Monday, June 30, 2008

Pg. 69: Natasha Cooper's "A Poisoned Mind"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Natasha Cooper's A Poisoned Mind.

About the book, from the publisher:
“I don’t know how you’ve survived at the Bar this long,” Anthony said to Trish. “Caring for your clients to the point of derangement is bad enough; but to start fretting over the opposition.... ”

In spite of the barristers’ rule that any suitably qualified member of the Bar who is free to take an offered case must do so, QC Trish Maguire can’t quite understand how her head of chambers, Anthony Shelley, can accept a case defending the corrupt Clean World Waste Management company. So when the brilliant and cynical Anthony is nearly killed in an accident, Trish is faced with a painful dilemma: Does she take over the company’s defense, or threaten her hard-won career by refusing to appear in court against Angie Fortwell, the impoverished widow of a hard-working farmer? As Trish delves deeper into the case, she grows more and more troubled by a nagging thought: Was the explosion that killed Angie’s husband really an accident, or the result of sabotage?

With all this going on at work, the last thing Trish needs is the possibility of explosions at home. Yet she can’t simply walk away from Jay, the clever but damaged fourteen-year-old boy who has attached himself to her family---especially when his mother is found beaten and close to death.

A brilliant novel of crime and its consequences, A Poisoned Mind demonstrates the full range of Natasha Cooper’s emotional intelligence and storytelling powers.
Among the praise for A Poisoned Mind:
“Simply gorgeous--a smart, complex, grown-up entertainment that rewards the reader on every page. Intricate in plotting, deft in characterization, [A Poisoned Mind] is one of the best legal thrillers I have ever read.”
--Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of What the Dead Know

"A precise and unsentimental exploration of two sorts of sabotage - industrial and emotional - A Poisoned Mind is a well-paced and thought-provoking read, and a welcome addition to a series that grows more impressive with each book."

"This series has been consistently entertaining, with meticulously researched plots and lively characters, including the engaging heroine. This story is one of the best."
--Sunday Telegraph

"Cooper is penetrating and amusing on the hierarchies of the legal world. She produces credible, contemporary plots and she cleverly notes current trends.... Her more subtle achievement, however, is to show how personal relationships affect organizations, businesses and professional groups as well as families. Several families are at the heart of this complex, enjoyable novel..... The vulnerability of the two teenagers and the weaknesses of all the adults are nicely caught. Anger in all its forms is shown as corrosive in this acute and rewarding thriller."
--Times Literary Supplement
Read an excerpt from A Poisoned Mind, and learn more about the author and her work at Natasha Cooper's website.

A Poisoned Mind is the ninth Trish Maguire crime novel.

The Page 99 Test: A Greater Evil/Evil is Done.

The Page 69 Test: A Poisoned Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rick Shenkman's "Just How Stupid Are We?"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Rick Shenkman's Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter.

About the book, from the publisher:
Levees break in New Orleans. Iraq descends into chaos. The housing market teeters on the brink of collapse. Americans of all political stripes are heading into the 2008 election with the sense that something has gone terribly wrong with American politics. But what exactly? Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats. Greedy corporate executives, rogue journalists, faulty voting machines, irresponsible defense contractors-we blame them, too. The only thing everyone seems to agree on, in fact, is that the American people are entirely blameless. In Just How Stupid Are We?, best-selling historian and renowned myth-buster Rick Shenkman takes aim at our great national piety: the wisdom of the American people. The hard truth is that American democracy is more direct than ever-but voters are misusing, abusing, and abdicating their political power. Americans are paying less and less attention to politics at a time when they need to pay much more: Television has dumbed politics down to the basest possible level, while the real workings of politics have become vastly more complicated. Shenkman offers concrete proposals for reforming our institutions-the government, the media, civic organizations, political parties-to make them work better for the American people. But first, Shenkman argues, we must reform ourselves.
Among the praise for Just How Stupid Are We?:
"A smart, stylish, and witty wrestling match with the most difficult problem a democracy can face."
--Rick Perlstein

"The bad news is that Americans are ignorant, shortsighted, and swayed by meaningless phrases; the good news is that things could get better -- if we start speaking honestly about the problem. Rick Shenkman's book is a crucial starting point in that process."
--John Wiener

"At a moment when Americans are choosing leaders, Rick Shenkman’s brisk, provocative and vigorously argued book implores us to rethink our roles as citizens and improve our political environment. There could not be a better time for this important message."
--Michael Beschloss

"With wit, passion and devastating evidence, Shenkman compels us, the praised and petted "American people," to look in the mirror for an explanation of why our elections are travesties of informed, intelligent debate. Lively and crucial, the book reminds us, however we vote, that there's no such animal as "democracy for dummies."
--Bernard Weisberger
Watch a video and read more about the book and author at the Just How Stupid Are We? blog.

Rick Shenkman is the editor and founder of George Mason University's History News Network.

The Page 99 Test: Just How Stupid Are We?.

--Marshal Zeringue

The best of Alan Bennett

Iain Finlayson, who reviews non-fiction for the London Times, named a critic's chart of the best of Alan Bennett.

One title on the list:
The History Boys (2004)

Pretty much Forty Years Further On, this time responding to the condition of Blairite, post-Thatcher England.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Interview: Ana Siljak

New at Author Interviews: Ana Siljak, Assistant Professor of Russian and East European History at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, and author of Angel of Vengeance: The "Girl Assassin," the Governor of St. Petersburg, and Russia's Revolutionary World.

Siljak generously responded to a few questions about the new book which were put to her by Cary Federman, author of The Body and the State: Habeas Corpus and American Jurisprudence and a professor in the Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University.

I added a two-part question of my own to their Q & A.:
Zeringue: What question do you wish someone would ask you about your book but no one has asked? And what's the answer?

Siljak: Here is a question that I found very important while I was writing the book: "Why did the Russian terrorists embrace martyrdom so easily, even if they were self-professed atheists like Vera?"

For my research, I read a great many memoirs and biographies of Russian terrorists. Their fierce desire for martyrdom struck me again and again. Vera herself dreamt of becoming a martyr long before she embarked on the revolutionary road. In the late 1870s and 1880s, "martyrologies" of executed terrorists were published in terrorist-sponsored newsletters. In Russia, terrorists openly justified their use of "terrorism" in two ways: first, as a legitimate method of attacking an unjust and all-powerful regime, and second, as an act of self-sacrifice undertaken by individuals who willingly gave their lives for the sake of a better world.

This insight has helped me see the history of terrorism in a new way. Throughout history, terrorists have been partly driven by hate, and that is often quite clear. But what is less clear, and yet no less significant, is that they are often also driven by a passionate belief in the possibility of a peaceful and harmonious future world (however they define it), a belief that allows them to coldly sacrifice their own lives and the lives of others.
Read an excerpt from Angel of Vengeance, and learn more about the book and author at the publisher's website.

Author Interviews: Ana Siljak.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Darin Strauss reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng, The Real McCoy, and the newly published More Than It Hurts You.

One book on his recent reading list:
Time's Arrow, by Martin Amis. I think he's under-rated, famous as he is. He's the best stylist out of the UK since VS Pritchett, I think, and as funny as Nabokov. In the generation of English-language writers after Updike's, I think he musters the best sentences, page after page. At least he does in his best stuff (Money, this book, Visiting Mrs. Nabokov, and even London Fields.) And this book -- gimmick though it is -- really shows how you can use your material to create suspense. Because of the structure of the book, everything the character does is interesting -- even (especially?) going to the bathroom. [read on]
Also a screenwriter, Strauss is adapting Chang and Eng with Gary Oldman, for Disney. The recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction writing, he is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU's Graduate school.

Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, on More Than It Hurts You:
“Darin Strauss has written a novel that is — suture by suture, idea for idea — peerlessly brilliant. Here is a supreme, mature novelist at the height of his powers. Take me to the hospital. My jaw has dropped.”
Visit Darin Strauss's website to learn more about him and his work, and check out Newsweek's "Booked" blog to read about his More Than It Hurts You book tour.

Writers Read: Darin Strauss.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Paul Goldstein's "A Patent Lie"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Paul Goldstein's A Patent Lie.

About the book, from the publisher:
Forced out of his high-powered Manhattan law firm and stuck in a dead-end solo practice, Michael Seeley, the tough-but-wounded hero of Errors and Omissions, cannot say no when his estranged brother, Leonard, head of research at upstart biotech Vaxtek, Inc., flies in from California to beg him to take over the company’s lawsuit for patent infringement of its pathbreaking AIDS vaccine after the sudden death of the lead trial lawyer. The financial and moral stakes of the case are staggering, and Seeley suspects that murder cannot be ruled out as a hardball litigation tactic of big-pharma adversary St. Gall Laboratories.

As Seeley travels between San Francisco and Silicon Valley to prepare for trial, dark facts surface concerning the vaccine’s discovery by Vaxtek scientist Alan Steinhardt and its alleged theft by St. Gall researcher Lily Warren. Ethical quandaries deepen into mortal danger as the trial, under the stern prodding of federal judge Ellen Farnsworth, rushes to its unexpected end. A timely and fascinating look at how the law operates at its most arcane yet financially consequential, A Patent Lie is further evidence that Paul Goldstein is an emerging master of the legal thriller.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Goldstein, a Stanford law professor and intellectual property expert, delivers on the promise of his thriller debut, Errors and Omissions(2006), with this outstanding sequel. Michael Seeley, who's living in seclusion in Buffalo, N.Y., agrees at his estranged brother's urging to travel to San Francisco to take on a patent infringement case that Vaxtek, a small company, is bringing against St. Gall, a Swiss pharmaceutical giant, over an AIDS vaccine. Robert Pearsall, the lead plaintiff's attorney, apparently committed suicide on the eve of trial. Surprised that Pearsall, known for his meticulous preparation, didn't depose Lily Warren, a St. Gall employee who claimed to have invented the vaccine, Seeley pursues that loose end, only to find that Warren's version of events raises questions about not only Seeley's clients but also his predecessor's death. In lean prose, Goldstein masterfully portrays the intricate courtroom maneuvering and the ethical dilemmas of trial attorneys. Scott Turow fans will welcome this complex protagonist."
--Publishers Weekly

"This is a smart, challenging novel, closer to Scott Turow's work than John Grisham's.... [T]he complexities of patent law and of the conspiracy at the heart of the lawsuit will be more readily grasped by lawyers than by the rest of us. Still, the lay reader may well be swept along by the plot and graceful writing even if he or she doesn't understand every legal point."
--Patrick Anderson, Washington Post
Read an excerpt from A Patent Lie, and learn more about the book and author from the publisher and at Paul Goldstein's website.

Paul Goldstein is the Lillick Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on intellectual property law. He is regularly included in The Best Lawyers in America and testifies before congressional committees and international government meetings on intellectual property issues.

The Page 69 Test: A Patent Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Best books about the factions and follies of psychiatry

Paul McHugh is a University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. His book Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind will be published in October.

At the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of "books about the factions and follies of psychiatry." One title from the list:
by Susan A. Clancy
Harvard, 2005

For decades, psychiatry has included a "far-out" faction that reliably turns to unusual sources in the pursuit of insight. The far-out crowd has embraced, among other things, mysticism, yoga and maharajahs and is usually headquartered in California. But in the mid-1990s the Harvard psychiatrist John Mack registered the ultimate far-out claim: Many patients, he said, were in need of treatment because space aliens had abducted and abused them. Susan Clancy, a psychologist -- also at Harvard -- was moved to study these patients for several reasons, but in part because they were plentiful in Boston. In "Abducted," she describes how patients with a variety of vague and confusing symptoms, such as recurrent nightmares and sleep paralysis, found reports of alien abduction an interesting possible explanation for their troubles and were brought to believe in it through treatments that included hypnosis. Many of these patients, it turned out, were pleased by what they came to believe. Being abducted by aliens, they thought, meant that they were "chosen" or "privileged" as human representatives. Alas, Clancy draws an analogy to Judeo-Christian beliefs. I would have preferred to see her give a nod to the observation, usually attributed to G.K. Chesterton, that people who don't believe in God are liable to believe in anything.
Read about another title on McHugh's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christina Thompson's "Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story by Christina Thompson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An extraordinary love story between a Maori man and an American woman, that inspires a graceful, revelatory search for understanding about the centuries-old collision of two wildly different cultures.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is the story of the cultural collision between Westerners and the Maoris of New Zealand, told partly as a history of the complex and bloody period of contact between Europeans and the Maoris in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and partly as the story of Christina Thompson’s marriage to a Maori man. As an American graduate student studying literature in Australia, Thompson traveled on holiday to New Zealand, where she met a Maori known as “Seven.” Their relationship was one of opposites: he was a tradesman, she an intellectual; he came from a background of rural poverty, she from one of middle-class privilege; he was a “native,” she descended directly from “colonizers.” Nevertheless, they shared a similar sense of adventure and a willingness to depart from the customs of their families and forge a life together on their own.

In this extraordinary book, which grows out of decades of research, Thompson explores the meaning of cross-cultural contact and the fascinating history of Europeans in the South Pacific, beginning with AbelTasman’s discovery of New Zealand in 1642 and James Cook’s famous circumnavigations of 1769—79. Transporting us back and forth in time and around the world, from Australia to Hawaii to tribal New Zealand and finally to a house in New England that has ghosts of its own, Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All brings to life a lush variety of characters and settings. Yet at its core, it is the story of two people who, in making a life and a family together, bridge the gap between two worlds.
Among the early praise for the book:
"A charming blend of travel writing, cultural history, anthropology, and memoir."
--Andrea Barrett, The Voyage of the Narwhal

"Few readers will forget their first meeting with the author, with her Maori husband, and with the historical context that swirls around them. Thompson writes beautifully, and, even more remarkably, she surprises us on every page."
--Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

"In this unusual hybrid of history and memoir, Harvard Review editor Thompson examines the historical collisions between Westerners and Maoris through the lens of her marriage to a Maori man. As an American grad student in Australia, Thompson met her husband-to-be, known as “Seven,” while on vacation in New Zealand. She was petite, blonde and intellectual; he was large, dark and working-class. Yet within a short time, they had married and started a family. Their relationship, and her scholarship, took them back and forth across the Pacific, until they finally settled in her family's New England home outside Boston.

Thompson's deep knowledge of the history of Europeans in the Pacific allows her to trace the misunderstandings and stereotypes that have marked perceptions of Polynesians up to the present day. A sensitive observer and polished stylist, Thompson is never dully tendentious or dogmatic. The narrative moves smoothly by way of well-told anecdotes both personal and historical. At times, Thompson covers so much territory—there's a stray chapter about her family's interactions with Native Americans in Minnesota—that it can feel like she's trying to do too much, yet her prose never disappoints. Seven, the man at the center of the book, remains pleasingly opaque, as if Thompson is saying that we can never know completely even those we love best."
--Publishers Weekly

"Perceptive, endearing look at the often fraught contacts between Maoris and Westerners, both in history and in the personal life of Harvard Review editor Thompson.

Two decades ago, while on vacation from her graduate studies in literature of the Pacific at the University of Melbourne, the Boston-raised author met a Maori man in Kerikeri, New Zealand. She and Seven (so-named because he is the seventh of ten children) fell in love, married, had three children and lived all over the Pacific before moving in with her parents near Boston. Thompson mingles this personal story with a candid examination of persistent, troubling issues of race and stereotype in the history of the two cultures’ encounters. The first was in 1642, when Dutch captain Abel Janszoon Tasman named the New Zealand inlet where his ships lay anchored “Murderers’ Bay” after a deadly collision with the local Maoris. Subsequent accounts, including those by Cook and Darwin, underscored the indigenous tribes’ “bellicose” nature, yet the author points out that the Maoris’ warlike image was most likely a byproduct of Western contact. Similarly, the initial bewilderment and misunderstanding between the two cultures experienced when she and Seven first met could easily have marred their relationship. Thompson gently portrays her husband’s decidedly non-Western worldview: his resistance to planning for the future, his superstitiousness and his sense of communalism. It challenged her ingrained notions of class and race, and it also occasionally supported the Noble Savage stereotype. “What was funny about living with Seven,” she writes, “was the way those musty paradigms…would periodically spring to life.” She closes with a heartfelt letter to the couple’s three sons, each containing “a little bit of the conqueror and conquered,” asking them not to be sentimental about their dual ancestry since, in the end, their parents aren’t as different as they look.

Honest, forthright self-examination engenders a well-wrought sense of shared destiny."
--Kirkus Reviews
Read excerpts from the book, and learn more about the author and her work at Christina Thompson's website.

Christina Thompson is the editor of Harvard Review. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous journals, including American Scholar, the Journal of Pacific History, Australian Literary Studies, and in the 1999, 2000, and 2006 editions of Best Australian Essays.

The Page 99 Test: Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 27, 2008

What is Hillary Rosner reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Hillary Rosner, a journalist specializing in science and environmental issues.

Rosner is the co-author, with David Bach, of the New York Times bestseller Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying. Her work has appeared recently in the New York Times, Popular Science, Men’s Journal, Seed, Audubon, Town & Country, and 5280. She has been a contributing editor at New York and a senior editor at the Village Voice, and has also written for Ski, Wired, Prevention, High Country News,,, The Industry Standard, and many other publications. She was also a contributor to Al Gore’s bestselling book An Inconvenient Truth, and to The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook.

Part of her entry at Writers Read:
I just bought Ed Park's recently published first novel, Personal Days, which is supposed to be loosely based on his years at the Village Voice, where we were colleagues....

I've also got Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007 close at hand, though I'm unfortunately almost done with it and I think there are about six more months until the 2008 edition.

And next on my novel list will, I think, be Janelle Brown's All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. [read on]
Visit Hillary Rosner's website.

Writers Read: Hillary Rosner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Faye Flam's "The Score"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Score: How The Quest For Sex Has Shaped The Modern Man.

About the book, from the publisher:
A smart, witty, and fresh look at the male side of the male-female relationship from a science writer and sex columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Beginning with a “boot camp” for wannabe pickup artists—where men pay thousands of dollars for three days of classroom seminars on how to get women into bed—Faye Flam’s quest for a deeper understanding of men takes her back through the evolutionary history of the human male.

Sweeping from the birth of the first male and female organisms to the sexual foibles of twenty-first-century humans, Flam shows how a small difference in the size of the first sperm and eggs set off a war between the sexes that we’re still fighting today. Since this primordial split, a consistent pattern of behavior has emerged: males use a stunning variety of strategies to make themselves attractive to females, and females put them through the wringer.

By placing the human male in the context of the natural world, Flam highlights some intriguing resemblances among males of all species, but also the unique challenges that men face when courting women—whether for a lifelong partnership or a one-night stand. Flam ultimately reveals that millions of years of evolution have left the love lives of humans suspended somewhere between monogamy and promiscuity, and that it is this eons-old tension between males and females that has created the modern man.
Among the acclaim for The Score:
"To explain why guys will basically do (and spend) anything to have sex, Flam takes us back 3.5 billion years to the proverbial primordial swamp we crawled out of—a stew of asexual bacteria. It was here, a mere 600 million years ago, that two organisms accidentally banged into each other, sex was born, and life on earth (and in the City) really got interesting.... Flam wrestles billions of years of science into an understandable and engrossing narrative, peppered with plenty of anecdotal animal-world examples that will leave you awed and amazed. She answers the burning questions you may or may not have had stewing in the back of your mind since eighth grade like: Why do humans come in (give or take) two sexes, instead of 30,000+ like mushrooms? and Are there gay animals? Plus those that come up regularly at the dinner table like: If we can have babies without sex, do we really need males? and Why, oh why, do men like porn so much more than women like porn?"
--Playgirl blog

"Faye Flam knows exactly how to make sex scientific and how to make science sexy. She penetrates the mysteries of human and animal passion with great style".
--Matt Ridley, author of Genome and The Red Queen

"Faye Flam provides a fascinating tour of how the quest for sex has shaped the evolution of human and nature in all of its staggeringly delightful forms. Written with a deft touch and humorous hand, The Score is anchored in solid science of sexuality. It takes readers on a journey of insights that ranges from the tactics of pick-up artists to some surprising benefits of testosterone. Faye Flam has a genius for spanning different scientific disciplines, and bringing out the hidden gems contained in each. I couldn't put the book down."
--David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire

"Offering a fascinating look at everything from transsexual snakes and the long corkscrew penises of ducks to club pickup techniques and the connection between male scum and scum that is male, Faye Flam ranges broadly over many disciplines to show how sexual strivings and strategies have shaped not only us, but virtually the whole animal kingdom. Whether you're interested in cads or cod, The Score will provide you with scores of compelling, often counterintuitive insights."
--John Allen Paulos, professor of mathematics at Temple University, and author of Innumeracy and Irreligion

"Faye Flam's fabulous new book reads like Sex in the City but pulls together the best scientific studies on human sexuality, explaining on so many levels just how driven we all are by these baser instincts, and how that makes an evolutionary explanation for sex so compelling. The Score is one sexy book written by one sexy woman. Read it and score yourself."
--Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why Darwin Matters and The Mind of the Market

"Faye Flam is a very clever writer, smart and witty. She wears her scholarship lightly, stylishly, and with a wink. Men picking up this book hoping for tips on bedding women might at first be disappointed, but if they stick around they might learn the most important pick-up skill of all: To listen. After all, chances are she’s smarter than you, and more entertaining. There’s no better proof of that than this book."
--Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down
Read an excerpt from The Score, and learn more about the book and author at Faye Flam's website.

Faye Flam has been covering science for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1995. In June 2005, she started writing “Carnal Knowledge,” a weekly column about the science of sex. She has also written for New Scientist, Science, and The Economist. A graduate of California Institute of Technology, Flam was recently a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan.

The Page 69 Test: The Score.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pg. 99: Marek Kohn's "Trust"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Marek Kohn's Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good.

About the book, from the publisher:
Trust--whether between parents and children, merchants and shoppers, or citizens and their government--lies at the very heart of our relationships, our society, and our everyday lives.

This vividly written compact book reveals how modern thinkers--scientists, social scientists, and philosophers--have shed much light on the nature of trust. Beginning with some fascinating evolutionary puzzles about the origins of trust--for instance, how cooperation can evolve among individuals pursuing their own selfish interests--Marek Kohn incorporates many different perspectives from the fields of science, sociology, economics, and politics, to draw out the wider implications for trust in human society today. The book discusses trust in gods and how people have sought to reinvest this trust as religious faith has diminished; the effect of low social trust on economic development; and the loss of trust between mutually antagonistic communities, each warming itself by the flames of its hostility to the other. He shows how Communism relied on distrust, and devoted much of its energy to seeding it among its subjects, and Liberal democracy is also based on distrust, but in the opposite direction: it is founded upon the suspicion that the powerful will be tempted to abuse their power, and so must be subject to checks and balances. Perhaps most important, he shows that if we understand what makes trust possible, and why it matters, then we will live better lives in a fast-moving, fast-changing, global society.

Following in the footsteps of Oxford's highly popular books Happiness and Emotion, this compact book illuminates a precious and elusive quality that serves as the bedrock of a fulfilling life and the good society.
Watch a brief video of the author explaining why trust--and Trust--is worthwhile.

Read an excerpt from Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good, and learn more about the book and author at the Oxford University Press webpage and Marek Kohn's website.

Marek Kohn is a fellow in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex and in the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton. His books include Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground, As We Know It: Coming to Terms with an Evolved Mind, and A Reason For Everything: Natural Selection and the English Imagination.

The Page 99 Test: Trust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Influential cookbooks: Brian Landry

I've posted a new entry at Dining with Bacchus. It's about my visit with Chef Brian Landry of Galatoire's and Galatoire's Bistro.

The chef and his team served me some great food and we had a wide ranging discussion. I learned lot about the extraordinary quantities of seafood that Galatoire's serves, how to prepare his award-winning Sautéed Cobia with Louisiana Crab Butter (hint: start with a mallet), and how the chef stays lean in spite of having to taste four soups and five sauces every day at the start of service.

I also asked Chef Landry about cookbooks that he considers influential to his approach to cooking. (His house took on 8 feet of water during Katrina, and he's still rebuilding his book collection.) He mentioned a few titles, some for reference--Larousse Gastronomique, Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, and John Folse's The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine--and others for inspiration, including:
Michel Richard, Happy in the Kitchen

Eric Ripert, A Return to Cooking
Read the interview at Dining with Bacchus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bret Lott's "Ancient Highway"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Bret Lott's Ancient Highway.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of Jewel and The Difference Between Women and Men comes a haunting novel of home, family, and the pursuit of lost dreams. Ancient Highway brilliantly weaves together the hopes and regrets of three characters from three generations as they reconcile who they are and who they might have been.

In 1925, a fourteen-year-old boy leaves his family’s farm and hops a boxcar in a dusty Texas field, heading for Hollywood and a life in the “flickers.”

In 1947, a ten-year-old girl aches for a real home with a real family in a wide-open space, far from the crowded Los Angeles streets where her handsome cowboy father chases stardom and her mother holds a secret.

In 1980, a young man just out of the Navy visits his elderly yet colorful grandparents in Los Angeles, eager to uncover his family’s silent history.

For the Holmeses, a longing for something else–another place, a second chance–seems to run in the family DNA. From Earl’s journey west toward Hollywood glory, to his daughter Joan’s wish for a normal existence away from the bright lights, to his grandson Brad’s yearning for truth, this deep-rooted desire sustains them, no matter how much the goal eludes them. But ultimately, in each generation, a family crisis forces a turning away from the horizon and the acceptance of a reality that is by turns harsh and healing.

Inspired by stories of his own family, Bret Lott beautifully renders the lives of ordinary people with extraordinary faith in a mesmerizing and finely wrought tale of love and letting go.
Among the early praise for Ancient Highway:
“A chance to visit a country of grace where the twisted roads of American literature seldom lead us . . . We can only admire the way Lott . . . creates and differentiates so many characters and sets them into action so naturally.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Bret Lott’s writings tell us about the value of family, even when those relationships burst at their psychic seams. Mostly, though, Lott’s fiction takes us into a world marked by traditional values of lasting love, honor and respect. . . . Lott’s majestic prose, with its biblical cadences, further distinguishes this capacious parable of enduring grace and love.”
The Charlotte Observer
Read more about Ancient Highway and Bret Lott's other work at his Random House webpage.

Bret Lott's books include the novels A Song I Knew by Heart, Jewel (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), The Hunt Club, Reed’s Beach, A Stranger’s House, and The Man Who Owned Vermont; and the story collections A Dream of Old Leaves, How to Get Home, and The Difference Between Women and Men; the memoir Fathers, Sons, and Brothers; and the writing guide Before We Get Started.

The Page 69 Test: Ancient Highway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lisa Shearin's "Magic Lost, Trouble Found," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed & Magical.

Her discussion about casting for an adaptation opens:
For me, it’s the characters who make a book, and their relationships that weave the story. I’ve never been big on physical descriptions in my books, yet I have a detailed image of each character in my mind as I write. A couple of months ago on my blog, I thought it’d be fun to have my fans weigh in on who they thought should play my characters should I ever get The Call from Peter Jackson. It was amazing to me how many different impressions readers have of my characters—and it was a lot of fun.

My main character, the elven sorceress and seeker Raine Benares, defends her friends by going toe-to-toe with the bad guys. She’s tough, yet caring, and you never know what she’s going to say or do next. I think Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Guild) or Miranda Otto (LOTR) would be excellent choices. For the hot and handsome elven Guardian, Mychael Eiliesor,...[read on]
Read the first few chapters of both Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed & Magical at Lisa Shearin’s website.

Lisa Shearin has been a magazine editor, advertising copywriter, and writer of corporate marketing materials of every description. Her novels include Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed & Magical. A unique blend of fantasy, adventure and romance, Lisa’s series features Raine Benares, a sorceress and seeker—a finder of things lost and people missing. Raine’s third adventure, The Trouble With Demons, will hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2009.

My Book, The Movie: Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed & Magical.

--Marshal Zeringue

Critic's chart: six Spanish civil war books

Thomas Catán named a "critic's chart" of Spanish civil war books for the London Times.

One novel on his list:
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Despite flaws, Hemingway's tale of civil war fighters is the most evocative account of life at the front.
Read about the book at the top of Catán's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ekaterina Sedia's "The Alchemy of Stone"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Ekaterina Sedia's The Alchemy of Stone.

About the book, from the author's website:
A steampunk novel of romance, political intrigue, and alchemy, The Alchemy of Stone represents a new and intriguing direction by the author of the critically-acclaimed The Secret History of Moscow: Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets-secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. However, this doesn't sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart ... literally.
The Alchemy of Stone is on the Los Angeles Times 2008 Summer Reading List.

Learn more about the book and author at Ekaterina Sedia's website and blog.

Sedia is the author of the critically-acclaimed The Secret History of Moscow and editor of the anthology Paper Cities.

The Page 99 Test: The Alchemy of Stone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What is Ruth Dudley Edwards reading?

The latest featured contributor to Writers Read: Ruth Dudley Edwards, journalist, historian and prize-winning biographer, and crime novelist.

One paragraph from her entry:
I'm spending most of my days in court in Belfast or Dublin covering the civil case against the Omagh bombers - about which I'm writing a book. Terrorism is these days my main interest, so I'm reading Michael Burleigh's chilling but very lively Blood and Rage: a cultural history of terrorism. [read on]
Edwards won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Victor Gollancz: a biography.

Her non-fiction books include True Brits: inside the Foreign Office, The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843-1993, The Faithful Tribe: an intimate portrait of the loyal institutions, and Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil Harmsworth King and the glory days of Fleet Street.

Her crime novels include Murdering Americans, which is set in the academic world of Indiana. It won the 2008 Last Laugh Award, awarded at Crimefest.

Poisoned Pen Press has recently republished her novel Clubbed to Death.

Visit Ruth Dudley Edwards' website.

Writers Read: Ruth Dudley Edwards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Andrew Blechman's "Leisureville"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Andrew Blechman's Leisureville—Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of Pigeons comes a first-handlook at America’s senior utopias, gated retirementcommunities where no kids are allowed.

Andrew Blechman’s first book, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Pigeons, was a charming look at the much-maligned bird and the quirky subcultures that flock to it. In Leisureville, Blechman investigates another subculture, but one with more significant consequences.

When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retirement community in Florida called “The Villages,” Blechman is astonished by their stories, so he goes to investigate. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV stations, The Villages is a city of nearly one hundred thousand (and growing), missing only one thing: children. Started in the 1950s and popularized by Del Webb’s Sun City, age-segregated retirement is an exploding phenomenon. More than twelve million people will soon live in these communities, under restrictive covenants, with limited local government, and behind gates that exclude children. And not all of the residents are seniors, or even retirees.

Blechman delves into life in the senior utopia, offering a hilarious first-hand report on all its peculiarities, from ersatz nostalgia and golf-cart mania to manufactured history and the residents’ surprisingly active sex life. He introduces us to dozens of outrageous characters including the Villages press-wary developer who wields remarkable control over the community, and an aging ladies man named Mr. Midnight, with whom Blechman repeatedly samples the nightlife.

But Leisureville is more than just a romp through retirement paradise: Blechman traces the history of the trend, and travels to Arizona to show what has happened to the pioneering utopias after decades of segregation. He investigates the government of these “instant” cities, attends a builder’s conference, speaks with housing experts, and examines the implications of millions of Americans dropping out of society to live under legal segregation. This is an important book on an underreported phenomenon that is only going to get bigger, as baby boomers reach retirement age. A fascinating blend of serious history, social criticism, and hilarious, engaging reportage, Leisureville couldn’t come at a better time.
Among the early acclaim for Leisureville:
"Fascinating…. Secession movements are an American instinct, and Blechman sees one afoot in the migration of young, well-off retirees to the land of golf and sunshine…. If you are squeamish at the thought of people over 55 socializing, having sex, drinking, smoking pot, line dancing and saying they are happy with their lives, avert your eyes now…. Blechman disappears down the rabbit hole."
New York Times Sunday Book Review

"After reading Leisureville, the first thing I have to say is: Listen up."
Washington Post

“Part investigative journalism, part humor and part social critique, the book explores the attraction of these communities, what it’s really like behind the gated walls … and what the phenomenon means for America at large. Blechman is no ideologue. He is quick to point out the perceived faults of age-segregated communities, but he’s not blind to their appeal, either."
The AARP Bulletin

"Leisureville is not only an entertaining chronicle ... but also a perceptive analysis of the social, economic, and political implications of segregated, privatized living."
Boston Globe
Read an excerpt from Leisureville, and learn more about book and author at Andrew D. Blechman's website.

Andrew Blechman has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Des Moines Register. His work has also appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune, among others. His first book, Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird, was widely praised in the media and featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

The Page 69 Test: Pigeons.

The Page 69 Test: Leisureville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Choate's "Emigrant Nation"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Mark Choate's Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1880 and 1915, thirteen million Italians left their homeland, launching the largest emigration from any country in recorded world history. As the young Italian state struggled to adapt to the exodus, it pioneered the establishment of a “global nation”—an Italy abroad cemented by ties of culture, religion, ethnicity, and economics.

In this wide-ranging work, Mark Choate examines the relationship between the Italian emigrants, their new communities, and their home country. The state maintained that emigrants were linked to Italy and to one another through a shared culture. Officials established a variety of programs to coordinate Italian communities worldwide. They fostered identity through schools, athletic groups, the Dante Alighieri Society, the Italian Geographic Society, the Catholic Church, Chambers of Commerce, and special banks to handle emigrant remittances. But the projects aimed at binding Italians together also raised intense debates over priorities and the emigrants’ best interests. Did encouraging loyalty to Italy make the emigrants less successful at integrating? Were funds better spent on supporting the home nation rather than sustaining overseas connections?

In its probing discussion of immigrant culture, transnational identities, and international politics, this fascinating book not only narrates the grand story of Italian emigration but also provides important background to immigration debates that continue to this day.
Among the early praise for Emigrant Nation:
"Emigrant Nation is a compelling study that will be of great interest to scholars and students of migration in the past as well as the present. Through a fascinating analysis of the impact of emigration on Italy a century ago--and the Italian government's involvement with its emigrants abroad--Mark Choate makes an important contribution to our understanding of the global and transnational processes that are of such concern today."
--Nancy Foner, author of In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration

"Why is it that Italians abroad have often seemed more 'Italian' than those at home? In this lively and amply documented study, Choate shows that between 1885 and 1915 Italian governments sponsored an emigrant colonialism among Italians worldwide that they hoped would invigorate the making of a 'global nation' both at home and abroad. This book sheds light on how people leaving home helped reconstitute the identity of those they left behind."
--John Agnew, author of Place and Politics in Modern Italy

"Mark Choate succeeds in making emigration a central rather than peripheral theme of Italy's history, closely linking it to Italy's desire for imperial and cultural influence abroad and nation-building challenges at home. Readers will find especially compelling the implications of Italy's unique history for contemporary emigrant nations such as Mexico and the Philippines."
--Donna R. Gabaccia, author of We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans
Read an excerpt from Emigrant Nation, and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press webpage and Mark Choate's website.

Mark Choate is a history professor at Brigham Young University.

The Page 99 Test: Emigrant Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 23, 2008

Most important books: Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis' books include Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and The Blind Side.

He talked to Newsweek about his five most important books. And addressed a couple of related issues:
A book to which you always return:

George Orwell's "Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters" reminds me of the force of a writer working to strip his prose of pretension and nonsense.

A book you hope parents give to their children:

"His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. Even my 8-year-old could sense she was in the grips of a master storyteller.
Read more about Lewis' most important books.

The Page 69 Test: The Blind Side.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tana French's "In the Woods"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Tana French's In the Woods.

About the book, from the publisher:
A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.
Among the praise for the novel:
"Ambitious and extraordinary."
--Washington Post

"Intelligent and beautifully written… An outstanding debut."
--Booklist (starred review)

"A compellingly complex case with nuanced characters and a richly detailed sense of place."

"Harrowing… [French] sets a vivid scene for her complex characters… The intricate nature of her storytelling is something of its own reward… Drawn by the grim nature of her plot and the lyrical ferocity of her writing, even smart people who should know better will be able to lose themselves in these dark woods."
--The New York Times Book Review
Read a brief excerpt from In the Woods, and learn more about the novel and author at Tana French's website.

In the Woods won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Barry Siegel's "Claim of Privilege"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Barry Siegel's Claim of Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the tradition of A Civil Action and Gideon's Trumpet, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barry Siegel unfolds the shocking true story behind the Supreme Court case that forever changed the balance of power in America.

On October 6, 1948, a trio of civilian engineers joined a U.S. Air Force crew on a B-29 Superfortress, whose mission was to test secret navigational equipment. Shortly after takeoff the plane crashed, killing all three engineers and six others. In June 1949, the widows of the engineers filed suit against the government. What had happened to their men? they asked. Why had these civilians been aboard an Air Force plane in the first place?

But the Air Force, at the dawn of the Cold War, refused to hand over the accident reports and witness statements, claiming the documents contained classified information that would threaten national security. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court, which in 1953 sided with the Air Force in United States v. Reynolds. This landmark decision formally recognized the "state secrets" privilege, a legal precedent that has since been used to conceal conduct, withhold documents, block troublesome litigation, and, most recently, detain terror suspects without due-process protections.

Even with the case closed, the families of those who died in the crash never stopped wondering what had happened in that B-29. They finally had their answer a half century later: In 2000 they learned that the government was now making available the top-secret information the families had sought long ago, in vain. The documents, it turned out, contained no national security secrets but rather a shocking chronicle of negligence.

Equal parts history, legal drama, and exposé, Claim of Privilege tells the story of this shameful incident, its impact on our nation, and a courageous fight to right a wrong from the past. Placing the story within the context of the time, Siegel draws clear connections between the apocalyptic fears of the early Cold War years and post-9/11 America—and shows the dangerous consequences of this historic cover-up: the violation of civil liberties and the abuse of constitutional protections. By evoking the past, Claim of Privilege illuminates the present. Here is a mesmerizing narrative that indicts what our government is willing to do in the name of national security.
Among the early acclaim for the book:
"Barry Siegel’s Claim of Privilege uncovers the mystery behind a famous Supreme Court case, reveals its poignant human cost, and offers a timely reminder of the perils of government secrecy."
–Jeffery Toobin, New York Times best-selling author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

"Meticulously researched and compulsively readable, Claim of Privilege lays bare a government coverup more than fifty years ago that resonates today. Anyone who wonders how we became a nation at the mercy of an administration that can order wiretaps and brutal interrogation techniques with impunity needs to read this important work of literary reportage."
–Gay Talese

"Barry Siegel is a writer's writer. His scenes and characters never fail to fire the imagination and tug at the emotions. With Barry Siegel you don't read a story. You feel it. You live it. And you always want more."
–Michael Connelly

"Occasionally journalists like Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe come along...whose work transcends traditional standards of reportage and, when gathered in book form, earns for its creators a literary cachet as lasting as that of any author. Barry Siegel is in that league."
–Steven Kane, L.A. Style
Read an excerpt from Claim of Privilege, and learn more about the book and author at Barry Siegel’s website.

Barry Siegel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, directs the literary journalism program at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of six books, including three volumes of narrative nonfiction and three novels of legal suspense.

The Page 99 Test: Claim of Privilege.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What is Lijia Zhang reading?

The latest featured contributor to Writers Read: Lijia Zhang, a writer, journalist, social commentator, and author of the newly released, "Socialism Is Great!": A Worker’s Memoir of the New China.

Her entry starts:
As a journalist reporting from China, I always try to read new books about China. Recently, I read a few good ones.

The Little Red Book of China Business by Sheila Melvin. This is not another book for how to do business in China, cashing in on the large potential of the China market and the need for guidance through the political and cultural maze. This is a most unusual book about how to apply Chairman Mao’s thoughts to understanding business culture in China. It sounds wacky, but makes sense. Although Mao died over 30 years ago, he influenced the new generation of business leaders and his legacy lives on. With her deep knowledge and insight into the culture, Ms. Melvin unlocks many secrets to business success in China. Her accessible writing style and funny anecdotes make this a highly enjoyable read. [read on]
Read an excerpt from "Socialism Is Great!" and visit Lijia Zhang's website.

Jonathan Spence, author of The Death of Woman Wang and Return to Dragon Mountain, on Lijia Zhang's "Socialism Is Great!":
Lijia Zhang has written a sharply observant and admirably crafted memoir of her life in China during the 1980s, the period between the first effusions of Democracy Wall and the tragedy of Tiananmen Square. In this memoir, Zhang places her own first experiences with factory work, foreign literature, physical desire, and political activism, in the broader setting of fading Maoist impulses and the beginnings of China's headlong pursuit of economic growth. The result is a truly original contribution to our understanding of modern China.
Writers Read: Lijia Zhang.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christina Meldrum's "Madapple"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Christina Meldrum's Madapple.

About the book, from the publisher:
THE SECRETS OF the past meet the shocks of the present.

Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language—but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be.

When Aslaug’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next.

About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day.

Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention—and of the darkest corners of the human soul.
Among the early praise for Madapple:
"In debut novelist Christina Meldrum's mesmerizing literary mystery MADAPPLE, the worlds of science and faith collide."
Vanity Fair

"Theology is on trial in this extraordinary first novel...”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“With this spellbinding debut, Meldrum marks herself as an author to watch.”
Kirkus, starred review

“There is much to ponder in this enthralling achievement from a debut author.”
Booklist, starred review
Read an excerpt from Madapple, and learn more about the book and author at Christina Meldrum's website.

Christina Meldrum received her Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and political science from the University of Michigan. After working in grassroots development in Africa, she earned her law degree from Harvard Law School. She has worked for the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, Switzerland, and as a litigator at the law firm of Shearman & Sterling.

Madapple is her first novel.

The Page 69 Test: Madapple.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pg. 99: Jonathan Santlofer's "The Murder Notebook"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Jonathan Santlofer's The Murder Notebook.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jonathan Santlofer once again combines his extraordinary talents as both a writer and an artist in this second chilling thriller featuring NYPD forensic sketch artist Nate Rodriguez. Though plagued by the death of his father years ago, Rodriguez has little time to dwell on the past. A rash of seemingly unrelated murders holds New York City in a gridlock of terror, and with his reputation for having a sixth sense—an uncanny ability to draw things he hasn't even seen—Rodriguez lands a spot on the task force investigating the crimes. But with his mind's eye clouded, he's forced to search for an answer the old-fashioned way: by hitting the streets.

Rodriguez begins to suspect a common thread between the victims, confirmed when more bodies turn up—those of the killers themselves. As the slayings continue, the link between the crimes comes into focus and Rodriguez must convince the NYPD that they are up against something bigger—and more heinous—than anyone ever suspected.

The Murder Notebook is a smart, innovative suspense novel with a terrifying, ripped-from-the-headlines urgency. Where is the line between advancement and criminality in matters of manipulating the human psyche? What would happen if someone were no longer able to feel fear? With his unique blend of gripping prose and original sketches, Jonathan Santlofer has crafted a tale of morality and duty, love and justice, that is as shocking as it is timely.
Linda Fairstein on forensic sketch artist Nate Rodriguez: "Jonathan Santlofer has created an amazing character whose creative skills and investigative experience take the genre in entirely new directions."

Read an excerpt from The Murder Notebook, and learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Santlofer's website.

View the video trailer for The Murder Notebook.

Jonathan Santlofer is the author of several novels--Color Blind, The Death Artist, The Killing Art, and Anatomy of Fear--and a highly respected artist whose work has been written about and reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, and Arts, and appears in many public, private, and corporate collections.

Anatomy of Fear and the Page 99 and Page 69 Tests.

The Page 99 Test: The Murder Notebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best: books about sailing

Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, author, most recently, of Force of Nature, is the first person to have sailed solo and nonstop around the world.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a list of his favorite books about sailing. One title on his list:
Last Man Across the Atlantic
by Paul Heiney
Mainstream, 2006

So many sailors have crossed the Atlantic by themselves and then written up their accounts that it is hard to think that there is anything else to say. But Paul Heiney managed to produce one of the most readable books on an Atlantic crossing that I have ever encountered. Heiney, a longtime consumer-affairs broadcaster in Britain, was not that experienced a sailor when he entered the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race in 2005. Indeed, he finished, if not last, as his title suggests, then next to last. But with so many yachtsmen taking up longer voyages, this book reminds us of the sorts of difficulties that a comparative newcomer might expect -- coping with torn sails and rotten food far out to sea. It can also be savored simply as a story well told.
Read about the book that topped Knox-Johnson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue