Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Five top crime novels from Scandinavia

Martin Österdahl has studied Russian, East European studies, and economics. He worked with TV productions for twenty years and was simultaneously the program director at Swedish Television. His interest in Russia and its culture arose in the early 1980s. After studying Russian at university and having had the opportunity to go behind the Iron Curtain more than once, he decided to relocate and finish his master’s thesis there.

The 1990s were a very exciting time in Russia, and 1996, with its presidential election, was a particularly crucial year. Seeing history in the making inspired Österdahl to write the first novel in the Max Anger series, Ask No Mercy. The series has been sold to more than ten territories and is soon to be a major TV series.

At CrimeReads he tagged five crime novels from Scandinavia that show the breadth of the genre, including:
The Hermit, by Thomas Rydahl

Awarded with both the Danish Debutant Award and The Glass Key for best Nordic Crime novel, Rydahl should thank his brainwaves for inventing a highly unusual hero; Erhard, an elderly Danish expat. Living as a recluse with two goats, he is disillusioned with the ways of modern life and failed family relations, and he has nothing to lose. When he discovers an abandoned car, with the body of a young boy in a cardboard box in the trunk, on his Spanish island of Fuerteventura, the police want to cut investigations short not to harm tourism, and nobody believes that a hermit, with no knowledge of cell phones, internet or computers, could possibly solve the mystery. Off beat and different, highly compelling.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece's "The Optical Vacuum"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Optical Vacuum: Spectatorship and Modernized American Theater Architecture by Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the 1920s and the 1960s, American mainstream cinematic architecture underwent a seismic shift. From the massive movie palace to the intimate streamlined theater, movie theaters became neutralized spaces for calibrated, immersive watching. Leading this charge was New York architect Benjamin Schlanger, a fiery polemicist whose designs and essays reshaped how movies were watched. In its close examination of Schlanger's work and of changing patterns of spectatorship, this book reveals that the essence of film viewing lies not only in the text, but in the spaces where movies are shown. The Optical Vacuum demonstrates that our changing models of cinephilia are always determined by physical structure: from the decorations of the palace to the black box of the contemporary auditorium, variations in movie theater design are icons for how viewing has similarly transformed.
Learn more about The Optical Vacuum at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Optical Vacuum.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Five top books about deforestation

John Vidal was the Guardian's environment editor. He is the author of McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial. One of five of the best books about deforestation he tagged at the Guardian:
Veteran US entomologist EO Wilson, a world authority on biodiversity, offers the planetary view. Destroying rainforest for economic gain, he says, is like “burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal”. In his 2002 book The Future of Life, he asserts that the loss of forest over the last 50 years has been one of the most profound environmental changes in the history of Earth: “The forests are the abattoirs of extinction, shattered into fragments that are then being severed, adulterated or erased one by one. The last frontiers of the world are effectively gone, an Armageddon is approaching.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Alan Gardner's "They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded by James Alan Gardner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven’t even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in the hunt for a Mad Genius’s misplaced super-weapon.

But when Jools falls in with a modern-day Robin Hood and his band of super-powered Merry Men, she finds it hard to sort out the Good Guys from the Bad Guys—and to figure out which side she truly belongs on.

Especially since nobody knows exactly what the Gun does....
Visit James Alan Gardner's website.

The Page 69 Test: They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rysa Walker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rysa Walker, author of The Delphi Revolution.

Her entry begins:
I’m almost always in the middle of three books at once--one audiobook, one fiction, and one non-fiction. I tend to listen while in the car or cleaning house, and I switch back and forth between the non-fiction and fiction on the Kindle depending on my mood.

On audio, I’m currently enjoying Storm Glass, the first book of the Harbinger series by Jeff Wheeler. I loved Wheeler’s Kingfountain series, and have now passed it along to my oldest son, and this new tale is shaping up to be equally good. World-building is always strong in Wheeler’s books, and this new series is as richly detailed as Kingfountain, with characters that quickly became real to me. As an added bonus...[read on]
About The Delphi Revolution, from the publisher:
A psychotic killer hijacked her mind and her body. She’s taking them back.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Morgan is on the run from the very government project that created her abilities. Now they seek to weaponize the gift she doesn’t want and can’t control: the invasion of her mind and her body by spirits, some of whom have their own unusual powers. Her latest “hitcher” is a former top Delphi executive. Unlike Anna’s previous guests, this one has taken over, and he’s on a personal mission of revenge.

The target is Senator Ronald Cregg, a corrupt, power-hungry presidential candidate. One of Delphi’s creators, he’s now manipulating the public into believing “psychic terrorists” are a scourge to be eliminated. There’s only one way to stop him, but Anna draws the line at murder.

Pulled into a dark conspiracy, Anna struggles to reclaim her body, mind, and soul as she and the other Delphi psychics join together to fight for their right to exist.
Visit Rysa Walker's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Delphi Revolution.

Writers Read: Rysa Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 19, 2018

Elliott J. Gorn's "Mother Jones," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Elliott J. Gorn.

His entry begins:
I just finished a book about the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi. Let the People See tells the story of the racist lynching of the fourteen-year-old who whistled at a white woman, the trial of his killers, and how the memory of those events changed over the years. I won’t ever make a movie about Emmett Till because good documentaries have already appeared, and now Hollywood is producing a feature film.

But I would love to help make a movie about a book I wrote a few years ago, Mother Jones, The Most Dangerous Woman in America.

Who? Mother Jones was one of the most famous Americans back in 1910 or 1920. She was an old woman, an Irish famine immigrant, widowed, poor. Yet she knew presidents and captains of industry. She was the Johnny Appleseed of activists, especially organizing workers, especially coal miners. Her friend the author Upton Sinclair, described her at the podium: “she had force, she had wit, she had the fire of determination; she was the walking wrath of God.”

She regaled her audiences with stories. She’d describe the prisoner who told her that he’d stolen a pair of shoes; you should have stolen a railroad, Mother Jones said, then you’d be a United States Senator. She told how, when asked her address by a Congressional Committee, she replied my address is like my shoes, it follows me wherever I go. She’d admonish women audiences not to be...[read on]
Learn more about Mother Jones.

The Page 99 Test: Let the People See.

My Book, The Movie: Mother Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top seaside tales

Lynne Truss is a celebrated author, screenwriter, columnist, and broadcaster. Truss is the writer of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the bestselling book on punctuation Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Her new novel is A Shot in the Dark.

One of the author's six favorite seaside tales, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson (2016).

This fantastic novel, imagining the period when crime writer Patricia Highsmith lived in a small English cottage, sweeps you up — just as Highsmith did herself — on a high tide of guilt and fear, and includes a nighttime scene of our heroine immersed in the North Sea, clumsily committing a dead body to the black waves. Have I mentioned that I am terrified to go into the sea myself? Again, a masterly description explains why.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Heidler & Jeanne Heidler's "The Rise of Andrew Jackson"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of Andrew Jackson’s improbable ascent to the White House, centered on the handlers and propagandists who made it possible

Andrew Jackson was volatile and prone to violence, and well into his forties his sole claim on the public’s affections derived from his victory in a thirty-minute battle at New Orleans in early 1815. Yet those in his immediate circle believed he was a great man who should be president of the United States.

Jackson’s election in 1828 is usually viewed as a result of the expansion of democracy. Historians David and Jeanne Heidler argue that he actually owed his victory to his closest supporters, who wrote hagiographies of him, founded newspapers to savage his enemies, and built a political network that was always on message. In transforming a difficult man into a paragon of republican virtue, the Jacksonites exploded the old order and created a mode of electioneering that has been mimicked ever since.
Learn more about the book and authors at David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler's website.

My Book, The Movie: Washington’s Circle.

The Page 99 Test: Washington’s Circle.

My Book, The Movie: The Rise of Andrew Jackson.

The Page 99 Test: The Rise of Andrew Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Greta Gerwig's ten favorite books

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and director (Lady Bird). One of her ten favorite books, as shared at Vulture.com:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this book, Ms. Adichie has constructed a full-on romance that has the addictive power of a Jane Austen novel but with the specifics of life in Nigeria, as well as life in the United States as an immigrant. I fell in love with Ifemelu and Obinze in a way that I haven’t felt since I was a child reading novels for the first time.
Read about another entry on the list.

Americanah is among Nada Awar Jarrar's ten favorite books about exile.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What is Vicki Delany reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Vicki Delany, author of A Scandal in Scarlet: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery.

Her entry begins:
I am almost finished Hunters in the Dark by Lawrence Osborne. Osborne is a new writer to me, and I picked up this book after listing to him being interviewed on CBC radio. He is English, and lives in Thailand and brings the perspective of an ex-pat to his writing about South East Asia.

I don’t have a lot of experience with South East Asia but I have been lucky enough to visit twice, once to Vietnam and once to Malaysia. I loved it, and am very much looking forward to going back. My experience has been nothing but a tourist on an organized tour, so an insight into the deeper society sounded like a good read to me. Hunters in the Dark is set in Cambodia, and it is absolutely drenched in atmosphere and setting. I’m about...[read on]
About A Scandal in Scarlet, from the publisher:
Gemma and Jayne donate their time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned out museum—but a killer wants a piece of the auction.

Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear.

Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups—a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s. Gemma’s boyfriend in blue, Ryan Ashburton, arrives on the scene with Detective Louise Estrada. But the suspect list is long, and the case far from elementary. Does Kathy’s killing have any relation to a mysterious death of seven years ago?

Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
Visit Vicki Delany's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen.

The Page 69 Test: A Scandal in Scarlet.

Writers Read: Vicki Delany.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top boozy cozy mysteries

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

The Pint of No Return is Alexander's latest novel in the Sloan Krause brewing series.

One of the author's five favorite boozy cozy mysteries, as shared at CrimeReads:
The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby

Next, we’re off to Virginia to pop open a bottle of bubbly with Lucie Montgomery. Winter is settling in on the family estate where Lucie and wine maker extraordinaire Quinn Santori are trying their hand at champagne. Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day, but Lucie finds herself immersed in history as she traces a murder from the past that leads to danger in the present. This sparkling vintage will take you back to the Prohibition Era complete with speakeasies and nefarious bootleggers. Lucie will help prove that murder is best served chilled on ice.
Learn about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thelma Adams's "Bittersweet Brooklyn"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Bittersweet Brooklyn: A Novel by Thelma Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:
In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder?

After midnight, Thelma Lorber enters her brother Abie’s hangout under the Williamsburg Bridge, finding Jewish mobster Louis “Pretty” Amberg in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. She could flee. Instead, in the dark hours of that October 1935 night before the dawn of Murder, Inc., she remains beside the fierce, funny brother who has nurtured and protected her since childhood. There are many kinds of love a woman can feel for a man, but few compare to that of the baby sister for her older brother. For Thelma, a wild widow tethered to a young son, Abie is the center of her world. But that love is about to undo everything she holds dear…

Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.
Learn more about the book and author at Thelma Adams' website.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

My Book, The Movie: Playdate.

The Page 69 Test: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Rosemary Simpson's "Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets: A Gilded Age Mystery #3 by Rosemary Simpson.

The entry begins:
I have to admit that I rarely picture an actor playing any of the characters I develop in the Gilded Age Mystery series. I think that's because I know them so well and have such a clear picture of them in my head that they don't closely resemble any real individuals. I've also seen enough film adaptations of novels I've enjoyed, and some I haven't, to realize that no matter how good the actor's portrayal, it can never match the scene I imagined as I read the book. That's the beauty of...[read on]
Visit Rosemary Simpson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Ellie Kemper's ten favorite books

Ellie Kemper is the Emmy-nominated star of the Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She portrayed Erin Hannon on NBC’s The Office; costarred in Bridesmaids; and has also appeared in 21 Jump Street, Identity Thief, and Somewhere. Kemper voiced Katie in The Secret Life of Pets and is the voice of Crackle on Disney’s Sofia the First. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and The Onion. Kemper currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and son, but is constantly trying to find a way to get back to St. Louis. My Squirrel Days is her first book.

One of Kemper's ten favorite books, as shared at Vulture.com:
White Teeth by Zadie Smith

This restless, vibrant, indelibly funny novel tackles migration, cultural identity, and the family saga with energetic good cheer. You can tell how much Smith loves her characters, and she makes me love them, too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

White Teeth is on Jeff Somers's list of five notable books set on New Year’s Eve (and Day), Michael Gibney's top ten list of restaurants and bars in modern literature, Mary Beard's six best books list, John Mullan's list of the ten most notable New Years in literature, Melissa Albert's list of five notable--and ambitious--debut novels and Nigel Williams's list of ten of the best books about suburbia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Zachary J. Lechner's "The South of the Mind"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southernness, 1960–1980 by Zachary J. Lechner.

About the book, from the publisher:
With the nation reeling from the cultural and political upheavals of the 1960s era, imaginings of the white South as a place of stability represented a bulwark against unsettling problems, from suburban blandness and empty consumerism to race riots and governmental deceit. A variety of individuals during and after the civil rights era, including writers, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, and politicians, envisioned white southernness as a manly, tradition-loving, communal, authentic—and often rural or small-town—notion that both symbolized a refuge from modern ills and contained the tools for combating them. The South of the Mind tells this story of how many Americans looked to the country’s most maligned region to save them during the 1960s and 1970s.

In this interdisciplinary work, Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies, southern history, and post–World War II American cultural and popular culture history in an effort to discern how conceptions of a tradition-bound, “timeless” South shaped Americans’ views of themselves and their society’s political and cultural fragmentations. Wide-ranging chapters detail the iconography of the white South during the civil rights movement; hippies’ fascination with white southern life; the Masculine South of George Wallace, Walking Tall, and Deliverance; the differing southern rock stylings of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd; and the healing southernness of Jimmy Carter. The South of the Mind demonstrates that we cannot hope to understand recent U.S. history without exploring how people have conceived the South, as well as what those conceptualizations have omitted.
Learn more about The South of the Mind at the University of Georgia Press website.

Writers Read: Zachary J. Lechner.

The Page 99 Test: The South of the Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Scott J. Holliday reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Scott J. Holliday, author of Machine City.

His reply begins:
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I tend to return to the stories I love so well. Shutter Island is one of those. Lehane's writing has a beautiful, lyrical quality that I enjoy and the story is such a twisted little gem that it's hard for someone like me to resist. I would recommend the book for anyone who's interested in...[read on]
About Machine City, from the publisher:
In this unputdownable thriller set in the new future, a detective enters the mind of a killer to find a missing child.

To ex-detective John Barnes, the machine is a dangerous and abhorrent addiction. The criminal thoughts it embedded in his brain helped him stop a serial killer, but they left him dazed—with pounding, murderous impulses. Having turned in his badge to salvage what’s left of his psyche, Barnes must return to the darkness at the request of his former partner. A little girl has gone missing. So has Adrian Flaherty, the detective in the kidnapper’s shadow.

And only Barnes can hear the clues.

But the trail is more dizzying and more personal than he feared. The voices are revealing a secret only Flaherty could have known. They’re also telling Barnes that he doesn’t have long to live. To find the girl, he must listen closely. Because the clock is ticking…and Barnes’s mind is going fast.
Visit Scott J. Holliday's website.

My Book, The Movie: Machine City.

The Page 69 Test: Machine City.

Writers Read: Scott J. Holliday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 16, 2018

Pg. 69: Rysa Walker's "The Delphi Revolution"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Delphi Revolution by Rysa Walker.

About the book, from the publisher:
A psychotic killer hijacked her mind and her body. She’s taking them back.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Morgan is on the run from the very government project that created her abilities. Now they seek to weaponize the gift she doesn’t want and can’t control: the invasion of her mind and her body by spirits, some of whom have their own unusual powers. Her latest “hitcher” is a former top Delphi executive. Unlike Anna’s previous guests, this one has taken over, and he’s on a personal mission of revenge.

The target is Senator Ronald Cregg, a corrupt, power-hungry presidential candidate. One of Delphi’s creators, he’s now manipulating the public into believing “psychic terrorists” are a scourge to be eliminated. There’s only one way to stop him, but Anna draws the line at murder.

Pulled into a dark conspiracy, Anna struggles to reclaim her body, mind, and soul as she and the other Delphi psychics join together to fight for their right to exist.
Visit Rysa Walker's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Delphi Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine mysteries with unexpected investigators

Erica Wright's latest crime novel The Blue Kingfisher is filled with "substance, entertainment, and chills-a-plenty" according to The Seattle Review of Books. Her debut, The Red Chameleon, was one of O, The Oprah Magazine's Best Books of Summer 2014. She is also the author of the poetry collections Instructions for Killing the Jackal and All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned. She is the poetry editor and a senior editor at Guernica Magazine as well as a former editorial board member for Alice James Books.

At CrimeReads Wright tagged nine mysteries that challenge our expectations for crime fighters, including:
Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

While this novel certainly echoes a classic Agatha Christie-style whodunnit, it is also distinctive in how it balances personal dramas with the central mystery. The perspective shifts between characters, and teenage singer Alice Hatmaker accepts the challenge of figuring out if her prodigy roommate ran away or was murdered. The events take place as a once impressive now dilapidated hotel in upstate New York. Hundreds of high school-aged musicians swarm the place for a statewide festival. Racculia takes this fun premise and exceeds expectations, telling multiple satisfying stories at once.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Bellweather Rhapsody.

My Book, The Movie: Bellweather Rhapsody.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine Reef's "Mary Shelley," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator by Catherine Reef.

The entry begins:
My Dinner with Frankenstein

On an unspecified date in the eighteenth century, on an Alpine summit overlooking a sea of ice, Victor Frankenstein encountered the intelligent creature he had built and endowed with life. This is a pivotal scene in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as the creature informs his creator (and the reader) about all that has happened to him since he ventured alone into the world.

Imagine a film built around this section of the novel but set more than two hundred years later, in 2018. A luxury resort has been built at that mountain site, complete with a four-star restaurant and vast windows that offer a stunning view of sunset on the glacier. Victor and the creature meet there for dinner.

For Victor, the encounter is a surprise. He has climbed to this mountain retreat to be alone with his feelings after the murder of his young brother William. Having anticipated his arrival, the creature has reserved a table and is waiting for Victor at the bar. Fearful of...[read on]
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

My Book, The Movie: Noah Webster.

The Page 99 Test: Florence Nightingale.

My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

The Page 99 Test: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

The Page 99 Test: Mary Shelley.

Writers Read: Catherine Reef.

My Book, The Movie: Mary Shelley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What is Catriona McPherson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Catriona McPherson, author of Go to My Grave: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I'm reading an ARC of Cathy Ace's The Wrong Boy, with a view to blurbing it on the jacket when it comes out. Getting advance copies of books from fellow writers is, on the one hand, one of the best perks of the writing life and, on the other hand, one of the most excruciating and nail-biting chances we take. What if you don't like it? Accepting a book you loathe from a person you love would put you into a horrible predicament. Thankfully, it hasn't happened to me yet. Certainly not this time: Cathy's delve into a tight-knit Welsh village, in the aftermath of a brutal crime, is a treat indeed. The village is by turns charming and claustrophobic, the secrets are...[read on]
About Go to My Grave, from the publisher:
Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna's guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.
Visit Catriona McPherson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Go to My Grave.

Writers Read: Catriona McPherson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about the First World War

Daniel Mason is a physician and author of The Piano Tuner (2002), A Far Country (2007), and The Winter Soldier ​(2018). His work has been translated into 28 languages and adapted for opera and theater. A Far Country was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Northern California Book Award. His short stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Zoetrope: All Story and Lapham’s Quarterly; in 2014 he was a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Clinical Assistant Professor in the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry, his research and teaching interests include the subjective experience of mental illness and the influence of literature, history, and culture on the practice of medicine.

One of the author's top ten novels about the First World War, as shared at the Guardian:
Regeneration by Pat Barker

The most subtle depiction of the emotional trauma of war that I have read. Far from the front, we follow the impact of the fighting, not only on the men who served, but also on the doctors who care for them. Barker’s portrayal of psychiatrist WHR Rivers shows how compassion and humanity can thrive in the complex and conflicted mind of a doctor struggling to understand his patients, as well as his own motivations and desires.
Read about another entry on the list.

Regeneration is among Elizabeth Lowry's top ten books about psychiatry, Phil Klay's top ten books about returning from war, Sarah Moss's top ten hospital novels, and Hermione Norris's six best books. The Regeneration Trilogy is on William Skidelsky's list of the 10 best historical novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Timothy Beal's "The Book of Revelation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Book of Revelation: A Biography by Timothy Beal.

About the book, from the publisher:
The life and times of the New Testament’s most mystifying and incendiary book

Few biblical books have been as revered and reviled as Revelation. Many hail it as the pinnacle of prophetic vision, the cornerstone of the biblical canon, and, for those with eyes to see, the key to understanding the past, present, and future. Others denounce it as the work of a disturbed individual whose horrific dreams of inhumane violence should never have been allowed into the Bible. Timothy Beal provides a concise cultural history of Revelation and the apocalyptic imaginations it has fueled.

Taking readers from the book’s composition amid the Christian persecutions of first-century Rome to its enduring influence today in popular culture, media, and visual art, Beal explores the often wildly contradictory lives of this sometimes horrifying, sometimes inspiring biblical vision. He shows how such figures as Augustine and Hildegard of Bingen made Revelation central to their own mystical worldviews, and how, thanks to the vivid works of art it inspired, the book remained popular even as it was denounced by later church leaders such as Martin Luther. Attributed to a mysterious prophet identified only as John, Revelation speaks with a voice unlike any other in the Bible. Beal demonstrates how the book is a multimedia constellation of stories and images that mutate and evolve as they take hold in new contexts, and how Revelation is reinvented in the hearts and minds of each new generation.

This succinct book traces how Revelation continues to inspire new diagrams of history, new fantasies of rapture, and new nightmares of being left behind.
Visit Timothy Beal's website.

Learn more about The Book of Revelation at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Book of Revelation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Pg. 69: S. L. Huang's "Zero Sum Game"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Zero Sum Game (Cas Russell, Volume 1) by S. L. Huang.

About the book, from the publisher:
A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang's Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power…

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she'll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower...until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she's involved. There’s only one problem...

She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.
Visit S. L. Huang's website.

The Page 69 Test: Zero Sum Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five SFF novels drawn from neglected histories

Ausma Zehanat Khan's books include The Bloodprint, the first book in the Khorasan Archives, and its sequel to The Black Khan. At Tor.com she tagged five sci-fi & fantasy books drawn from neglected histories, including:
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

This is an unforgettable book, the kind of book that arrives once in a generation and blazes an indelible trail, shaping everything that comes after. The scope of the history encompassed, the sheer scale of myth and legend, the precision of the author’s imagination coupled with her gift for language are necessary for a novel of such fierce originality and grandeur. The Poppy War invokes the history of 20th century China with startling boldness, an ambition distilled into the character of a poor, dark-skinned, outcast orphan who must survive in a world hostile to her existence, through sheer self-belief and grit. Rin bitterly struggles through the Nikara Empire’s exclusive military academy Sinegard, impelled by the need to become something, to have something, in a world determined to deny her. She soon discovers that she possesses the gifts of a shamanic Phoenix with the ability to determine who should live or die, in an empire faced with devastating war. The massacre at Golyn Niis parallels the Rape of Nanking (Nanjing), the costs of war made agonizingly explicit to a girl who was so recently a student. This is a coming-of-age story unlike any other, deriving from the grand canvas of a history that should be much more familiar to a Western audience.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Norman S. Poser's "The Birth of Modern Theatre," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick by Norman S. Poser.

The entry begins:
A film based on The Birth of Modern Theatre? Why not? The book has plenty of action, taking place both on and off the stage, as well as fascinating characters: love affairs and romances; bitter backstage rivalries and close friendships; audiences that consider themselves essential participants in the theatrical experience and riot when they don’t care for a play or a performer; a criminal trial over a claimed sexual assault; a zany restaurant and lecture center run by an eccentric actor; an out-of-control bigamous duchess; and much more.

So who should play the leading roles in the film? I have a few suggestions.

The most important character in the book is David Garrick, actor, playwright, and theatre manager, a man of short stature (only 5 foot 4) but with boundless energy and talent to match. He was as compelling in comedies and farces as in Shakespeare’s tragic roles. His management of the Drury Lane theatre for thirty years made it the envy of Europe. He charmed everyone: dukes and earls sought him out; his circle of friends included artists, politicians, and judges. His marriage to a Viennese dancer was a lifelong romance. My choice to play David Garrick is the versatile Dustin Hoffman.

Peg Woffington was the leading actress of her day. She was slightly taller than average, with a graceful figure, luminous eyes, and soft, full lips. The word “witchcraft” was...[read on]
Learn more about The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick.

My Book, The Movie: The Birth of Modern Theatre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Four books that changed A.S. Patrić

Australian writer AS Patrić is the author of the novels Black Rock White City, for which he won the Miles Franklin award in 2016, and Atlantic Black. His latest book is The Butcherbird Stories. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
AN IMAGINARY LIFE
David Malouf

Australian authors were so often caught up in their own geography and time it was a startling liberation to read a novella about the exile of a Roman poet – because David Malouf wasn't asking me to forget where we were from. The Australian literary experience could now engage any point of history and it would only reveal more of our own national soul. As much a religious experience for me as it was a great read.
Read about another book Patrić tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gregg L. Frazer's "God Against the Revolution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: God Against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy's Case against the American Revolution by Gregg L. Frazer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Because, it’s said, history is written by the victors, we know plenty about the Patriots’ cause in the American Revolution. But what about the perhaps one-third of the population who opposed independence? They too were Americans who loved the land they lived in, but their position is largely missing from our understanding of Revolution-era American political thought. With God against the Revolution, the first comprehensive account of the political thought of the American Loyalists, Gregg L. Frazer seeks to close this gap.

Because the Loyalists’ position was most clearly expressed by clergymen, God against the Revolution investigates the biblical, philosophical, and legal arguments articulated in Loyalist ministers’ writings, pamphlets, and sermons. The Loyalist ministers Frazer consults were not blind apologists for Great Britain; they criticized British excesses. But they challenged the Patriots claiming rights as Englishmen to be subject to English law. This is one of the many instances identified by Frazer in which the Loyalist arguments mirrored or inverted those of the Patriots, who demanded natural and English rights while denying freedom of religion, expression, and assembly, and due process of law to those with opposing views. Similarly the Loyalist ministers’ biblical arguments against revolution and in favor of subjection to authority resonate oddly with still familiar notions of Bible-invoking patriotism.

For a revolution built on demands for liberty, equality, and fairness of representation, God against the Revolution raises sobering questions—about whether the Patriots were rational, legitimate representatives of the people, working in the best interests of Americans. A critical amendment to the history of American political thought, the book also serves as a cautionary tale in the heated political atmosphere of our time.
Learn more about God Against the Revolution at the University Press of Kansas website.

The Page 99 Test: God Against the Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is R. E. Stearns reading?

Featured at Writers Read: R. E. Stearns, author of Mutiny at Vesta.

Her entry begins:
Since it’s October as I write this, I want to tell you about a couple of horror stories I recently read. The first is The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates (2015), a creepy and charming haunted house ghost story. It begins with well-loved haunted house tropes: a woman buys a decrepit old house for a bargain price, footsteps sound from where nobody should be walking, furniture wanders, cell phones are as dead as the house's former residents.

However, Coates sidesteps or inverts a lot of annoying haunted house tropes, especially ones about the living characters, and that’s what I found so fresh and exciting about this ghost story. The homebuyer, Mara, is clever, brave, and independent. As a rational thinker, she investigates the creepy goings-on cautiously, resulting in multiple suspenseful scenes that gave me goosebumps. I love the character development as she is forced to...[read on]
About Mutiny at Vesta, from the publisher:
Adda and Iridian have survived the murderous AI that tried to kill them in Barbary Station...but now they'll need all of their ingenuity to escape the evil megacorporation that wants to own them, in this second space adventure in the Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy.

Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir have escaped the murderous AI that was trapping them on Barbary Station, and earned themselves a place on Captain Sloane’s fabled pirate crew. And now that they’ve arrived at Vesta, Sloane’s home base, they can finally start making a living stealing from well-off megacorporations.

Unfortunately, the political situation has deteriorated in Captain Sloane’s absence. Adda and Iridian find themselves trapped in a contract with Oxia Corp., one of the very megacorporations they'd hoped to prey on, forced to rob and intimidate targets they'd never have chosen on their own. If they're ever going to have the independent life together that they've always wanted, they'll have to free themselves from Oxia Corp. first. Meanwhile, the inhuman allies who followed Adda and Iridian from Barbary Station have plans of their own, which may be more dangerous than the humans involved could imagine. It will take not one but five heists, and every bit of ingenuity Adda and Iridian have to escape from Oxia and find the life they’ve always dreamed of…if they can survive.
Visit R. E. Stearns's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station.

The Page 69 Test: Mutiny at Vesta.

Writers Read: R. E. Stearns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that show how Russia influences the world

Luke Harding is the author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. At the Guardian he tagged five books that reveal how Russia influences the world, including:
Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor tells the extraordinary story of Oleg Gordievsky, KGB officer and secret MI6 agent. As a member of the KGB’s London station Gordievsky was tasked with infiltrating the British establishment. The goal was to extract information from opinion-formers: politicians, journalists and others in positions of power. The KGB had a modest network of contacts and informants. Most were unaware that the charming Soviet diplomats who bought them lunch were actually KGB spies. Gordievsky’s attempts to get real intelligence were so unsuccessful that MI6 was forced to help. It gave him “chickenfeed” – real but low-grade material sent back to Moscow.

According to Macintyre, the dying USSR failed to recruit any significant British agents, but Putin’s modern espionage agencies may still try the same techniques. In autumn 2015 a Russian diplomat, Alexander Udod, invited [Arron Banks, a Brexit-backer who gave Leave.EU £8m, money that some allege came from Moscow, though Banks denies it] to meet Russia’s ambassador in London. The government subsequently expelled Udod for spying after the novichok case of Sergei Skripal.
Read about another book Harding tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 12, 2018

David Heidler & Jeanne Heidler's "The Rise of Andrew Jackson," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler.

The entry begins:
The Rise of Andrew Jackson is about Jackson’s quest for the presidency after the War of 1812 It features a large cast of characters, many of them major figures in the twelve-year political campaign that ultimately won the White House. Our preferences then are not necessarily contemporary but are guided by the aim of matching the physical characteristics of the original as closely as possible. Consequently, we’ve drawn our cast from people living and dead to include:

Andrew Jackson - Dennis Quaid
Young Rachel Jackson - a young Winona Ryder
Mature Rachel Jackson - a mature...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler's website.

My Book, The Movie: Washington’s Circle.

The Page 99 Test: Washington’s Circle.

My Book, The Movie: The Rise of Andrew Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elliott J. Gorn's "Let the People See"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till by Elliott J. Gorn.

About the book, from the publisher:
The world knows the story of young Emmett Till. In August 1955, the fourteen-year-old Chicago boy supposedly flirted with a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter of a country store, while visiting family in Mississippi. Three days later, his mangled body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a cotton-gin fan. Till's killers, Bryant's husband and his half-brother, were eventually acquitted on technicalities by an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence. It seemed another case of Southern justice.

Then details of what had happened to Till became public, which they did in part because Emmett's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted that his casket remain open during his funeral. The world saw the horror, and Till's story gripped the country and sparked outrage. Black journalists drove down to Mississippi and risked their lives interviewing townsfolk, encouraging witnesses, spiriting those in danger out of the region, and above all keeping the news cycle turning. It continues to turn. In 2005, fifty years after the murder, the FBI reopened the case. New papers and testimony have come to light, and several participants, including Till's mother, have published autobiographies. Using this new evidence and a broadened historical context, Elliott J. Gorn delves more fully than anyone has into how and why the story of Emmett Till still resonates, and always will. Till's murder marked a turning point, Gorn shows, and yet also reveals how old patterns of thought and behavior endure, and why we must look hard at them.
Learn more about Let the People See at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Let the People See.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jeff Tweedy's 6 favorite books

As the founding member and leader of the American rock band Wilco, and before that the cofounder of the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy is one of contemporary American music’s most accomplished songwriters, musicians, and performers.

His new book is Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.

One of Tweedy's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (translated by Edith Grossman)

I've sometimes told people that if they want to understand what "rock and roll" means to me, they should read Don Quixote. Which is an unbelievably obnoxious thing to say and also something I stand by. Without Sancho Panza believing in or at least humoring his "liege," the magic evaporates. It feels incredible to suspend disbelief and subscribe to the world-changing spell cast by a rock song. What's wrong with that? Lots, probably. But life would suck without it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Don Quixote was the second most popular book among prisoners at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay. It is on Ben Okri's six best books list, Bruce Wagner's six favorite books list, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of fictional best friends we'd like to have as nonfictional best friends, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best literary women dressed as men and ten of the best books written in prison.

Paul Auster always returns to Don Quixote; Claire Messud hasn't read it.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Vicki Delany's "A Scandal in Scarlet"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Scandal in Scarlet: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany.

About the book, from the publisher:
Gemma and Jayne donate their time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned out museum—but a killer wants a piece of the auction.

Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear.

Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups—a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s. Gemma’s boyfriend in blue, Ryan Ashburton, arrives on the scene with Detective Louise Estrada. But the suspect list is long, and the case far from elementary. Does Kathy’s killing have any relation to a mysterious death of seven years ago?

Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
Visit Vicki Delany's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen.

The Page 69 Test: A Scandal in Scarlet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Abbi Waxman & Daisy, Jasper, and Wilbur

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Abbi Waxman & Daisy, Jasper, and Wilbur.

The author, on how her dogs got their names:
The kids named Wilbur and Daisy, I named Jasper [photo left]. They wanted to call him Huckleberry, but I put my foot down. We call them all kinds of names, all the time; Jasperilla, Wilberto, Wilberino, Daisy D. Dog...the list...[read on]
About Abbi Waxman's novel, Other People's Houses:
The author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.

At any given moment in other people's houses, you can find...repressed hopes and dreams...moments of unexpected joy...someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband...

*record scratch*

As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors' private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton's wife is mysteriously missing, and now this...

After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that's a notion easier said than done when Anne's husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families--and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.
Visit Abbi Waxman's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Abbi Waxman & Daisy, Jasper, and Wilbur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine mysteries set immediately after WWI

J. Kingston Pierce edits The Rap Sheet, a blog focused on crime fiction, writes the book design-oriented blog Killer Covers, and is a columnist for Down & Out: The Magazine. At CrimeReads he tagged nine "crime and espionage stories whose action occurs within the first half-decade of the war’s finish," including:
The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard (2013)

It’s the spring of 1919, and 27-year-old James “Max” Maxted, previously of the Royal Flying Corps, is finally back in England following two years of service on the front and another 18 months spent in a German POW camp. Together with Sam Twentyman, his friend and erstwhile airplane engineer, he hopes to launch a flying school on his family’s ancestral estate. However, news that his diplomat father, Sir Henry Maxted, has tumbled to his death in Paris amid deliberations over what will become the Treaty of Versailles, obliges Max to delay those plans. He and his scandal-wary elder brother travel to France to retrieve their sire’s remains, but in the course of it, Max grows doubtful of police speculation that Sir Henry’s demise was a “bizarre and undignified accident” suffered while he was covertly observing his “très jolie” mistress. Despite Max’s dearth of intelligence-gathering savvy, he’s “cool-headed and courageous,” and manages (with Sam’s aid) to unearth a panoply of unsavory players—including an amoral American dealer in secrets, a seductive Russian bookshop employee, a scheming official with Britain’s Foreign Office, and a German spymaster—who might help answer questions surrounding Sir Henry’s fate. Could the diplomat’s death have had to do with the explosive contents of his safe deposit box? Dubious allegiances, the intervention of an elusive Arab boy, and a hired assassin all figure into this dramatic and atmospheric yarn—the opening installment in a trilogy.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Ways of the World.

The Page 69 Test: The Ways of the World.

--Marshal Zeringue