Saturday, March 24, 2018

"The Magnificent Esme Wells"

New from Harper: The Magnificent Esme Wells: A Novel by Adrienne Sharp.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the nationally bestselling author of The True Memoirs of Little K, a deeply felt and historically detailed novel of family, loss, and love, told by an irrepressible young girl—the daughter of a two-bit gangster and a movie showgirl—growing up in golden-age Hollywood and Las Vegas in its early days.

Esme Silver has always taken care of her charming ne’er-do-well father, Ike Silver, a small-time crook with dreams of making it big with Bugsy Siegel. Devoted to her daddy, Esme is often his "date" at the racetrack, where she amiably fetches the hot dogs while keeping an eye to the ground for any cast-off tickets that may be winners.

In awe of her mother, Dina Wells, Esme is more than happy to be the foil who gets the beautiful Dina into meetings and screen tests with some of Hollywood’s greats. When Ike gets an opportunity to move to Vegas—and, in what could at last be his big break, to help the man she knows as "Benny" open the Flamingo Hotel—life takes an unexpected turn for Esme. A stunner like her mother, the young girl catches the attention of Nate Stein, one of the Strip’s most powerful men.

Narrated by the twenty-year-old Esme, The Magnificent Esme Wells moves between pre–WWII Hollywood and postwar Las Vegas—a golden age when Jewish gangsters and movie moguls were often indistinguishable in looks and behavior. Esme’s voice—sharp, observant, and with a quiet, mordant wit—chronicles the rise and fall and further fall of her complicated parents, as well as her own painful reckoning with love and life. A coming-of-age story with a tinge of noir, and a tale that illuminates the promise and perils of the American dream and its dreamers, The Magnificent Esme Wells is immersive, moving, and compelling.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 23, 2018

"The Fighter"

New from Little, Brown: The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

A blistering novel of violence and deliverance set against the mythic backdrop of the Mississippi Delta

The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred-year-old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to Jack, the foster mother only days away from dying, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers. And Jack’s mind has begun to fail, too. The decades of bare-knuckle fighting are now taking their toll, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separates friend from foe.

But in a single twisted night, Jack loses his chance to win it all back. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack is robbed of the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet–the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay–and open a path that could lead him back home. Yet this sudden reversal of fortunes introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her “church of coincidence,” Annette pushes Jack toward redemption, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger.

Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken by his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death. With the raw power and poetry of a young Larry Brown and the mysticism of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael Farris Smith's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Rivers.

Writers Read: Michael Farris Smith (October 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

"Black Flags, Blue Waters"

Coming in September from Liveright: Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin.

About the book, from the publisher:

With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”—spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s—when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them. Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey. Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

The Page 69 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

--Marshal Zeringue

"No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run"

New from St. Martin's Press: No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run by Tyler Wetherall.

About the book, from the publisher:

Tyler had lived in thirteen houses and five countries by the time she was nine. A willful and curious child, she never questioned her strange upbringing, that is, until Scotland Yard showed up outside her ramshackle English home, and she discovered her family had been living a lie: Her father was a fugitive and her name was not her own.

In sunny California, ten years earlier, her father’s criminal organization first came to the FBI’s attention. Soon after her parents were forced on the run taking their three young children with them, and they spent the following years fleeing through Europe, assuming different identities and hiding out in a series of far-flung places. Now her father was attempting one final escape—except this time, he couldn’t take her with him.

In this emotionally compelling and gripping memoir, Tyler Wetherall brings to life her fugitive childhood, following the threads that tie a family together through hardship, from her parents’ first meeting in 1960s New York to her present life as a restless writer unpacking the secrets of her past. No Way Home is about love, loss, and learning to tell the story of our lives.
Visit Tyler Wetherall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness"

New from Basic Books: Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness by Alisa Roth.

About the book, from the publisher:

In America, having a mental illness has become a crime. One in four fatal police shootings involves a person with mental illness. The country’s three largest providers of mental health are not hospitals, but jails. As many as half the people in US jails and prisons have a psychiatric problem.

In Insane, journalist Alisa Roth goes deep inside the criminal justice system to reveal how America’s tough-on-crime policies have transformed it into a warehouse for people with mental illness, one where prisoners are denied proper treatment, abused, and punished in ways that make them sicker. She takes readers from the overwhelmed mental health units of the Los Angeles County Jail, to the women’s prisons of Oklahoma, which have one of the fastest-growing populations of people with mental illness in the country. She introduces us to ordinary people whose untreated mental illnesses drive them repeatedly into the justice system—and in some cases, to their deaths.

In an investigation of police departments, courts, jails, and emergency health care facilities across the country, Roth provides the first nationwide account of this mental health crisis—and uncovers the hidden forces behind it. Examining reform efforts in several jurisdictions, she also makes the case for a large-scale overhaul of mental health care and criminal justice. Insane is a galvanizing wake-up call for criminal justice reformers and anyone concerned about the plight of our most vulnerable.
Visit Alisa Roth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Cane Toad Wars"

New from the University of California Press: Cane Toad Wars by Rick Shine.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1935, an Australian government agency imported 101 specimens of the Central and South American Cane Toad in an attempt to manage insects that were decimating sugar-cane harvests. In Australia the Cane Toad adapted and evolved with abandon, voraciously consuming native wildlife and killing predators with its lethal skin toxin. Today, hundreds of millions of Cane Toads have spread across the northern part of Australia and continue to move westward. The humble Cane Toad has become a national villain.

Cane Toad Wars chronicles the work of intrepid scientist Rick Shine, who has been documenting the toad’s ecological impact in Australia and seeking to buffer it. Despite predictions of devastation in the wake of advancing toad hordes, the author’s research reveals a more complex and nuanced story. A firsthand account of a perplexing ecological problem and an important exploration of how we measure evolutionary change and ecological resilience, this book makes an effective case for the value of long-term natural history research in informing conservation practice.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Other Mother"

New from William Morrow: The Other Mother by Carol Goodman.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of the internationally bestselling The Lake of Dead Languages comes a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust.

When Daphne Marist and her infant daughter, Chloe, pull up the gravel drive to the home of Daphne’s new employer, it feels like they’ve entered a whole new world. Tucked in the Catskills, the stone mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale, its lush landscaping hiding the view of the mental asylum just beyond its border. Daphne secured the live-in position using an assumed name and fake credentials, telling no one that she’s on the run from a controlling husband who has threatened to take her daughter away.

Daphne’s new life is a far cry from the one she had in Westchester where, just months before, she and her husband welcomed little Chloe. From the start, Daphne tries to be a good mother, but she’s plagued by dark moods and intrusive thoughts that convince her she’s capable of harming her own daughter. When Daphne is diagnosed with Post Partum Mood Disorder, her downward spiral feels unstoppable—until she meets Laurel Hobbes.

Laurel, who also has a daughter named Chloe, is everything Daphne isn’t: charismatic, sophisticated, fearless. They immediately form an intense friendship, revealing secrets to one another they thought they’d never share. Soon, they start to look alike, dress alike, and talk alike, their lives mirroring one another in strange and disturbing ways. But Daphne realizes only too late that being friends with Laurel will come at a very shocking price—one that will ultimately lead her to that towering mansion in the Catskills where terrifying, long-hidden truths will finally be revealed....
Visit Carol Goodman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"All the Beautiful Lies"

New from William Morrow: All the Beautiful Lies: A Novel by Peter Swanson.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.
Visit Peter Swanson's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Kind Worth Killing.

The Page 69 Test: The Kind Worth Killing.

Writers Read: Peter Swanson (February 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

"To Die but Once"

New from Harper: To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear.

About the book, from the publisher:

Maisie Dobbs—one of the most complex and admirable characters in contemporary fiction (Richmond Times Dispatch)—faces danger and intrigue on the home front during World War II.

During the months following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, Maisie Dobbs investigates the disappearance of a young apprentice working on a hush-hush government contract. As news of the plight of thousands of soldiers stranded on the beaches of France is gradually revealed to the general public, and the threat of invasion rises, another young man beloved by Maisie makes a terrible decision that will change his life forever.

Maisie’s investigation leads her from the countryside of rural Hampshire to the web of wartime opportunism exploited by one of the London underworld’s most powerful men, in a case that serves as a reminder of the inextricable link between money and war. Yet when a final confrontation approaches, she must acknowledge the potential cost to her future—and the risk of destroying a dream she wants very much to become reality.
Visit Jacqueline Winspear's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"High White Sun"

New from G.P. Putnam’s Sons: High White Sun by J. Todd Scott.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sometimes we have to be wolves…

In the wake of Sheriff Stanford Ross’s death, former deputy Chris Cherry–now Sheriff Cherry–is the new “law” in Big Bend County, yet he still struggles to escape the long, dark shadow of that infamous lawman. As Chris tries to remake and modernize his corrupt department, bringing in new deputies, including young America Reynosa and Ben Harper–a hard-edged veteran homicide detective now lured out of retirement–he finds himself constantly staring down a town unwilling to change, friends and enemies unable to let go of the past, and the harsh limits of his badge.

But it’s only when a local Rio Grande guide is brutally and inexplicably murdered, and America and Ben’s ongoing investigation is swept aside by a secretive federal agent, that the novice sheriff truly understands just how tenuous his hold on that badge really is. And as other new threats rise right along with the unforgiving West Texas sun, nothing can prepare Chris for the high cost of crossing dangerous men such as John Wesley Earl, a high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the patriarch of a murderous clan that’s descended on Chris’s hometown of Murfee; or Thurman Flowers, a part-time pastor and full-time white supremacist hell-bent on founding his violent Church of Purity in the very heart of the Big Bend.

Before long, Chris, America, and Ben are outmaneuvered, outnumbered, and outgunned–inexorably drawn into a nearly twenty-year vendetta that began with a murdered Texas Ranger on a dusty highway outside of Sweetwater, and that can only end with fire, blood, and bullets in Murfee’s own sun-scorched streets…

Welcome back to the Big Bend…
Visit J. Todd Scott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue