotic and mercantile, and Polo’s uncanny ability to adapt to them. We follow him on his journey back to Venice, laden with riches, the latest inventions, and twenty-four years’ worth of extraordinary tales.

And we see his collaboration with the famed writer Rustichello of Pisa, who immediately saw in Polo the story of a lifetime; enlivened by his genius for observation, Polo’s tales needed little embellishment. Recorded by Rustichello as the two languished as prisoners of war in a Genoese jail, the Travels would explode the notion of non-Europeans as untutored savages and stand as the definitive description of China until the nineteenth century.

Drawing on original sources in more than half a dozen languages, and on his own travels along Polo’s route in China and Mongolia, Bergreen explores the lingering controversies surrounding Polo’s legend, settling age-old questions and testing others for significance. Synthesizing history, biography, and travelogue, this is the timely chronicle of a man who extended the boundaries of human knowledge and imagination. Destined to be the definitive account of its subject for decades to come, Marco Polo takes us on a journey to the limits of history — and beyond.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"The Race"

New from Henry Holt & Co.: The Race by Richard North Patterson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Can an honest man become president? In this timely and provocative novel, a maverick candidate takes on his political enemies and the ruthless machinery of American politics

Corey Grace — a handsome and charismatic Republican senator from Ohio — is plunged by an act of terrorism into a fierce presidential primary battle with the favorite of the party establishment and a magnetic leader of the Christian right. A decorated Gulf War Air Force pilot known for speaking his mind, Grace’s reputation for voting his own conscience rather than the party line — together with his growing romance with Lexie Hart, an African-American movie star — has earned him a reputation as a maverick and an iconoclast. But Grace is still haunted by a tragic mistake buried deep in his past, and now his integrity will be put to the test in this most brutal of political contests, in which nothing in his past or present life is off-limits.

Depicting contemporary power politics at its most ruthless, The Race takes on the most incendiary issues in American culture: racism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, gay rights, and the rise of media monopolies with their own agenda and lust for power. As the pressure of the campaign intensifies, Grace encounters betrayal, excruciating moral choices, and secrets that can destroy lives. Ultimately, the race leads to a deadlocked party convention where Grace must resolve the conflict between his romance with Lexie and his presidential ambitions — and decide just who and what he is willing to sacrifice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Service Included"

New from William Morrow & Co.: Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch.

About the book, from the publisher:

Kitchen Confidential meets Sex and the City in this delicious, behind-the-scenes memoir from the first female captain at one of New York City's most prestigious restaurants

While Phoebe Damrosch was figuring out what to do with her life, she supported herself by working as a waiter. Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the culinary creation of master chef Thomas Keller.

Service Included is the story of her experiences there: her obsession with food, her love affair with a sommelier, and her observations of the highly competitive and frenetic world of fine dining.

She also provides the following dining tips:
  • Please do not ask your waiter what else he or she does.
  • Please do not steal your waiter's pen.
  • Please do not say you're allergic when you don't like something.
  • Please do not send something back after eating most of it.
  • Please do not make faces or gagging noises when hearing the specials — someone else at the table might like to order one of them.
After reading this book, diners will never sit down at a restaurant table the same way again.
Visit Phoebe Damrosch's website.

"The Toothpick"

New from Knopf: The Toothpick: Technology and Culture by Henry Petroski.

About the book, from the publisher:

Like The Pencil, Henry Petroski’s The Toothpick is a celebration of a humble yet elegant device. As old as mankind and as universal as eating, this useful and ubiquitous tool finally gets its due in this wide-ranging and compulsively readable book. Here is the unexpected story of the simplest of implements — whether made of grass, gold, quill, or wood — a story of engineering and design, of culture and class, and a lesson in how to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Petroski takes us back to ancient Rome, where the emperor Nero makes his entrance into a banquet hall with a silver toothpick in his mouth; and to a more recent time in Spain, where a young señorita uses the delicately pointed instrument to protect her virtue from someone trying to steal a kiss. He introduces us to Charles Forster, a nineteenth-century Bostonian and father of the American toothpick industry, who hires Harvard students to demand toothpicks in area restaurants — thereby making their availability in eating establishments as expected as condiments.

And Petroski takes us inside the surprisingly secretive toothpick-manufacturing industry, in which one small town’s factories can turn out 200 million wooden toothpicks a day using methods that, except for computer controls, haven’t changed much in almost 150 years. He also explores a treasure trove of the toothpick’s unintended uses and perils, from sandwiches to martinis and beyond.

With an engineer’s eye for detail and a poet’s flair for language, Petroski has earned his reputation as a writer who explains our world — from the tallest buildings to the lowliest toothpick — to us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Death by Rodrigo"

New from Simon & Schuster: Death by Rodrigo by Ron Liebman.

About the book, from the author's website:

When El Salvadoran crime boss Rodrigo Gonzalez is finally nabbed in Camden, New Jersey, for high-volume drug trafficking, he hires criminal defense attorneys Mickie Mezzonatti and Salvatore "Junne" Salerno, Jr. He's been told they're the best and that, as former Camden police officers, they know all the blind spots and loopholes (read: the ins and outs) of the local courts. All Rodrigo asks of Junne and Mickie is that they get him out on bond, so he can jump bail and escape back to the comforts of ElSalvador. Problem is, judge denies bail. Soon Mezzonatti and Salerno are receiving a few unwelcome guests - friends of Rodrigo - asking questions. And the boys need answers, fast...

Carl Hiaasen meets Steven Bochco. A fun and flashy first novel feature two New Jersery cops-turned-attorneys, their demanding drug lord client, and a surprizing twist.

"The Book of Vice"

New from HarperEntertainment: The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them) by Peter Sagal.

About the book, from the publisher:

Somewhere, somebody is having more fun than you are. Or so everyone believes. Peter Sagal, a mild-mannered, Harvard-educated NPR host — the man who put the second "L" in "vanilla" — decided to find out if it's true.

From strip clubs to gambling halls to swingers clubs to porn sets — and then back to the strip clubs, but only because he left his glasses there — Sagal explores exactly what the sinful folk do, how much they pay for the privilege, and exactly how they got those funny red marks. He hosts a dinner for three of the smartest porn stars in the world, asks the floor manager at the oldest casino in Vegas how to beat the house, and indulges in molecular cuisine at the finest restaurant in the country. Meet liars and rich people who don't think consumption is a disease, encounter the most spectacular view ever seen from a urinal, and say hello to Nina Hartley, the only porn star who can discuss Nietzsche while strangers smack her butt.

With a sharp wit, a remarkable eye for detail, and the carefree insouciance that can only come from not having any idea what he's getting into, Sagal proves to be the perfect guide to sinful behavior. What happens in Vegas — and in less glamorous places — is all laid out in these pages, a modern version of Dante's Inferno, except with more jokes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"High Season"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: High Season by Jon Loomis.

About the book, from the publisher:

Provincetown police detective Frank Coffin had been a well-respected Baltimore homicide detective. But when he started having panic attacks at crime scenes and fainting at the sight of corpses, he was forced to pack it in and go home to Cape Cod, where the most gruesome crimes confronting P’towns five year-round cops were usually break-ins, bicycle thefts and domestic disputes.

After eight uneventful years, a vacationing TV evangelist turns up dead on the beach at Herring Cove, wearing a wig, a pink-and-yellow muumuu, and a pair of size-twelve pumps. Not to mention the raspberry-colored taffeta scarf strangling his neck. Ordinarily, the Cape and Islands DA’s office and the State Police investigate major crimes on the Cape, but P’town’s powers-that-be are nervous. Coffin’s given a choice by the new police chief: investigate or lose his job.

So Frank and his partner, Officer Lola Winters, an ex--army MP, start out on the trail of a killer, visiting the restaurants and tourist spots the evangelist and his wife visited by day, and the drag bars and isolated trysting spots he might have frequented at night. As the body count begins to rise, however, it becomes alarmingly clear that this wasn’t an isolated incident: A killer with an agenda is at large in Provincetown.

Tracking a murderer is something Coffin hoped he’d never have to do again, and the experience triggers the same nightmares that plagued the end of his time in Baltimore. And if his life isn’t complicated enough, Frank’s girlfriend Jamie thinks she’s being stalked by an overzealous suitor; his senile mother is stirring up trouble at the nursing home; and everyone in town has a theory about who’s committing the murders.

Funny, sexy, and dark in equal measures, High Season is a mystery for anyone who’s ever fallen in love with a seaside town.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Dead of the Day"

Coming soon from Signet Books: Karen E. Olson's Dead of the Day.

About the book, from the author's website:

April has hit New Haven, Connecticut, bringing with it something less fragrant than May flowers: An unidentified body in the harbor.

The strange fact that there were bee stings on the floater gives New Haven Herald police reporter Annie Seymour an intriguing excuse to put her profile of the new police chief on hold — although the piece does become a lot more interesting when the subject is gunned down.

And this is only the beginning of a killer expose. As she connects the dots between the John Doe, police chief, and the city’s struggling immigrant population, Annie draws a line between herself and someone who doesn’t want her to learn the truth … or live to report it.

"Snake Oil Science"

New from Oxford University Press: Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker Bausell.

About the book, from the publisher:

Millions of people worldwide swear by such therapies as acupuncture, herbal cures, and homeopathic remedies. Indeed, complementary and alternative medicine is embraced by a broad spectrum of society, from ordinary people, to scientists and physicians, to celebrities such as Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey.

In the tradition of Michael Shermers Why People Believe Weird Things and Robert Parks's Voodoo Science, Barker Bausell provides an engaging look at the scientific evidence for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and at the logical, psychological, and physiological pitfalls that lead otherwise intelligent people -- including researchers, physicians, and therapists -- to endorse these cures. The books ultimate goal is to reveal not whether these therapies work -- as Bausell explains, most do work, although weakly and temporarily -- but whether they work for the reasons their proponents believe. Indeed, as Bausell reveals, it is the placebo effect that accounts for most of the positive results. He explores this remarkable phenomenon -- the biological and chemical evidence for the placebo effect, how it works in the body, and why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect will inevitably produce false results. By contrast, as Bausell shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals and systematic reviews, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for CAM therapies over and above those attributable to random chance.

Here is not only an entertaining critique of the strangely zealous world of CAM belief and practice, but it also a first-rate introduction to how to correctly interpret scientific research of any sort. Readers will come away with a solid understanding of good vs. bad research practice and a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest miracle cure, be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"What We Know About Climate Change"

New from the MIT Press: What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel.

About the book, from the publisher:

The vast majority of scientists agree that human activity has significantly increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere -- most dramatically since the 1970s. In February 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human-produced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are chiefly to blame, to a certainty of more than 90 percent. Yet global warming skeptics and ill-informed elected officials continue to dismiss this broad scientific consensus. In What We Know About Climate Change, MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel outlines the basic science of global warming and how the current consensus has emerged. Although it is impossible to predict exactly when the most dramatic effects of global warming will be felt, he argues, we can be confident that we face real dangers. Emanuel, whose work was widely cited in media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, warns that global warming will contribute to an increase in the intensity and power of hurricanes and flooding and more rapidly advancing deserts.

But just as our actions have created the looming crisis, so too might they avert it. Emanuel calls for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gases and criticizes the media for playing down the dangers of global warming (and, in search of "balance," quoting extremists who deny its existence).

An afterword by environmental policy experts Judith Layzer and William Moomaw discusses how the United States could lead the way in the policy changes required to deal with global warming.

"The Portable Obituary"

New from Harper Paperbacks: The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died by Michael Largo.

About the book, from the publisher:

Here at last is the definitive source book on the true causes of death of public figures –– providing the ultimate demise of heroes and icons, politicians and celebrities, inventors and explorers, business leaders and sports figures, as well as the unlikely endings of radicals, murderers, feminists, Nobel Prize winners, and others. Organized thematically, The Portable Obituary examines revealing details about how famous persons' deeds, intimate habits, and lifestyles –– good and bad –– ultimately influenced their mode of death and, in due course, determined their role in history and culture. Author Michael Largo makes clear that life, famous or not, can only be fully understood backwards. The true cause of death is often the one omitted detail of history, but in fact reveals the most poignant snapshot of an individual's life.

There is no other work that reviews the lives of the prominent, illustrious, and legendary from the cause of death vantage point, presenting unique, meaningful, and original thumbnail biographies. By using archeological records, published obituaries, techniques of forensic interpretation –– The Portable Obituary is a one–of–a–kind reference work.
Visit Michael Largo's website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Hitler's Judas"

New from VP Publishing: Hitler's Judas by Tom Lewis.

About the book, from the author's website:

Hitler's Judas is the second of a series of three books comprising the riveting Pea Island Gold trilogy.

THE STORY

In Hitler’s Judas, Tom Lewis introduces protagonist Martin Bormann. Bormann, possibly the closest man to Adolf Hitler, knows Hitler’s insane decision to invade Russia will destroy The Fatherland. Already in a position of enormous power, Bormann forms an intricate plan of escape. But Bormann has no intentions of escaping as a pauper.

When the right moment comes, Bormann leaves the doomed Third Reich forever, taking with him $50 million in stolen Nazi gold. His surprising destination is Pea Island, a lonely strip of sand north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Will his plan succeed?

Populated with exquisite, compelling, and memorable characters who will stay with readers long after the final page is turned, Hitler’s Judas introduces a remarkable supporting cast, including Horst Von Hellenbach, Germany’s celebrated U-Boat captain who detests war and the Nazi regime and is in terminal conflict with his sworn military duty; Elisabeth Kroll, an impressionable woman unable to choose between Horst or his twin brother Harold, a handsome, respected surgeon and fanatic Nazi; Edda Winter, Bormann’s mistress and talented actress who hopes Bormann will be her ticket to Hollywood; Klaus Berger, Germany’s most famous thespian, whose very life depends on how well he plays his most difficult role; and Sunday Everette, a stunning young black woman who stands in the way of Bormann and his goal.

Resplendent with historical detail, Hitler’s Judas is an intricate, moving and extraordinary tale of intrigue, murder and betrayal.

"The Year of Living Biblically"

New from Simon & Schuster: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs.

About the book, from the author's website:

The Year of Living Biblically is about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible. I obey the famous ones:
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Love thy neighbor
  • Be fruitful and multiply
But also, the hundreds of oft-ignored ones.
  • Do not wear clothes of mixed fibers.
  • Do not shave your beard
  • Stone adulterers
Why? Well, I grew up in a very secular home (I’m officially Jewish but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant). I’d always assumed religion would just wither away and we’d live in a neo-Enlightenment world. I was, of course, spectacularly wrong. So was I missing something essential to being a human? Or was half the world deluded?

I decided to dive in headfirst. To try to experience the Bible myself and find out what’s good in it, and what’s maybe not so relevant to the 21st century.

The resulting year was fascinating, entertaining and informative. It was equal parts irreverent and reverent. It was filled with surprising insights almost every day. (I know it’s not biblical to boast, so apologies for that).

The book that came out of the year has several layers.

-An exploration of some of the Bible’s startlingly relevant rules. I tried not to covet, gossip, or lie for a year. I’m a journalist in New York. This was not easy.

--An investigation of the rules that baffle the 21st century brain. How to justify the laws about stoning homosexuals? Or smashing idols? Or sacrificing oxen? And how do you follow those in modern-day Manhattan?

--A look at various fascinating religious groups. I embedded myself among several groups that take the Bible literally in their own way, from creationists to snake handlers, Hasidim to the Amish.

--A critique of fundamentalism. I became the ultra-fundamentalist. I found that fundamentalists may claim to take the Bible literally, but they actually just pick and choose certain rules to follow. By taking fundamentalism extreme, I found that literalism is not the best way to interpret the Bible.

--A spiritual journey. As an agnostic, I’d never seriously explored such things as sacredness and revelation.

--A memoir of my family’s eccentric religious history, including my ex-uncle Gil, who has been, among other things, a Hindu cult leader, an evangelical Christian and an Orthodox Jew.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Precious Blood"

Coming this fall from HarperCollins: Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes.

About the book, from the publisher:

New York City medical examiner Edward Jenner thought he'd gotten out, turning his back on forensics — and life — after the nightmare of September 11. But when a young student is found murdered, her mutilated body hanging on the wall of an East Village apartment, Jenner is forced out of retirement. One look at the victim and Jenner is sure there's a serial killer on the loose — a hunch confirmed when he uncovers a second horrific murder. And when a friend asks him to look after a beautiful girl threatened by the killer, Jenner can't refuse.

Dragged back onto the dark streets of New York City, Jenner is pushed to the limits of his physical endurance, pitting his sharpest intuitions against the elusive maneuverings of a psychopath. He's getting within inches of the answer, but the clock is ticking and the killer is just too fast — ten steps ahead of the police, two steps ahead of Jenner, and always just out of reach.

As the killings continue, Jenner's desperate chase brings him ever closer to the man behind the grisliest murders he's ever seen — and only one of them can survive.

This is real-world forensic investigation, where fingerprints lead nowhere, DNA doesn't help, and serial killers aren't always caught in the nick of time....

"The Tale of Hawthorn House"

New from Berkley Publishing: The Tale of Hawthorn House: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert.

About the book, from the publisher:

A brand-new mystery in the endearing Beatrix Potter series from a national bestselling author.

During Sawrey's annual summer fte, Miss Beatrix Potter receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Baby Flora, left in a basket on her doorstep with a note, a sprig of hawthorn, and a scarab ring. All Beatrix knows about Flora's previous guardian is that she was a gray-haired woman, capable of scaling a brick wall in seconds.

An investigation reveals that the ring was pawned and reclaimed in Sawrey by a resident of Hawthorn House. The legendary manor is supposed to be vacant-and rumored to be haunted. Now Beatrix and her animal friends are left pondering the possible involvement of fairy folk in these utterly puzzling happenings.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"The Abstinence Teacher"

New this month from St. Martin's Press: Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher.

About the book, from the author's website:

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. It's got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. It's the kind of place where parents are involved in their children's lives, where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored.

Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Ruth's younger daughter's soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Tim belongs to The Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church that doesn't approve of Ruth's style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesn't applaud The Tabernacle's mission to take its message outside its doors.

Adversaries in a small-town culture war, Ruth and Tim instinctively mistrust each other. But when a controversy on the soccer field pushes the two of them to actually talk to each other, they are forced to take each other at something other than face value.

The Abstinence Teacher exposes the powerful emotions that run beneath the surface of modern American family life and explores the complex spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution"

New from Hill and Wang: Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton.

About the book, from the publisher:

Average Americans Were the True Framers of the Constitution

Woody Holton upends what we think we know of the Constitution’s origins by telling the history of the average Americans who challenged the framers of the Constitution and forced on them the revisions that produced the document we now venerate. The framers who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 were determined to reverse America’s post–Revolutionary War slide into democracy. They believed too many middling Americans exercised too much influence over state and national policies. That the framers were only partially successful in curtailing citizen rights is due to the reaction, sometimes violent, of unruly average Americans.

If not to protect civil liberties and the freedom of the people, what motivated the framers? In Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, Holton provides the startling discovery that the primary purpose of the Constitution was, simply put, to make America more attractive to investment. And the linchpin to that endeavor was taking power away from the states and ultimately away from the people. In an eye-opening interpretation of the Constitution, Holton captures how the same class of Americans that produced Shays’s Rebellion in Massachusetts (and rebellions in damn near every other state) produced the Constitution we now revere.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Mr. Jefferson's Women"

New from Knopf: Jon Kukla's Mr. Jefferson's Women.

About the book, from the publisher:

A pioneering study of Thomas Jefferson’s relationships with women in his personal life and in American society and politics.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, who wrote the words “all men are created equal,” was surprisingly hostile toward women. In eight chapters based on fresh research in little-used sources, Jon Kukla offers the first comprehensive study of Jefferson and women since the controversies of his presidency.

Educated with other boys at a neighborhood boarding school, young Jefferson learned early that homemaking was the realm of his mother and six sisters. From adolescence through maturity, his views about domesticity scarcely wavered, while his discomfort around women brought a succession of embarrassments as he sought to control his emotions. After Rebecca Burwell declined his awkward proposal of marriage, Jefferson reacted first with despondence, then with predatory misogyny, and finally with the attempted seduction of Elizabeth Moore Walker, the wife of a boyhood friend. His marriage at twenty-nine to Martha Wayles Skelton brought a decade of genuine happiness, but ended in despair with her death from complications of childbirth. In Paris a few years later, Maria Cosway rekindled his capacity for romantic friendship but ultimately disappointed his hopes. Against the background of these relationships, Kukla offers a fresh and cogent account of Jefferson’s liaison with Sally Hemings.

Jefferson’s individual relationships with these women are examined in depth in five chapters. Abigail Adams, the women of Paris, and the wife of a British ambassador figure in the first of two closing chapters that examine Jefferson’s attitudes toward women in public life. In the last chapter, Kukla draws connections between Jefferson’s life experiences and his role in defining the subordination of women in law, culture, and education during and after the American Revolution.

"Try Dying"

New from Center Street: James Scott Bell's Try Dying.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ty Buchanan is a rising star in his L.A. law firm, and looking forward to a bright future with his beautiful and sweet fiancee, Jacqueline. Then Ernesto Bonilla ends it all. A smalltime thug, Bonilla makes headlines when he murders his wife and commits suicide by jumping off an overpass, landing on Jacqueline's car and ending both of their lives. The newspapers and the police write it off as a freak accident. But a vagrant approaches Ty at Jacqueline's funeral claiming he witnessed someone else at the scene murder Jacqueline.

Now Ty is determined to find out the truth, no matter what it takes or how far he has to go. As he tracks down Jacqueline's killer, he'll find himself tangled up with a mysterious group called Triunfo which claims to rehabilitate former gang members -- but are their intentions as honorable as they claim? Ty relentlessly navigates the underworld of L.A., and soon finds himself the target of a killer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Little Face"

New in the U.S. from Soho Press: Little Face by Sophie Hannah.

About the book, from the author's website:

When Alice Fancourt returns home after having been out for the first time without her two-week-old daughter Florence, she insists that the baby she finds at home, in the care of her husband David, is not their daughter but a child she has never seen before. David denies it, claiming that the baby is Florence and that Alice has gone mad. Is she crazy, or is David lying, and if so, why would he do such a thing? And where is the real Florence? Alice has no proof, but she needs the police to believe her, and quickly. While they wait for the DNA test that will settle the matter, valuable time is being lost, and David’s behaviour towards Alice becomes increasingly threatening and sinister. Can Alice make the police listen to her before it's too late?

"Zeroville"

Coming in November from Europa Editions: Zeroville by Steve Erickson.

About the book, from the author's website:

I believe that cinema was here from the beginning of the world.
Josef von Sternberg

On the same August day in 1969 that a crazed hippie "family" led by Charles Manson commits five savage murders in the canyons above Los Angeles, a young ex-communicated seminarian arrives with the images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift — "the two most beautiful people in the history of the movies" — tattooed on his head. At once childlike and violent, Vikar is not a cinéaste but "cineautistic," sleeping at night in the Roosevelt Hotel where he's haunted by the ghost of D. W. Griffith, and behind the screen of the Chinese Theatre where "images from the movie fly over him as though he's lying at the end of a runway, below an endless stream of jetliners landing." Vikar has stepped into the vortex of a culture in upheaval: strange drugs that frighten him, a strange sexuality that consumes him, a strange music he doesn't understand. Over the course of the Seventies and into the Eighties, as the old studios crumble before the onslaught of a new, renegade generation, Vikar pursues his obsession with film from one screening to the next and through a series of cinema-besotted conversations and encounters with starlets, burglars, guerrillas, escorts, teenage punks and veteran film editors, only to discover a secret whose clues lie in every film ever made, and only to find that we don't dream the Movies but rather they dream us.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Runoff"

Coming in November from Bleak House Books: Runoff by Mark Coggins.

About the book, from the publisher:

When her hand-picked mayoral candidate fails even to carry the predominantly Chinese precincts, Leonora Lee — the all-powerful “Dragon Lady” of San Francisco’s Chinatown — hires private eye August Riordan to investigate the possibility that someone has rigged the election by hacking the city’s newly installed touch-screen voting machines. As the days to the runoff election between the two remaining candidates click down, it becomes clear there are many groups with wildly different agendas that had a motive.

An anarchist organization called Feral Collective and a radical, anti-gentrification group called Cuidad Verde (Green City) want the progressive Green party candidate to win because of his promise to increase affordable housing. Wo Hop To, a powerful gang in Chinatown with connections to a Hong Kong triad, want to sabotage the chances of the Dragon Lady’s candidate. “Downtown interests” with links to big business and real estate development want the relatively conservative Democratic candidate to maintain the business and development-friendly policies of the current administration.

Did these factions act separately or work together? Did they suborn employees of the Election Department or the company that produced the electronic voting machines? These are the questions Riordan must answer, all while dealing with an entanglement with the Dragon Lady’s beautiful daughter, Lisa, who is the reigning Miss Chinatown.

"The Dead Travel Fast"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula by Eric Nuzum.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Dead Travel Fast is about vampires, death, chickens, fear, things that smell bad, the love of a good woman, and germs… but mostly it’s about vampires.

The undead are everywhere. They’re not just in movies and books, but in commercials, fetish clubs, and even in your breakfast cereal. If you look, you’ll discover that bloodsuckers have gone from guest spots in rural folk tales to becoming some of the most recognizable bad guys in the modern world. Eric Nuzum wanted to find out why and how this happened. And he found the answer in Goth clubs, darkened parks, haunted houses, and… chain restaurants.

Nuzum was willing to do whatever it took to better understand the vampire phenomenon. He traveled across Transylvania on a tour hosted by Butch Patrick (a.k.a. Eddie Munster), sat through Las Vegas’ only topless vampire revue, hung out with assorted shady characters, and spent hours in a coffin. He even drank his own blood -- just one more step in his quest to understand the weird, offbeat world of vampires and the people who love them.

The Dead Travel Fast is the hilarious result of this bloody, gory, and often foolhardy journey. With his unmatched firsthand experience, Eric Nuzum delivers a far-reaching look at vampires in pop culture, from Bram to Bela to Buffy, and at what vampires and vampirism have come to mean to us today.

And the blood? Let’s just say it doesn’t go with eggs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"The Sound of Butterflies"

New from William Morrow: The Sound of Butterflies by Rachael King.

About the book, from the publisher:

Amateur naturalist Thomas Edgar is offered the chance of a lifetime: to travel to the Amazon as part of a scientific exploration. Hoping to discover the mythical butterfly of which he has long dreamed — his Papilio sophia — he eagerly accepts. Yet when he returns, the optimistic young Edwardian gentleman is gone, replaced by a weak, nearly mute shadow of the man.

Unable to break through Thomas's silence, his beloved wife, Sophie, is forced to take drastic measures to discover what has happened. But as she gleans what she can from Thomas's diaries and boxes of exquisite butterflies, she learns as much about herself and their marriage as about the secrets he harbors.

Written in rich, sensuous prose and taking the reader from the demure gentility of turn-of-the-twentieth-century England to the lush, dangerous jungles of Brazil, The Sound of Butterflies is a breathtaking and compelling debut.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"The Night Climbers"

New from Simon Spotlight Entertainment: The Night Climbers by Ivo Stourton.

About the book, from the publisher:

When James Walker arrives at Tudor College, Cambridge, he tries to create a vague air of mystery about himself in the hope of making the right kind of friends. By accident or fate he encounters a member of the Night Climbers, a wealthy, secretive, and tantalizingly eccentric circle of undergraduates who scale the college towers and gargoyles at night in pursuit of the kind of thrill-seeking danger that makes them feel truly alive.

Seduced by their reckless charisma and talent for decadence, James falls for both Francis, the group's ringleader, and Jessica, his beautiful best friend. Their extravagant living is financed, unwittingly, by Francis's father, but when he suddenly cuts his son off, the friends are left floundering as they try to maintain a lifestyle they can't afford. That is, until Francis embroils them in a plan that will test the limits of their friendship and link them to one another forever.

Humming with intellectual energy and grace, The Night Climbers portrays the intensity of early relationships, when people are at their most impressionable, and explores the ties that bind with a keen eye.

"Rigged"

New this month from William Morrow: Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, from Wall Street to Dubai by Ben Mezrich.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author who brought you the massive New York Times bestseller Bringing Down the House, this is the startling rags-to-riches story of an Italian-American kid from the streets of Brooklyn who claws his way into the wild, frenetic world of the oil exchange.

After conquering the hallowed halls of Harvard Business School, he enters the testosterone-laced warrens of the Merc Exchange, the asylumlike oil exchange located in lower Manhattan. A place where billions of dollars trade hands every week, the Merc is like a casino on crack, where former garbagemen become millionaires overnight and where fistfights break out on the trading floor.

This ordinary kid has traded Brooklyn for the gold-lined hotel palaces of Dubai. He keeps company on the decks of private yachts in Monte Carlo — teeming with half-naked girls flown in by Saudi sheiks — and makes deals in the dangerous back alleys of Beijing.

But the Merc is just a starting place. Taken under the wing of another young gun and partnering with a mysterious young Muslim, the kid embarks on a dangerous adventure to revolutionize the oil trading industry — and, along with it, the world.

Rigged is the explicit, exclusive, true story behind the headlines that dominate the world stage.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Spaceman Blues"

Recently published by Tor Books: Spaceman Blues: A Love Song by Brian Francis Slattery.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Manuel Rodrigo de Guzmán González disappears, Wendell Apogee decides to find out where he has gone and why. But in order to figure out what happened to Manuel, Wendell must contend with parties, cockfights, and chases; an underground city whose people live in houses suspended from cavern ceilings; urban weirdos and alien assassins; immigrants, the black market, flight, riots, and religious cults.

Painted in browns and grays and sparked by sudden fires, Spaceman Blues is a literary retro-pulp science-fiction-mystery-superhero novel, the debut of a true voice of the future, and a cult classic in the making.

"Matrimony"

New from Pantheon Books: Matrimony by Joshua Henkin.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get out–out from under his parents’ influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.

When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carter’s mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthy – wealthier, even, than Julian himself.

Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is – Julian and Carter agree – dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.

But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair that – spurred on by family tragedy – will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next ten years. Then Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, and he throws everyone’s life into turmoil: Julian’s, Mia’s, his own.

Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than they’d expected? Can love endure the passing of time?

In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone – to do it when you’re young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Midnight Rambler"

New from Ballantine Books: Midnight Rambler by James Swain.

About the book
, from the publisher:

Explosive. Pulse-pounding. Heart-racing. From the bestselling author The Wall Street Journal hails as “one terrific writer,” Midnight Rambler is the breakout thriller of the year – a brawny, brainy novel of suspense that pairs James Swain’s trademark smooth-as-silk prose with a plot bigger and bolder than anything he’s done before.

In South Florida, Jack Carpenter is infamous. He’s the cop who busted the notorious serial killer Simon Skell – aka the Midnight Rambler – and sacrificed his badge and marriage in the process. Haunted by the Skell case, Carpenter now works as an abduction specialist in Fort Lauderdale, reuniting families with their missing children.

But the body of one of the Midnight Rambler’s victims has just been uncovered–and forensic evidence suggests Carpenter jailed the wrong man. With Skell just days away from release, the tarnished hero must reopen the case that shattered his life and the lives of eight murdered women.

As waves of heat and rain wash over the steamy streets, Carpenter races against the clock to reaffirm the case against Skell. Yet the deeper he digs, the more he starts to realize that Skell is just one piece in a terrifying puzzle of predation and murder, just one player in a shocking conspiracy that ranges across the state of Florida. And as the relentless Carpenter draws the net tighter, his enemies prepare to spring a devastating final surprise.

From the seaside bar that Jack Carpenter calls home to the glittering tourist kingdom in Orlando to the funky jungle of Coconut Grove, James Swain unleashes a wild ride into the heart of evil – with the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” as the throbbing, terrifying soundtrack.

"Sweetheart Deal"

New this month from William Morrow: Sweetheart Deal by Claire Matturro.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sarasota lawyer Lilly Cleary has had her share of odd cases. She's defended everyone from a pet psychic to an orange libeler, and she's done so with finesse. But it's another situation entirely when she finds out that her phobic and dysfunctional mother has been accused of murder.

Although she's been estranged from her family for years, Lilly drops everything to return to the little town of Bugfest, Georgia, and steps into more than she bargained for. For one thing, her mother's house is beyond a mess. Important papers are missing, and on the back porch there's a freezer whose contents are very odd. Bugfest itself is under attack by developers who want to turn it into a resort community, a plan that would displace many of the longtime residents.

And then someone tries to murder Lilly's mother with red ants while she's strangely oversedated in the hospital.

Lilly has come to the rescue, but can she get to the root of these mysterious doings in time to save her mother's life?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"The Day of Battle"

New from Henry Holt: The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy

In An Army at Dawn — winner of the Pulitzer Prize — Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.

The Italian campaign’s outcome was never certain; in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their military advisers engaged in heated debate about whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even a good idea. But once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizingly high price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino were particularly difficult and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, one of the war’s most complex and controversial commanders, American officers and soldiers became increasingly determined and proficient. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.

Drawing on a wide array of primary source material, written with great drama and flair, this is narrative history of the first rank. With The Day of Battle, Atkinson has once again given us the definitive account of one of history’s most compelling military campaigns.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"Samedi the Deafness"

New from Vintage Books: Samedi the Deafness by by Jesse Ball.

About the book, from the publisher:

One morning in the park James Sim discovers a man, crumpled on the ground, stabbed in the chest. In the man's last breath, he whispers his confession: Samedi.

What follows is a spellbinding game of cat and mouse as James is abducted, brought to an asylum, and seduced by a woman in yellow. Who is lying? What is Samedi? And what will happen on the seventh day?
Read an excerpt from Samedi the Deafness.

"The Witch's Trinity"

New from Crown Books: The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman.

About the book, from the author's website:

The year is 1507, and a friar has arrived in Tierkenddorff, a remote German village nestled deeply in the woods. The village has been suffering a famine, and the villagers are desperately hungry. The friar’s arrival is a miracle, and when he claims he can restore the town to prosperity, the men and women who have gathered to hear him rejoice. The friar has a book called the Malleus Maleficarum-”The Witch’s Hammer.” It is a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft. The friar promises he will identify the guilty woman who has brought God’s anger upon the town, burn her, and bounty will be restored. Tierkenddorff is filled with hope; neighbors wonder aloud who has cursed them and how quickly can she be found? They begin sharing secrets with the friar.

Güde Müller, an elderly woman, has stark and frightening visions-recently she has seen things that defy explanation. None in the village know this, and Güde herself worries that perhaps her mind has begun to wander-certainly she has outlived all but one of her peers in Tierkenddorff. Yet of one thing she is absolutely certain: she has become an object of scorn and a burden to her son’s wife. In these desperate times her daughter-in-law would prefer one less hungry mouth at the family table. As the friar turns his eye on each member of the tiny community, Güde dreads what her daughter-in-law might say to win his favor.

Then one terrible night Güde follows an unearthly voice and the scent of charred meat into the snow-filled woods. Come morning, she no longer knows if the horror she witnessed was real or imagined. She only knows that if the friar hears of it, she may be damned in this life as well as the next.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"The Rowing Lesson"

Coming in November by Soho Press: The Rowing Lesson by Anne Landsman.

About the book, from the author's website:

Pregnant with her first child, Betsy Klein is summoned from her home in the United States to her father's hospital bed in South Africa. Harold Klein is sensual, irascible, a passionately committed doctor, and a complex husband and father. As Betsy sits and waits for him to stir from his coma, she is compelled to imagine his life.

Fatherless and skinny, Harold Klein had to struggle to assert himself in his family, and, later, to become a doctor and to win the respect of his Boer patients. We first meet him as a young man on a formative, sexually charged excursion with his friends on the Touw, a river to which he often returns. That is where he later teaches his little daughter to row, and finally, where he makes his last metaphoric passage.

The Rowing Lesson is an utterly convincing and vivid portrait of a consciousness and a life, shot through with a daughter's fierce empathy and exasperation. By the heartbreaking end of the novel, it seems inconceivable that we will not meet Harold Klein directly, that he will never wake up, so powerfully has he been brought to life.

"Last Rituals"

New from William Morrow: Last Rituals: An Icelandic Novel of Secret Symbols, Medieval Witchcraft, and Modern Murder by Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

About the book, from the publisher:

The spellbinding debut and international sensation being published in thirty countries featuring Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a smart, sexy lawyer and investigator whose hunt for a modern murderer points to a very odd — and evil — chapter in Iceland's past

After the body of a young German student — with his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest — is discovered at a university in Reykjavík, the police waste no time in making an arrest. The victim's family isn't convinced they have the right man, however, so they ask Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. The fee is considerable — more than enough to make things a bit easier for the struggling lawyer and her children.

It's not long before Thóra and Matthew Reich, her new associate, discover something unusual about the deceased student: He had been obsessed with the country's grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts — a topic made all the more peculiar by the fact that unlike witch hunts in other countries, those in Iceland had targeted men . . . not women.

As Thóra and Matthew dig deeper, they make the connection between long-bygone customs and the student's murder. But the shadow of dark traditions conceals secrets in both the past and the present, and the investigators soon realize that nothing is as it seems . . . and that no one can be trusted.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Churchill and the Jews"

New from Henry Holt: Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship by Martin Gilbert.

About the book, from the publisher:

An insightful history of Churchill’s lifelong commitment—both public and private — to the Jews and Zionism, and of his outspoken opposition to anti-Semitism

Winston Churchill was a young man in 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island. Despite the prevailing anti-Semitism in England as well as on the Continent, Churchill’s position was clear: he supported Dreyfus, and condemned the prejudices that had led to his conviction.

Churchill’s commitment to Jewish rights, to Zionism — and ultimately to the State of Israel — never wavered. In 1922, he established on the bedrock of international law the right of Jews to emigrate to Palestine. During his meeting with David Ben-Gurion in 1960, Churchill presented the Israeli prime minister with an article he had written about Moses, praising the father of the Jewish people.

Drawing on a wide range of archives and private papers, speeches, newspaper coverage, and wartime correspondence, Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, explores the origins, implications, and results of Churchill’s determined commitment to Jewish rights, opening a window on an underappreciated and heroic aspect of the brilliant politician’s life and career.

"The Worst Thing I’ve Done"

New from Touchstone Books: The Worst Thing I've Done by Ursula Hegi.

About the book, from the publisher:

-- ask me, Annie. Ask me what's the worst thing I've done. Ask, goddammit. Because then you'll know I'll never go beyond last night.
Tonight, Annie is driving alone from North Sea to Montauk and back again, as she has every night since her husband, Mason, challenged what she believed about herself and about their marriage. Eating junk food and listening to talk radio, Annie tries to shut out her rage, her pain, but Mason's voice persists within her, as urgent as the voices of the anonymous callers who confess their misery to the radio psychologists.

Once again, Ursula Hegi writes along that border where bliss and sorrow meet. Sensuous, funny, and mysterious, her new novel takes us into an exuberant and troubled friendship. Since early childhood, Annie, Jake, and Mason have had a special bond. When Annie's parents die on the same night that she and Mason are married, the three friends decide to raise Annie's newborn sister, Opal, together.

Annie struggles to be both a sister and a mother to Opal, a wife to Mason, and a friend to Jake. Not surprisingly, their relationships, already entangled, grow dangerous, too close, on the line. One fateful night the three friends miss the moment when they could still turn back, and they goad each other to step across the line, with shocking, unforeseen consequences.

Set on the East End of Long Island, The Worst Thing I've Done is an incandescent story of love, friendship, and marriage; of joy and betrayal; of an artist's struggle to reconnect with her work; and of how we can choose our mothers, our families. Beautifully written and brilliantly vivid, it explores the resilience in the protagonists' lives, and their courage to move forward despite an uncertain future.
Read Cherie Thiessen's review of The Worst Thing I’ve Done in January Magazine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"The Dead Guy Interviews"

New from Penguin Books: The Dead Guy Interviews: Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History by Michael A. Stusser.

About the book, from the publisher:

The interviewees in this irreverent book may not have a pulse, but, boy, can they talk!

Ever wanted to ask Nostradamus for the winning lotto numbers or van Gogh about the whole ear episode? How about Napoleon about his complex, or if Frida might consider a brow wax? In The Dead Guy Interviews, journalist Michael Stusser has created forty-five interviews with some of the most famous personalities of all time, asking them probing questions about their lives, accomplishments, and what’s on their iPods. Based on his column in the acclaimed magazine mental_floss, this collection of conversations is incredibly funny, but each interview is also based on serious research, so in addition to laughing, readers actually learn real history.

The Dead Guy Interviews includes discussions with:
Alexander the Great
Beethoven
Napoléon Bonaparte
Buddha
Julius Caesar
Caligula
George Washington
Carver
Catherine the Great
Winston Churchill
Cleopatra
Confucius
Crazy Horse
Salvador Dalí
Charles Darwin
Emily Dickinson
Albert Einstein
Benjamin Franklin
Sigmund Freud
Genghis Khan
Vincent van Gogh
Henry VIII
J. Edgar Hoover
Harry Houdini
Thomas Jefferson
Joan of Arc
Robert Johnson
Frida Kahlo
Leonardo da Vinci
Abraham Lincoln
Mao Tse-tung
Karl Marx
Michelangelo
Montezuma
Mozart
Nostradamus
Edgar Allan Poe
William Shakespeare
Sun Tzu
Mae West
Oscar Wilde

"Grub"

New from The Toby Press: Grub by Elise Blackwell.

About the book, from the publisher:

A long overdue retelling of New Grub Street — George Gissing’s classic satire of the Victorian literary marketplace — Grub chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a group of young novelists living in and around New York City.

Eddie Renfros, on the brink of failure after his critically acclaimed first book, wants only to publish another novel and hang on to his beautiful wife, Amanda, who has her own literary ambitions and a bit of a roving eye. Among their circle are writers of every stripe — from the Machiavellian Jackson Miller to the ‘experimental writer’ Henry who lives in squalor while seeking the perfect sentence. Amid an assortment of scheming agents, editors, and hangers-on, each writer must negotiate the often competing demands of success and integrity, all while grappling with inner demons and the stabs of professional and personal jealousy. The question that nags at them is this: What is it to write a novel in the twenty-first century?

Pointedly funny and compassionate, Grub reveals what the publishing industry does to writers — and what writers do to themselves for the sake of art and to each other in the pursuit of celebrity.
Read an excerpt from Grub.