Friday, January 28, 2022

Five great blizzard thrillers

Heather Gudenkauf is a Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels, including The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden, Not A Sound, This Is How I Lied, and, most recently, The Overnight Guest.

[Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and MaxineCoffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & LoloMy Book, The Movie: Not A SoundThe Page 69 Test: Not A SoundThe Page 69 Test: Before She Was FoundThe Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied]

At CrimeReads Gudenkauf tagged five favorite "thrillers and mysteries where an untimely winter storm takes center stage," including:
Runner, by Tracy Clark

When I started reading Runner by Tracy Clark, it was a mild December day in the Midwest. Still, I had to pull on my warmest sweater, coziest socks and pause to brew a hot cup of tea before reading on. In her fourth Chicago-based novel featuring PI Cassandra Raines, Clark captures winter in the Windy City perfectly. And just as chilling is Raines’s current case—the search for Ramona, a fifteen-year-old runaway. Raines can’t stand the thought of a young girl out on the streets, fending for herself in subzero temperatures, and as she draws closer, she discovers something much more nefarious at play in Ramona’s disappearance. While Runner is the first novel I’ve read by the talented Clark, I will quickly dig into the rest of the series.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Runner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael W. Hankins's "Flying Camelot"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Flying Camelot: The F-15, the F-16, and the Weaponization of Fighter Pilot Nostalgia by Michael W. Hankins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Flying Camelot brings us back to the post-Vietnam era, when the US Air Force launched two new, state-of-the art fighter aircraft: the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was an era when debates about aircraft superiority went public—and these were not uncontested discussions. Michael W. Hankins delves deep into the fighter pilot culture that gave rise to both designs, showing how a small but vocal group of pilots, engineers, and analysts in the Department of Defense weaponized their own culture to affect technological development and larger political change.

The design and advancement of the F-15 and F-16 reflected this group's nostalgic desire to recapture the best of World War I air combat. Known as the "Fighter Mafia," and later growing into the media savvy political powerhouse "Reform Movement," it believed that American weapons systems were too complicated and expensive, and thus vulnerable. The group's leader was Colonel John Boyd, a contentious former fighter pilot heralded as a messianic figure by many in its ranks. He and his group advocated for a shift in focus from the multi-role interceptors the Air Force had designed in the early Cold War towards specialized air-to-air combat dogfighters. Their influence stretched beyond design and into larger politicized debates about US national security, debates that still resonate today.

A biography of fighter pilot culture and the nostalgia that drove decision-making, Flying Camelot deftly engages both popular culture and archives to animate the movement that shook the foundations of the Pentagon and Congress.
Visit Michael W. Hankins's website.

The Page 99 Test: Flying Camelot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thomas Bardenwerper's "Mona Passage"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mona Passage: A Novel by Thomas Bardenwerper.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mona Passage is the story of two neighbors in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Galán Betances, a Cuban emigrant, and Pat McAllister, a young Coast Guard officer. During long evenings spent together talking on their Calle Luna rooftop, a deep friendship develops based on shared traumas and a common desire to heal. When Galán learns that his sister, Gabriela, is going to be committed to a mental health facility in Cuba, he plans her escape to Puerto Rico. Pat, whose Coast Guard cutter patrols the Mona Passage for drug traffickers and migrants, warns Galán that such a journey will be treacherous—perhaps fatal. Aware of the dangers but determined for Gabriela to live a full life, Galán hands over all the money he has to a Dominican smuggler based out of a San Juan nightclub, and Gabriela begins her terrifying journey.

Knowing that his cutter may be all that separates Galán and Gabriela—and haunted by the human suffering he has witnessed at sea—Pat must decide. Will he remain true to his oath, as his older brother had done in Iraq? Or will he risk his own future—and perhaps his freedom—for his closest friend?

On a moonless night, two armed vessels converge in the Mona Passage, and three lives change forever.
Visit Thomas Bardenwerper's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Q&A with Thomas Bardenwerper.

The Page 69 Test: Mona Passage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Top ten novels inspired by Greek myths

Susan Stokes-Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in the historic Georgian city of Lichfield, Staffordshire. She studied for four years at Aberystwyth University, graduating with a BA in Education & English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing.

Her debut novel, Pandora, was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction prize 2020 as well as longlisted for the Bath Novel Award that same year.

At the Guardian Stokes-Chapman tagged ten books that "have interpreted the Greek myths in different ways, but they are all testament to how these ancient stories have got under our skin." One title on the list:
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes brilliantly retells the story of the Trojan war from an all-female perspective. She presents a kaleidoscopic view of the war and the women involved in a series of episodes narrated by Calliope, the Greek muse of epic poetry. A fresh take on the Iliad brimming with wit and atmosphere.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Thousand Ships is among Jennifer Saint's ten essential books inspired by Greek myth, Deanna Raybourn's six top novels based on historical scandals, and Alyssa Vaughn's forty-two books to help you get through the rest of quarantine.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Ships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joseph W. Ho's "Developing Mission"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Developing Mission: Photography, Filmmaking, and American Missionaries in Modern China by Joseph W. Ho.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Developing Mission, Joseph W. Ho offers a transnational cultural history of US and Chinese communities framed by missionary lenses through time and space—tracing the lives and afterlives of images, cameras, and visual imaginations from before the Second Sino-Japanese War through the first years of the People's Republic of China.

When American Protestant and Catholic missionaries entered interwar China, they did so with cameras in hand. Missions principally aimed at the conversion of souls and the modernization of East Asia, became, by virtue of the still and moving images recorded, quasi-anthropological ventures that shaped popular understandings of and formal foreign policy toward China. Portable photographic technologies changed the very nature of missionary experience, while images that missionaries circulated between China and the United States affected cross-cultural encounters in times of peace and war.

Ho illuminates the centrality of visual practices in the American missionary enterprise in modern China, even as intersecting modernities and changing Sino-US relations radically transformed lives behind and in front of those lenses. In doing so, Developing Mission reconstructs the almost-lost histories of transnational image makers, subjects, and viewers across twentieth-century China and the United States.
Visit Joseph W. Ho's website.

The Page 99 Test: Developing Mission.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Marty Wingate

From my Q&A with Marty Wingate, author of The Librarian Always Rings Twice:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

An agent once told me that although the book belongs to the writer, titles and covers are committee decisions. Occasionally, I have an idea for a title, but usually I let my agent or publisher (once, a reader) come up with something. The Librarian Always Rings Twice, came from the publisher, and is a reference to how often Hayley Burke, curator of the First Edition Society at Middlebank House, is interrupted and/or met with a new problem when she answers the door. If it isn’t her nemesis, Charles Henry Dill, then it’s someone claiming to be Lady Fowling’s grandson. Or perhaps the police.

What's in a name?

Sometimes, a character’s name comes to me first and then I then I learn about person. But many times...[read on]
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

The Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

Q&A with Marty Wingate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Pg. 69: Peter Mann's "The Torqued Man"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Torqued Man: A Novel by Peter Mann.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brilliant debut novel, at once teasing literary thriller and a darkly comic blend of history and invention, The Torqued Man is set in wartime Berlin and propelled by two very different but equally mesmerizing voices: a German spy handler and his Irish secret agent, neither of whom are quite what they seem.

Berlin—September, 1945
. Two manuscripts are found in rubble, each one narrating conflicting versions of the life of an Irish spy during the war.

One of them is the journal of a German military intelligence officer and an anti-Nazi cowed into silence named Adrian de Groot, charting his relationship with his agent, friend, and sometimes lover, an Irishman named Frank Pike. In De Groot’s narrative, Pike is a charismatic IRA fighter sprung from prison in Spain to assist with the planned German invasion of Britain, but who never gets the chance to consummate his deal with the devil.

Meanwhile, the other manuscript gives a very different account of the Irishman’s doings in the Reich. Assuming the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, Pike appears here as the ultimate Allied saboteur. His mission: an assassination campaign of high-ranking Nazi doctors, culminating in the killing of Hitler’s personal physician.

The two manuscripts spiral around each other, leaving only the reader to know the full truth of Pike and De Groot’s relationship, their ultimate loyalties, and their efforts to resist the fascist reality in which they are caught.
Visit Peter Mann's website.

Q&A with Peter Mann.

The Page 69 Test: The Torqued Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top adrenaline pumping YA SFF survival books

Meg Long was born and raised in Louisiana and originally wanted to be a spy. Instead she somehow found herself teaching overseas in China and Malaysia before ending up in Colorado, where it snows entirely too much. She taught middle and high school for eight years before jumping to the tech industry as a content writer. When not reading or writing, she’s kicking things at her Muay Thai gym with her boyfriend, playing video games, or obsessing over Sailor Moon fanart. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel.

At Tor.com Long tagged five favorite YA SFF books that will get your heart racing, including:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

This. Book. This book will have you on the edge of your seat (or couch)—the story will absolutely not let you go until you get to the heart-pounding conclusion. An alternate history with a sci-fi twist, Wolf by Wolf is set in a world reimagined, one where the Axis powers won WW2 and celebrate their victory with an annual motorcycle race across the German and Japanese controlled continents of Europe and Asia. Yael, a former death camp prisoner with the ability to skinshift, infiltrates this infamous race on a secret mission. Her plan? Take the place of the only female competitor and win the race so she can kill Hitler at the awards banquet in Tokyo. Not only did I finish this in one frenzied sitting, my palms were sweating from the suspense!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tara Watson & Kalee Thompson's "The Border Within"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear by Tara Watson and Kalee Thompson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening analysis of the costs and effects of immigration and immigration policy, both on American life and on new Americans.

For decades, immigration has been one of the most divisive, contentious topics in American politics. And for decades, urgent calls for its policy reform have gone mostly unanswered. As the discord surrounding the modern immigration debate has intensified, border enforcement has tightened. Crossing harsher, less porous borders makes unauthorized entry to the United States a permanent, costly undertaking. And the challenges don’t end on the other side.

At once enlightening and devastating, The Border Within examines the costs and ends of America’s interior enforcement—the policies and agencies, including ICE, aimed at removing immigrants already living in the country. Economist Tara Watson and journalist Kalee Thompson pair rigorous analysis with deeply personal stories from immigrants and their families to assess immigration’s effects on every aspect of American life, from the labor force to social welfare programs to tax revenue. What emerges is a critical, utterly complete examination of what non-native Americans bring to the country, including immigration’s tendency to elevate the wages and skills of those who are native-born.

News coverage has prompted many to question the humanity of American immigration policies; The Border Within opens a conversation of whether it is effective. The United States spends billions each year on detention and deportation, all without economic gain and at a great human cost. With depth and discipline, the authors dissect the shock-and-awe policies that make up a broken, often cruel system, while illuminating the lives caught in the chaos. It is an essential work with far-reaching implications for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.
Learn more about The Border Within at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Border Within.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jacquelyn Mitchard's "The Good Son," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Good Son: A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

The entry begins:
I’d love to have my book made into a movie (and when writers say that they just hope that Hollywood doesn’t get its hands on their wonderful story and “ruin” it, they’re generally lying and trying to sound virtuous because no one makes you take that option money … you could just not take it …).

If this story were adapted, I think of who might play the role of the main character, Thea. It’s clearer to me who would play Julie, Thea’s wonderful best friend, and that would be Julianne Moore (not because of the name). She has a sort of patrician generosity that is the hallmark of Julie’s character. For Thea, I would see...[read on]
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

My Book, the Movie: Two If by Sea.

Writers Read: Jacquelyn Mitchard (March 2016).

The Page 69 Test: Two If by Sea.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pg. 69: Caitlin Starling's "The Death of Jane Lawrence"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Bram Stoker-nominated author of The Luminous Dead comes a gothic fantasy horror--The Death of Jane Lawrence.

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.

Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.

Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Caitlin Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.
Visit Caitlin Starling's website.

Writers Read: Caitlin Starling (May 2019).

The Page 69 Test: The Luminous Dead.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Jane Lawrence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels that explore the blurry boundaries of sibling intimacy

Sara Freeman is a Montreal-born writer currently based out of Boston. She graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Fiction in 2013.

Freeman's new novel is Tides.

At Lit Hub she tagged six "novels that explore the blurry psychic boundaries of sibling intimacy," including:
Daisy Johnson, Sisters

This lyrical, gothic novel follows teenage sisters September and July as they take refuge, after an unnamed incident, in a dilapidated family house in the North York Moors. Their mother, a writer of children’s books, disappears for days at a time inside her room and the girls, only ten months apart (but merging their birthdays after September decrees it) seem to exist in a state of mind-body-meld that belies something far more disturbing than your average sibling bond. When September loses her virginity on the beach, for instance, July feels the pleasure and pain as viscerally as if it were her own. July, the younger sibling, is our narrator for the majority of the novel, and we slowly see, through her eyes, the way September, the eldest and more domineering of the two, begins to possess her, to ‘wear [her] like a coat.’ The house too, starts to ooze and engulf and terrify, until the final intoxicating reveal.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric G. Wilson's "Dream-Child"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb by Eric G. Wilson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An in-depth look into the life of Romantic essayist Charles Lamb and the legacy of his work

A pioneer of urban Romanticism, essayist Charles Lamb (1775–1834) found inspiration in London’s markets, theaters, prostitutes, and bookshops. He prized the city’s literary scene, too, where he was a star wit. He counted among his admirers Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His friends valued in his conversation what distinguished his writing style: a highly original blend of irony, whimsy, and melancholy.

Eric G. Wilson captures Lamb’s strange charm in this meticulously researched and engagingly written biography. He demonstrates how Lamb’s humor helped him cope with a life‑defining tragedy: in a fit of madness, his sister Mary murdered their mother. Arranging to care for her himself, Lamb saved her from the gallows. Delightful when sane, Mary became Charles’s muse, and she collaborated with him on children’s books. In exploring Mary’s presence in Charles’s darkly comical essays, Wilson also shows how Lamb reverberates in today’s experimental literature.
Learn more about Dream-Child at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck.

The Page 99 Test: Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ron Walters reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ron Walters, author of Deep Dive.

His entry begins:
I’ve torn through a lot of epic fantasies lately (most recently Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, which was absolutely stunning), so for my current read I decided to go with something much more contemporary and intimate but just as fantastical and amazing: Swashbucklers, by Dan Hanks. To quote the back copy: “When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him.”

Like a lot of Gen-Xers I’m a sucker for...[read on]
About Deep Dive, from the publisher:
When your reality shatters, what will you do to put it back together again?

Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters.

So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist.

As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever?
Visit Ron Walters's website.

Writers Read: Ron Walters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 24, 2022

Ten top novels inspired by true crimes

Steph Mullin is a creative director and Nicole Mabry works in the photography department for a television network. They met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Mullin relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2018, they continued to collaborate. Separated by five states, they spend hours scheming via FaceTime and editing in real time on Google Docs. The Family Tree is the duo’s first crime novel.

[ The Page 69 Test: The Family TreeMy Book, The Movie: The Family Tree]

At The Strand Magazine Mullin and Mabry tagged ten novels inspired by true crimes, including:
The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Dahlia Lighthouse, named after The Black Dahlia, is raised in a family obsessed with true crime. They live secluded from the outside world on a small island which has also been home to an infamous serial killer who’s never been caught. Because of the family’s dark interests, their home has been dubbed “Murder Mansion” by the locals. Growing up, Dahlia and her siblings were forced to honor murder victims through reenactments and celebrations of their lives. Eventually Dahlia moves away, but the roots of her upbringing stick with her. After Dahlia returns home to bury her father in the family plot on their property, the body of her long missing brother is found already in the grave. Dahlia’s family unravels in interesting and upsetting ways at the revelation. The Family Plot is beautifully atmospheric, full of interesting characters and complicated family dynamics, and of course…dripping with true crime references. This story is perfect for anyone fascinated by true crime and secrets close to home. (Inspired by many true crimes including The Black Dahlia, Charlie Manson, The Hindenburgh kidnapping and more)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Plot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter Anderson's "The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain: Taking, Losing, and Fighting for Children, 1926-1945 by Peter Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain analyses the ideas and practices that underpinned the age of mass child removal. This era emerged from growing criticisms across the world of 'dangerous' parents and the developing belief in the nineteenth century that the state could provide superior guardianship to 'unfit' parents. In the late nineteenth century, the juvenile-court movement led the way in forging a new and more efficient system of child removal that severely curtailed the previously highly protected sovereignty of guardians deemed dangerous. This transnational movement rapidly established courts across the world and used them to train the personnel and create the systems that frequently lay behind mass child removal. Spaniards formed a significant part of this transnational movement and the country's juvenile courts became involved in the three main areas of removal that characterize the age: the taking of children from poor families, from families displaced by war, and from political opponents.

The study of Spanish case files reveals much about how the removal process worked in practice across time and across democratic regimes and dictatorships. These cases also afford an insight into the rich array of child-removal practices that lay between the poles of coercion and victimhood. Accordingly, the study offers a history of some of most marginalized parents and children and recaptures their voice, agency, and experience. Peter Anderson also analyses the removal of tens of thousands of children from General Franco's political opponents, sometimes referred to as the lost children of Francoism, through the history and practice of the juvenile courts.
Learn more about The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Soraya Lane's "Under a Sky of Memories"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Under a Sky of Memories by Soraya M. Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Last Correspondent comes the powerful story of three brave women who go to war―and end up fighting for their lives.

Sicily, 1943. Three American women, all nurses in the Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, are determined to do all they can for their country. Vita is fun-loving, Dot shy and sweet-natured, and Evelyn practical and determined, but for all their differences, a life of military service pulls the three together as firm friends.

When they’re selected for a daring mission, the women are proud to play their part. But disaster strikes when their plane crash-lands behind enemy lines in occupied Albania. Together with twenty-three other medics, they find themselves trapped, cut off from all communication with the squadron, and in terrifying and unimaginable danger.

As days and nights pass without hope of rescue, the group must travel on foot across unfamiliar terrain thick with Nazis and their violent local allies. Can Evelyn, Vita, and Dot survive the perilous journey through enemy territory―and finally find their way home?
Visit Soraya Lane's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spitfire Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Spitfire Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets We Left Behind.

Q&A with Soraya M. Lane.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Sky of Memories.

Writers Read: Soraya M. Lane.

The Page 69 Test: Under a Sky of Memories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Q&A with Peter Mann

From my Q&A with Peter Mann, author of The Torqued Man: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Torqued Man might seem an enigmatic title at first blush, but readers soon discover it speaks to the predicament of both main characters in terms of their conflicted identities and convoluted allegiances.

German spy handler Adrian de Groot is a closeted gay man living in Hitler’s Germany as well as a literary translator and anti-Nazi who finds himself working for the Reich. For these reasons, his Irish charge Frank Pike refers to him as The Torqued Man: “pulled one way by inclination, and another by propriety... with merchant’s blood but literature in his heart, he had become a reluctant middleman for book-burners.”

Yet Irish spy Frank Pike is similarly torqued. An Irish socialist recruited to collaborate with the Nazis, he must untangle himself through a secret redemptive mission aimed at bringing down Hitler’s empire. To do this, he adopts the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, who, when the battle frenzy is upon him, undergoes...[read on]
Visit Peter Mann's website.

Q&A with Peter Mann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top mysteries with southern swampy settings

Stacy Willingham, worked as a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies before deciding to write fiction full time. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Her new novel is A Flicker in the Dark.

At CrimeReads Willingham tagged eight mysteries that feature Southern settings, including:
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

While there are no literal swamps in Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, this book deserves a place on the list for a multitude of reasons. Caren Gray manages operations on Belle Vie, a Louisiana plantation where her own ancestors once worked cutting cane. Within the first few pages, a dead body is found on the plantation grounds, juxtaposing a modern day crime with one that occurred decades earlier. This story is so much more than a mystery: it’s an honest exploration of politics, race relations and the complexities of the American South’s shameful history, all while drawing parallels to the modern-day experience many still face today. It is an at-times heart-wrenching but important read.
Read about another mystery on the list.

The Cutting Season is among Karen Dietrich's eight top red herrings in contemporary crime literature, T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring housebound terrors and Wil Medearis's seven favorite novels that explore real estate swindles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Zeynep Pamuk's "Politics and Expertise"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Politics and Expertise: How to Use Science in a Democratic Society by Zeynep Pamuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our ability to act on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from pandemics and climate change to artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons, depends on knowledge provided by scientists and other experts. Meanwhile, contemporary political life is increasingly characterized by problematic responses to expertise, with denials of science on the one hand and complaints about the ignorance of the citizenry on the other.

Politics and Expertise offers a new model for the relationship between science and democracy, rooted in the ways in which scientific knowledge and the political context of its use are imperfect. Zeynep Pamuk starts from the fact that science is uncertain, incomplete, and contested, and shows how scientists’ judgments about what is significant and useful shape the agenda and framing of political decisions. The challenge, Pamuk argues, is to ensure that democracies can expose and contest the assumptions and omissions of scientists, instead of choosing between wholesale acceptance or rejection of expertise. To this end, she argues for institutions that support scientific dissent, proposes an adversarial “science court” to facilitate the public scrutiny of science, reimagines structures for funding scientific research, and provocatively suggests restricting research into dangerous new technologies.

Through rigorous philosophical analysis and fascinating examples, Politics and Expertise moves the conversation beyond the dichotomy between technocracy and populism and develops a better answer for how to govern and use science democratically.
Learn more about Politics and Expertise at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Politics and Expertise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Pg. 69: Marty Wingate's "The Librarian Always Rings Twice"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice by Marty Wingate.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a mysterious stranger turns up making claims that threaten Lady Fowling’s legacy, Hayley Burke must dig deep into her late-benefactor’s history to uncover the truth and catch a conniving killer in this new mystery from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

It has been nearly a year since I took up my position as curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s collection of Golden Age of Mystery writers’ first editions at her library in Middlebank House. I have learned that I need to take the good with the bad. The good: I have finally convinced Mrs. Woolgar to open up the collection to the public one day a week so that they too can share in Lady Fowling’s passion. The bad: although he would not be my first, or even tenth, choice, at the insistence of the board Charles Henry Dill, Lady Fowling’s unscrupulous nephew, is now my personal assistant.

On one of our first days open to the public, Mr. John Aubrey shows up at Middlebank House and insists that Lady Georgiana Fowling is his grandmother. Mrs. Woolgar is scandalized by his claims, and Charles Henry, who feels he has been cheated out of his rightful inheritance as Lady Fowling’s heir, is furious. I do not know that I believe Mr. Aubrey, yet he has knowledge of Lady Fowling’s life and writings that few possess. To further complicate matters, an associate of Mr. Aubrey’s intends to help us uncover the truth of John’s story. But before he can do that, he is murdered and the police have reason to suspect Charles Henry.

As much as I would like to lock up Charles Henry and throw away the key, I cannot believe he is a killer. And I also know there is something dead wrong about Mr. Aubrey’s tales regarding his “grandmother” Lady Fowling. I will need to make sense of her past in order to suss out the true villain of this story.
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

The Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top haunting postapocalyptic novels

Jessie Greengrass spent her childhood in London and Devon. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and now lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, with her partner and children. Her collection of short stories, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, won the Edge Hill Prize and Somerset Maugham Award. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Sight, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The High House is her most recent novel.

At Publishers Weekly Greengrass tagged nine haunting postapocalyptic novels, including:
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

I can think of few writers as capable as Chiang of exploring both the practical and emotional implications of a hypothesis. His stories are fully fleshed-out, beautifully rendered thought experiments in the ethics of technology, deeply perceptive and empathetic. In The Lifecycle of Software Objects he reminds us that not all apocalypses are human ones. A company creates a marketable line of intelligent virtual pets. Their owners are invited to raise them, socialise them, teach them to speak; but eventually the pets are superseded by newer models, and then by other forms of entertainment all together. At last, the platform they run on, now obsolete, is due to be turned off. A haunting parable of humanity’s lack of compassion for what no longer interests us.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 21, 2022

Q&A with Barbara Nickless

From my Q&A with Barbara Nickless, author of At First Light (Dr. Evan Wilding, Book 1):
What's in a name?

I wish I could explain how Dr. Evan Wilding’s name crawled out of the primordial soup of my subconscious brain and presented itself to me. But, alas, that answer lies twenty years in the past (if, in fact, it lies anywhere at all). I created the character of Evan at a writer’s boot camp as part of a writing exercise. The character appeared as a man in full in the middle of the night—his dwarfism, his interest in language, his intelligence, his police work. And his name.

The name given by the media to the serial killer in At First Light also popped up without much thought. What else do you call a murderer who, after torturing and slaying his victims, leaves them with poems styled after the Old English poets and written in futhorc—the Viking runes used in England during the Viking Age?

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would...[read on]
Visit Barbara Nickless's website.

The Page 69 Test: At First Light.

Q&A with Barbara Nickless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas Heise's "The Gentrification Plot"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Gentrification Plot: New York and the Postindustrial Crime Novel by Thomas Heise.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, crime novelists have set their stories in New York City, a place long famed for decay, danger, and intrigue. What happens when the mean streets of the city are no longer quite so mean? In the wake of an unprecedented drop in crime in the 1990s and the real-estate development boom in the early 2000s, a new suspect is on the scene: gentrification.

Thomas Heise identifies and investigates the emerging “gentrification plot” in contemporary crime fiction. He considers recent novels that depict the sweeping transformations of five iconic neighborhoods—the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Red Hook, Harlem, and Bedford-Stuyvesant—that have been central to African American, Latinx, immigrant, and blue-collar life in the city. Heise reads works by Richard Price, Henry Chang, Gabriel Cohen, Reggie Nadelson, Ivy Pochoda, Grace Edwards, Ernesto Quiñonez, Wil Medearis, and Brian Platzer, tracking their representations of “broken-windows” policing, cultural erasure, racial conflict, class grievance, and displacement. Placing their novels in conversation with oral histories, urban planning, and policing theory, he explores crime fiction’s contradictory and ambivalent portrayals of the postindustrial city’s dizzying metamorphoses while underscoring the material conditions of the genre. A timely and powerful book, The Gentrification Plot reveals how today’s crime writers narrate the death—or murder—of a place and a way of life.
Visit Thomas Heise's website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Gentrification Plot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twelve top thrillers in a vacation setting

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years.

She is the author of The Perfect Girlfriend , The Last Wife, and the newly released The Ex-Husband.

At CrimeReads Hamilton tagged twelve thrillers in "the proud literary tradition of horrible deaths occurring on vacation." One title on the list:
He Started It by Samantha Downing

Speaking of deadly secrets, another book I loved was He Started It. Instead of a paradise setting, it’s set on a road trip which conjures up (for me) images of freedom and endless possibilities. This road trip is obviously not like that. Stuck in a car for hours with siblings and partners, the group stay in motels along the route, all the while secrets from the past unravel. It soon becomes clear that this trip is anything but a vacation. I loved the claustrophobia of this novel, the sense of something which could be so fun and fulfilling, spiraling into something dark and tragic.
Read about another entry on the list.

He Started It is among Megan Collins's eight thrillers featuring dysfunctional families and Hannah Mary McKinnon's ten top psychological thrillers featuring sibling rivalry.

The Page 69 Test: He Started It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Marty Wingate's "The Librarian Always Rings Twice," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice by Marty Wingate.

The entry begins:
Dream casting is a lively subject among authors. Who would I want to play Hayley Burke, curator of the First Edition library in The Librarian Always Rings Twice? I’ll pick Jo Joyner. Currently, Joyner plays Lu Shakespeare in the comedy-mystery television series Shakespeare and Hathaway (set in Stratford-upon-Avon). Joyner has not only the look, but also that sense of dedication to the job. Shakespeare is a former hairdresser now amateur sleuth along with her partner Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton).

It’s just occurred to me that Benton might be the perfect Charles Henry Dill, Hayley’s nemesis in my book. Dill is the lout of a nephew of the late Lady Fowling. It is her collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery that form the First Edition library and in whose home, Middlebank House, it resides. Although Joyner’s Shakespeare has elements of Hayley, Benton’s Hathaway is a good guy quite unlike Dill, who finds himself embroiled in the murder.

The question “Who would direct The Librarian Always Rings Twice?” had...[read on]
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about US presidents

Claude A. Clegg III is the Lyle V. Jones Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad and Troubled Ground: A Tale of Murder, Lynching, and Reckoning in the New South.

Clegg's newest book is The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama.

At the Guardian he tagged "a mix of biographies, memoirs and reportage which, taken together, represent some of the best writings by and about the small group of powerful people who have occupied the White House." One title on the list:
Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 by William Leuchtenburg (1963)

Dated, frayed, and surpassed by newer research and more eloquent storytellers, Leuchtenburg’s volume on the first two presidential terms of Franklin Roosevelt still stands the test of time as a scholarly, well-researched, and jargon-free narration of arguably the most consequential presidency of the 20th century. It is the tale of the rise of the liberal welfare state against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the gathering clouds of world war. Leuchtenburg tells the story well and sets the standard for future researchers.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher Leonard's "The Lords of Easy Money"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy by Christopher Leonard.

About the book, from the publisher:
The New York Times bestselling business journalist Christopher Leonard infiltrates one of America’s most mysterious institutions—the Federal Reserve—to show how its policies over the past ten years have accelerated income inequality and put our country’s economic stability at risk.

If you asked most people what forces led to today’s unprecedented income inequality and financial crashes, no one would say the Federal Reserve. For most of its history, the Fed has enjoyed the fawning adoration of the press. When the economy grew, it was credited to the Fed. When the economy imploded in 2008, the Fed got credit for rescuing us.

But the Fed also has a unique power to reshape the American economy for the worse, which it did, fatefully, on November 4, 2010 through a radical intervention called quantitative easing. In just a few short years, the Fed more than quadrupled the money supply with one goal: to encourage banks and other investors to extend more risky debt. Leaders at the Fed knew that they were undertaking a bold experiment that would produce few real jobs, with long-term risks that were hard to measure. But the Fed proceeded anyway...and then found itself trapped. Once it printed all that money, there was no way to withdraw it from circulation. The Fed tried several times, only to see market start to crash, at which point the Fed turned the money spigot back on. That’s what it did when COVID hit, printing 300 years’ worth of money in two short months.

Which brings us to now: Ten years on, the gap between the rich and poor has grown dramatically, stock prices are trading far above what’s justified by actual corporate profits, corporate debt in America is at an all-time high, and this debt is being traded by big banks on Wall Street, leaving them vulnerable—just as they were during the mortgage boom. Middle-class wages have barely budged in a decade, and consumers are buried under credit card debt, car loan debt, and student debt.

The Lords of Easy Money tells the shocking, riveting tale of how quantitative easing is imperiling the American economy through the story of the one man who tried to warn us. This will be the first inside story of how we really got here—and why we face a frightening future.
Visit Christopher Leonard's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Meat Racket.

The Page 99 Test: The Lords of Easy Money.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Barbara Nickless's "At First Light"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: At First Light (Dr. Evan Wilding, Book 1) by Barbara Nickless.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer. In this heart-stopping novel by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Sydney Rose Parnell series, words can kill.

On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?

Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.

As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out.
Visit Barbara Nickless's website.

The Page 69 Test: At First Light.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard

From my Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Good Son: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

It should do a great deal of work but I don’t think that the title does that work, in this case, with The Good Son. That title is controversial, both for me and others, because it’s been “inhabited,” as they say, so many times, most famously for a movie with Macaulay Culkin as a child. It’s meant to be ironic or at least ambivalent for my book, but it was not the title I would have chosen as I tend to want more lyrical titles. Indeed, if the title of my first and best-known novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, had been as literal as this one is, it would have been something like Yikes, My Son was Kidnapped and Now Here He is! Or You Can’t Go Home Again, They Moved. In any case, I didn’t think the world needed another book called The Good Son (or The Good Daughter).

What's in a name?

I’m very, very picky about character names, and while I’m not like Dickens with Mrs. Gradgrind or Martin Chuzzlewit, I do want the name to comprise some essence of the character. In this story, the main character, Thea, even discusses with her best friend what her name means (it means “gift of God” in Greek). The name of the son is Stefan, which means “victorious,” or, in Greek, “garland,” and in the second meaning, referred to his love for plants and botany and also his eventual triumph. The name also has to “sound” like the character: For example, Stefan’s father is a football coach, and though his real name is John Paul, he’s called “Jep,” which I think of as...[read on]
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

My Book, the Movie: Two If by Sea.

Writers Read: Jacquelyn Mitchard (March 2016).

The Page 69 Test: Two If by Sea.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Juergensmeyer's "When God Stops Fighting"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends by Mark Juergensmeyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
A gripping study of how religiously motivated violence and militant movements end, from the perspectives of those most deeply involved.

Mark Juergensmeyer is arguably the globe’s leading expert on religious violence, and for decades his books have helped us understand the worlds and worldviews of those who take up arms in the name of their faith. But even the most violent of movements, characterized by grand religious visions of holy warfare, eventually come to an end. Juergensmeyer takes readers into the minds of religiously motivated militants associated with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, the Sikh Khalistan movement in India’s Punjab, and the Moro movement for a Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines to understand what leads to drastic changes in the attitudes of those once devoted to all-out ideological war. When God Stops Fighting reveals how the transformation of religious violence manifests for those who once promoted it as the only answer.
Visit Mark Juergensmeyer's website.

The Page 99 Test: Buddhist Warfare by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer.

The Page 99 Test: When God Stops Fighting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books about navigating a post-pandemic world

Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the novels How High We Go in the Dark and Girl Zero, and the story collection, Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven novels which
deal with a world changing event (a viral pandemic or something just as significant), but for all the background nods to cataclysm, these wildly inventive and deeply affecting stories ultimately focus on what it means to be human, what it means to be part of a community and the world at large.
One title on the list:
The Companions by Katie Flynn

Although there is a pandemic in this novel, the virus that has decimated large segments of the populace takes a backseat to the technological wonder of uploading your consciousness into artificial companions (everything from very robotic-like contraptions to models that could potentially replace you). The primary thread of the novel focuses on the companion, Lilac, as she ventures to find out who killed her in her real/original life. We soon meet other primary POV characters that help both Lilac and the worldbuilding of this future. As the pandemic subsides, questions of mortality are understandably present but the technology also raises questions about the fundamental nature of identity/self and humanity. Readers who liked Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun should check this out.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Companions is among Michael J. Seidlinger's twelve underrated pandemic books.

The Page 69 Test: The Companions.

--Marshal Zeringue