Friday, June 30, 2023

Five thrillers in which the setting becomes a pivotal character

Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. A graduate of McGill in History and Law, Catherine practiced law for twenty years before leaving the practice to write full time. An avid runner, skier and tennis player, she’s the author of numerous bestsellers including Hidden, Fractured, The Good Liar and I’ll Never Tell. Her works have been translated into multiple languages and Please Join Us and I’ll Never Tell have all been optioned for development into television series.

[My Book, The Movie: You Can't Catch Me; The Page 69 Test: You Can't Catch Me; The Page 69 Test: Hidden; My Book, The Movie: Hidden; The Page 69 Test: Spin ; My Book, The Movie: Spin]

McKenzie's new novel is Have You Seen Her.

At CrimeReads she tagged five thrillers where the setting becomes a pivotal character, including:
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

Setting: An isolated farmhouse in a snowstorm

Sounds like a great place to write a book, right? That’s what author Wylie Lark thinks—that is until she discovers a small child outside in the raging storm. Oh, and did I mention that two people were murdered in the house twenty years ago? Is the house haunted or is that just Wylie’s imagination, fueled by the storm that’s battering the house and cutting them off from civilization?

For anyone who grew up where winter storms can rage, you know how isolating they can make you feel. When you can’t see the hand in front of your face or hear anything through the howling wind… It might seem cozy by that fire, but anything could be happening outside and you wouldn’t know it until it was too late.

Gudenkauf knits her story into the storm and the storm into the story perfectly so you can feel the bite of the cold and the slap of the storm.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Overnight Guest is among Lisa Unger's best (or worst!) books to read in a secluded cabin in the woods and Deborah E. Kennedy's seven top mysteries set in the Midwestern winter.

The Page 69 Test: The Overnight Guest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Cross's "Company Politics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Company Politics: Commerce, Scandal, and French Visions of Indian Empire in the Revolutionary Era by Elizabeth Cross.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the wake of the Seven Years' War and the consolidation of British power on the subcontinent, the French monarchy chartered a new East India Company. The Nouvelle Compagnie des Indes was an attempt to maintain French diplomatic and financial credit among European rivals and trading partners within a region integral to the broader imperial economy. Reimagining French power as subsisting through an informal empire of trade, instead of a territorial empire of conquest, officials and intellectuals sought to remake the trading company as a private, "purely commercial" actor, rather than a sovereign company-state.

Company Politics offers a new interpretation of political economy, imperialism, and the history of the corporation during the late Old Regime and the French Revolution. Despite its reputation for speculation, corruption, and scandal, Elizabeth Cross argues that the "New Company" emerged from the unique circumstances France faced in India as a weakened imperial power vis à vis the expanding British East India Company. Seeking to control the Company for their own purposes, French government officials, theorists, and private financial actors clashed over differing notions of political economy, debt, and imperial power for Europe and the Indian Ocean world. In doing so, they envisioned new alignments between state and market, challenged the legitimacy of the Old Regime's economic and imperial policies, and sought to revolutionize the underlying corporation itself through progressive demands of corporate self-governance. Thus, the New Company should be seen as an innovative capitalist actor in its own right, not a mere derivative of its Anglo-Dutch competitors.

A valuable contribution to scholarship on capitalism, empire, and globalization, Company Politics uses the Company's history to present the Revolutionary Era as one of dynamic economic ideologies, practices, and experimentation, rather than only one of crisis and decline.
Follow Elizabeth Cross on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Company Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Linda Kao

From my Q&A with Linda Kao, author of A Crooked Mark:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think it does a lot! It’s an immediate hint that this story is going to be dark and suspenseful, and the very first line of the book confirms it: “I don’t know how it feels when the Devil scratches a soul.” The title came to me early on, and it stayed throughout the first draft to the final version. I especially like how it gains meaning as the story progresses and the questions and consequences surrounding the Mark become clear.

What's in a name?

I chose “Matthew Watts” for my main character’s name because...[read on]
Visit Linda Kao's website.

Q&A with Linda Kao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Top ten summer love stories

David M. Barnett's novels include Calling Major Tom and The Handover (US title: Same Time, Same Place).

His new novel is There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. "Though a slow-burner set over 10 years," he writes, "the pivotal action takes place during the summer months."

At the Guardian Barnett tagged ten favorite sizzling summer love stories, including:
One Day by David Nicholls (2009)

St Swithin’s Day could arguably be said to be the very heart of summer, a pin stuck right in the middle of July. It is on this day that Emma and Dexter first spend the night together, in 1988, after university graduation. Nicholls uses the device of taking the reader to visit them ever year on the same day, 15 July, for two decades, as they move from friends to lovers. It is like a series of Polaroids, collecting snapshots of their changing lives, as Nicholls builds to a conclusion that leaves nary a dry eye in the house.
Read about another entry on the list.

One Day is among Euan Ferguson's ten best fictional hangovers in print, film and song.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael Laver's "The Dutch East India Company in Early Modern Japan"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Dutch East India Company in Early Modern Japan: Gift Giving and Diplomacy by Michael Laver.

About the book, from the publisher:
Michael Laver examines how the giving of exotic gifts in early modern Japan facilitated Dutch trade by ascribing legitimacy to the shogunal government and by playing into the shogun's desire to create a worldview centered on a Japanese tributary state. The book reveals how formal and informal gift exchange also created a smooth working relationship between the Dutch and the Japanese bureaucracy, allowing the politically charged issue of foreign trade to proceed relatively uninterrupted for over two centuries.

Based mainly on Dutch diaries and official Dutch East India Company records, as well as exhaustive secondary research conducted in Dutch, English, and Japanese, this new study fills an important gap in our knowledge of European-Japanese relations. It will also be of great interest to anyone studying the history of material culture and cross-cultural relations in a global context.
Learn more about The Dutch East India Company in Early Modern Japan at the Bloomsbury Academic website.

The Page 99 Test: The Dutch East India Company in Early Modern Japan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kate Robards's "The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard: A Thriller by Kate Robards.

About the book, from the publisher:
A missing child, a small town’s secrets, and a desperate killer set the stage for a darkly wrought debut novel that will haunt readers long after the last page. Perfect for fans of Julia Heaberlin and Chevy Stevens.

It’s not that they’ve been all that close in the past few years, but sisters Willa and Sawyer Stannard are bonded by the ups and downs of the life they’ve lived with their mercurial single mother. When Willa is found dead in her apartment from an apparent suicide, Sawyer just knows it’s not possible. A cryptic note from the acclaimed broadcast journalist leads police to rule out foul play. Shattered by grief—and obsessed by the idea that her sister’s death was not a suicide—Sawyer plunges into a search for the truth.

When Sawyer learns that Willa was writing an explosive true crime book about the decades-old disappearance of a toddler that rocked a small town hundreds of miles away, she’s even more convinced that Willa’s death is suspicious. Believing it is somehow connected to the research Willa was doing for the book, Sawyer begins to trace her sister’s steps, deep into a community she can’t begin to understand and to a truth that could destroy her as easily as it did Willa.

As she masterfully ratchets up the suspense, Robards never loosens her grip in a debut novel sure to keep readers guessing—and talking.
Visit Kate Robards's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard.

The Page 69 Test: The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Seven books about gripping family secrets

Thao Thai is a writer living in Ohio with her husband and daughter. Her work engages with tangled family relationships and the intersections of motherhood and identity. She’s been published in Cup of Jo, Eater, Catapult, Sunday Long Read, and more. A recipient of the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, she has also been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and earned fellowships in creative writing. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University and her MA from The University of Chicago.

Thai's debut novel is Banyan Moon.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books "that explore the dark spaces between families—all that’s unsaid." One title on the list:
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

In 2016, on a whim, reporter Shapiro sends in a sample of her DNA to a genealogy website. To her shock, she discovers that the man who raised her isn’t, in fact, her biological father. Deeply unsettled by this revelation, she grapples with questions about what her parents chose to hide from her, and why. With the help of her husband (also a reporter), Shapiro follows a series of winding threads that take her across the country, where she must navigate the impacts of science, technology, and record-keeping on her own life. In the end, she must determine what constitutes identity, and the extent to which we’ll go to open the closed doors of the past.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ken Dark's "Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth by Ken Dark.

About the book, from the publisher:
Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth is the first book on the archaeology of first-century Nazareth: Jesus' hometown in Galilee. Requiring no previous knowledge of biblical history or archaeology, it outlines the latest archaeological evidence, placing the Gospels' account of Jesus' youth in the Bible, and origins of Christian pilgrimage, in a new context.

The book concentrates on the fascinating Sisters of Nazareth site in the centre of the present city. There, twenty-first century archaeological research identified a Byzantine pilgrimage church, which is likely to be the Church of the Nutrition - dedicated to the upbringing of Christ - the most important previously 'lost' early Christian church in the Holy Land. A seventh-century pilgrim said that a vaulted area under the Church of the Nutrition contained the actual house where Jesus was brought up by Mary and Joseph. Intriguingly, below the Byzantine church at the Sisters of Nazareth site a vaulted area preserved what are probably the ruins of a first-century house. Even before the Byzantine church was built, a - probably fourth-century - cave-church was constructed next to the first-century ruins, suggesting that they were assigned Christian religious importance. The similarities with the pilgrim's description raise the question of whether the Sisters of Nazareth house really could have been the childhood home of Jesus. The book draws to its conclusion by means of a discussion of this historical existence for Jesus and the implications of the archaeology of Nazareth for understanding the Gospels.
Learn more about Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with C. M. Alongi

From my Q&A with C. M. Alongi, author of Citadel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Citadel is the name of the city, the only human city on the alien planet Edalide. The actual definition of a citadel is that of a protective fortress, and the people living here are in a constant state of war—both for their lives and for their souls (or, so they’re told).

I’ll be frank: I’m not good with titles. Earlier drafts had titles like Predators and Demons—demons being what the humans call their alien counterparts and “Predators” being what they actually preferred in those earlier drafts. And there was that whole unsubtle “humanity is the real predator and demon” layer to it.

What's in a name?

This is a futuristic sci-fi, so these characters are descended from our society from over four hundred years, closer to five. But they’re also very religious. The first people…[read on]
Visit C. M. Alongi's website.

The Page 69 Test: Citadel.

Q&A with C. M. Alongi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Top ten Prohibition-era books

Katharine Schellman is a former actor and one-time political consultant. When not writing about mystery, history, and other improbable things, she can be found in her garden or finding new ways to skip steps while baking.

Schellman currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering. Her books include Last Call at the Nightingale and The Last Drop of Hemlock.

At The Strand Magazine Schellman tagged ten top Prohibition-era books, including:
Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo

After World War I, Paris became an enclave of artists, home to writers and artists like Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Cole Porter, and Sylvia Beach. But while bohemian Paris was full of inspiration, it also was grounded in the heartache and trauma of the post-World War I generation.

In Joe Okonkwo’s Jazz Moon, a poet and a trumpet player meet on a hot summer day in Harlem and, after striking up a friendship, decide to join the many Black artists moving to Paris. They’re hoping to escape the pervasive racism of their home country, but they find that the Jazz Age can be as decadent, seedy, and bittersweet in Paris as it is in New York City.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Meg Russell and Lisa James's "The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit by Meg Russell and Lisa James.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Parliamentary Battle Over Brexit provides answers to those who want to understand the bitter arguments that occurred over Brexit, what might have been handled better, and the role that parliament played.

Since the 2016 referendum, the hotly contested issue of Brexit has raised fundamental questions about the workings of British democracy. Nowhere was this more true than regarding the role of parliament. This book addresses important questions about parliament's role in the UK constitution, and the impact on this of the Brexit process. While initially intended to re-establish 'parliamentary sovereignty', Brexit wrought significant damage on the reputation of parliament, and the wider culture of UK democracy.

Charting the full story of the parliamentary battle over Brexit, Meg Russell and Lisa James show that it wasn't always what it seemed. Based on careful documentary research and extensive interviews with key protagonists, the book explores multiple nail-biting moments, procedural innovations, and political 'what if's'. Drawing on insider accounts, alongside media and parliamentary debates, the book puts the events of Brexit into context and provides a clear and reliable document of record on a complex and disputed story. Ultimately, it argues that Brexit was largely a battle inside the Conservative Party, for which parliament got the blame.

Insightful and comprehensive, the book is necessary reading to those with broader interests in British Politics, the culture of UK democracy, and the challenges of populism and democratic 'backsliding'.
Learn more about The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Housewright's "In a Hard Wind"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: In a Hard Wind: A McKenzie Novel (Twin Cities P.I. Mac McKenzie Novels, 20) by David Housewright.

About the book, from the publisher:
When asked to investigate a murder in a seemingly idyllic Minnesota town, Rushmore McKenzie finds that all the evidence points directly at his client, in the next installment in David Housewright's McKenzie novels, In a Hard Wind
Learn more about the book and author at David Housewright's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Kind Word.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Kind Word.

The Page 69 Test: Stealing the Countess.

The Page 69 Test: What the Dead Leave Behind.

The Page 69 Test: First, Kill the Lawyers.

Writers Read: David Housewright (January 2019).

The Page 69 Test: In a Hard Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 26, 2023

Pg. 99: Patti Tamara Lenard's "Democracy and Exclusion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Democracy and Exclusion by Patti Tamara Lenard.

About the book, from the publisher:
As people become more mobile around the world, the nature of citizenship, and all its attendant rights, has become the object of intense scrutiny. And, as we know, democracies forcefully and coercively exclude those whom they believe do not belong on their territory or among their constituency.

In Democracy and Exclusion, Patti Tamara Lenard looks at how and when democracies exclude both citizens and noncitizens from territory and from membership to determine if and when there are instances when such exclusion is justified. To make her case, Lenard draws on the all-subjected principle, or the idea that all those who are the subject of law--that is, those who are required to abide by the law and who are subject to coercion if they do not do so voluntarily--should have a say in what the law is. If we assess who is subjected to the power of a state at any particular moment, and especially over time, we can see who ought to be treated as a member and therefore be granted citizenship or the right to stay.

With an in-depth look at instances in which democratic states have expanded or adopted policies that permit the exclusion of citizens--including denationalization, stateless peoples, labor migrants, returning foreign fighters, and LGBTQ+ refugee resettlement--Lenard argues that admission to territory and membership is either favored by, or required by, democratic justice. Democracy and Exclusion makes a powerful case that subjection to the power of a state, without proper protection from exclusion, is a violation of democratic principle.
Learn more about Democracy and Exclusion at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Democracy and Exclusion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five thrillers unfolding in wooded seclusion

Kate Robards holds a degree in journalism and works in communications at a nonprofit organization. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and children.

Her new novel is The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard.

[My Book, The Movie: The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard]

At CrimeReads Stannard tagged "five thrillers that use a secluded, wooded setting to lead you into dark tales," including:
In the Woods by Tana French

In the summer of 1984, three children don’t return home from the dark and silent woods bordering their neighborhood. Police find only one child, gripping a tree trunk in terror, unable to remember any details of the previous hours. Twenty years later, that same boy is a detective who finds himself investigating the murder of a young girl found in the woods – a case eerily similar to the one haunting his past.

In this small Dublin town, the woods tie together the past and present, and the setting adds to the moody, shivery darkness of IN THE WOODS.
Read about another entry on the list.

In the Woods is among Paula Hawkins's five novels with criminal acts at their heart, Alafair Burke's top ten books about amnesia, Caz Frear's five top open-ended novels, Gabriel Bergmoser's top ten horror novels, Kate White's favorite thrillers with a main character who can’t remember what matters most, Kathleen Donohoe's ten top titles about missing persons, Jessica Knoll's ten top thrillers, Tara Sonin's twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day, Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Q&A with Katherine Lin

From my Q&A with Katherine Lin, author of You Can't Stay Here Forever:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My agent and I went through tons of iterations of titles, and polled lots of friends and colleagues. In one brainstorming email, I threw out You Can't Stay Here Forever as a possibility–it was a line that one character in my book, Fauna, says to Ellie, the protagonist, near the climax of the novel. I thought it captured Ellie's journey: the yearn to run away in tension with the fact that everyone has to face their demons eventually. My agent took to You Can't Stay Here Forever and, happily, Harper Books liked it as well. The line was eventually cut from the book, but I am glad it got us the title.

What's in a name?

I am...[read on]
Visit Katherine Lin's website.

The Page 69 Test: You Can't Stay Here Forever.

Q&A with Katherine Lin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jen Wheeler's "The Light on Farallon Island"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Light on Farallon Island: A Novel by Jen Wheeler.

About the book, from the publisher:
From debut author Jen Wheeler comes a spellbinding tale about the dangers a nineteenth-century woman encounters as she flees a tragic past to the menacing Farallon Islands.

Thirty miles off the coast of San Francisco lie the Farallon Islands, known to sailors as the Devil’s Teeth. Despite their fearsome reputation, their remote nature appeals to young Lucy Riley, who in 1859 seeks a new start as a teacher to the lighthouse keepers’ children.

But Lucy brings treacherous secrets with her, including a name that isn’t hers and a past she can’t escape. On the island, she meets Will Sisson, a mysterious man who seems to recognize her name―but not her face. Wary of Will at first, Lucy slowly starts to trust him.

As Lucy embeds herself in the island’s community, she discovers numerous dangers: deadly cliffs, shark-infested waters, and disorienting fogs. A dark presence of another sort, too, disguises an encroaching threat.

In this forbidding place, Lucy must find the courage to confront the perils of her past and the ever-present dangers of the world around her for the new life she’s sought to finally begin.
Visit Jen Wheeler's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Light on Farallon Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twelve books for fans of HBO’s "Succession"

At Gina Chen tagged twelve books for fans of HBO’s Succession, including:
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

As deeply researched as any of the reported books on this list — Lee spent three decades poring over historical texts, interviewing sources, and even moving to Japan — Pachinko is the fictional saga of a multigenerational Korean family living in Japan, rising from abject poverty. While you won’t get phrases like “Buckle up, fucklehead!” from Lee’s classics-inspired writing style, Pachinko highlights not only how family secrets and strife are carried from one generation to the next but also how the indirect effects of colonial occupation and immigration are passed on. Logan Roy, you may forget, clawed his way out of Dundee, Scotland, and emigrated to both Canada and the United States as he made his fortune.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pachinko is among Cindy Fazzi's eight books about the impact of Japanese imperialism during WWII, Eman Quotah's eight books about mothers separated from their daughters, Karolina Waclawiak's six favorite books on loss and longing, Allison Patkai's top six books with strong female voices, Tara Sonin's twenty-one books for fans of HBO’s Succession, and six books Jia Tolentino recommends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Pg. 99: Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff's "Mary Climbs In"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mary Climbs In: The Journeys of Bruce Springsteen's Women Fans by Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bruce Springsteen has been cherished by his fans for decades, from his early days playing high school gymnasiums through globally successful albums and huge stadium shows to solo performances in intimate theaters. As his long and illustrious career has evolved, the legendary devotion of his fans has remained a constant. Springsteen fans have become worthy of study in their own right, with books, memoirs, and even a movie documenting their passion and perspectives. But his fans are not monolithic, and surprisingly little attention has been paid to why so many women from across the world adore The Boss.

Mary Climbs In illuminates this once overlooked but increasingly important and multi-faceted conversation about female audiences for Springsteen’s music. Drawing on unique surveys of fans themselves, the study offers insight into women’s experiences in their own voices. Authors Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff explore the depth of women fans’ connection to Springsteen and the profound ways this connection has shaped their lives. Reflections from fans enliven each page as readers journey through the camaraderie and joy of concerts, the sorrow and confusion of personal loss and suffering, the love and closeness of community, and the search for meaning and for the self. Viewed through a psychological lens, women fans’ relationship with Springsteen is revealed in all its complexity as never before. Mary Climbs In is an important interdisciplinary contribution to the growing field of Springsteen studies and a must-read for any fan.
Learn more about Mary Climbs In at the Rutgers University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Mary Climbs In.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top obsessive love affairs in literature

Bronwyn Fischer is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA program in creative writing. She also holds a BA from the University of Toronto. She now lives in Toronto with her wife, Emma.

Fischer's debut novel is The Adult.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books that
encase the intensity of obsessive love. They are at times, devotions to a beloved, they are relics of love’s overwhelm, they are attempts by lovers to stop loving, to remember a different answer to the always-there question— how should life be?
One title on the list:
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s nameless and genderless narrator asks, “You want love to be like this every day don’t you? 92 degrees even in the shade.”The book depicts an affair between the narrator and the beloved, Louise, a married woman.

Winterson depicts a love affair based on particularities: in Written on the Body, love is specific. It has a subject, a beloved. Winterson describes parts of her beloved’s body against the anatomical definitions of these parts, for example, drawing into focus the separation between a general understanding of a clavicle, and Louise’s collarbone in particular. This particularity is what makes losing love so painful—as Winterson’s narrator states, “[t]his hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no one else can fit it.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 23, 2023

Pg. 99: Brian McAllister Linn's "Real Soldiering"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Real Soldiering: The US Army in the Aftermath of War, 1815-1980 by Brian McAllister Linn.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens to the US Army after the battles are over, the citizen soldiers depart, and all that remains is the Regular Army? In this pathbreaking work, Brian Linn argues that in each decade following every major conflict since the War of 1812 the postwar army has undergone a long, painful, and remarkably consistent recovery process as it struggled to build a new model force to replace the “Old Army” that entered the conflict. Departing from the Washington-centric institutional histories of the past, Linn sets his focus on soldiering in the field, distilling the lived experiences of officers and troopers who were responsible for cleaning up the messes left in the wake of war.

Real Soldiering provides the first comprehensive study of the US Army’s transition from war to peace. It is both a wide-ranging history of the army’s postwar experience and a work detailing the commonalities of American soldiering over almost two centuries. Linn challenges three common historical interpretations: confusing Washington policy with implementation in the field; conflating postwar armies with prewar armies; and describing certain postwar eras as distinct and transformational. Rather, Linn examines the postwar force as a distinct entity worthy of study as a unique and important part of US Army history. He identifies the common dilemmas faced by the service in the aftermath of every war. These problems included such military priorities as defense legislation, preparing for the next war, and adapting to new missions. But they also incorporated often overlooked—but for those who lived through them more important—consistencies such as officer acquisition and career management, personnel turbulence, insufficient personnel and equipment, and many others.

Real Soldiering represents over four decades of research into the US Army and is deeply informed by Linn’s experiences teaching and working with soldiers. It breaks new ground in lifting out the similarities of each postwar army while still appreciating their individual complexities. It identifies the leaders and the methods the service employed to escape the inevitable postwar drawdowns. Insightful and entertaining, provocative and empathetic, and a work of history with immediate relevance, Real Soldiering will resonate with military historians, defense analysts, and those who have proudly worn the US Army uniform.
Learn more about Real Soldiering at the University Press of Kansas website.

The Page 99 Test: Real Soldiering.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great thrillers about modern rebels

Wendy Heard is the author of the acclaimed YA novels Dead End Girls and She's Too Pretty to Burn, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, as well as the adult thrillers The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, and is a contributor at and Writer's Digest. Heard lives in Los Angeles, California.

Her new novel is We'll Never Tell.

At CrimeReads Heard tagged six "favorite stories about adventurers, bohemians, nomads, runaways, and other modern rebels." One title on the list:
A Beautiful Crime by Christopher Bollen

This upmarket crime novel follows two lovers, Nick and Clay, who meet in Venice with a plan to scam a millionaire by selling him counterfeit antiques and escape their turbulent lives in New York City. An atmospheric portrait of Venice and a contemplation of morally gray protagonists, A Beautiful Crime is evocative, dark, and twisty. Faithful to the international heist genre, its roots are in old New York, and Bollen paints a vivid picture of modern Venice. What is home, and who is truly good? These questions are left semi-answered, and the exploration is really the point.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Crime.

My Book, The Movie: A Beautiful Crime.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Q&A with Amy Grace Loyd

From my Q&A with Amy Grace Loyd, author of The Pain of Pleasure:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

As preface I should say that I almost called the novel Heavenly High as a reference to the Nietzsche epigraph at the start of the novel, that pain and pleasure are inextricably linked and if one wants a heavenly high, they’d better be prepared for its opposite. I thought about The Habits of Pain, Habits of Pleasure, given our habits at either extreme, and in between, are actually written into our brain, on a synaptic level.

But finally, The Pain of Pleasure just felt most direct. It gets to the thematic stuff pretty effectively—that our pleasures can become our pains—and it’s an intentional reversal on the more familiar S&M phrasing, the pleasure of pain.

The story is largely based in a headache clinic and digs into the science of pain. For migraine sufferers in particular, on a super literal level, a lot of the fun and/or delicious stuff on offer in this life—like booze, too much junk food, too much sugar or salt, getting too little sleep, getting too much, and storms coming and landing hard—can lead to a migraine attack.

Then I also wanted to get to what we do to avoid pain—sex, drugs, whether prescription or illicit, distractions, even obsessions of one kind or another. There’s a missing woman at the heart of things in this novel, a former patient of the doctor who runs the clinic. She’s left behind a journal for the doctor, an account of her affair with a married man. At first, her lover is the answer to a lot of what ails her — she feels “a different woman in a different body.” There are sensual discoveries in store for her, in great contrast to the sensual wallop she gets when she’s stricken, and she believes she’s fallen in love, but that...[read on]
Visit Amy Grace Loyd's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Pain of Pleasure.

Q&A with Amy Grace Loyd.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten adventure stories for girls

Kim Sherwood is an author and creative writing lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where she lives in the city. Her first novel, Testament (2018), won the Bath Novel Award and Harper’s Bazaar Big Book Award. It was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Pick. In 2019, she was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second book, Double or Nothing (2022), is the first in a trilogy commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to expand the world of James Bond. Her latest novel, A Wild & True Relation (2023), was described by Dame Hilary Mantel as “a rarity – a novel as remarkable for the vigour of the storytelling as for its literary ambition. Kim Sherwood is a writer of capacity, potency and sophistication.”

At the Guardian Sherwood tagged ten favorite adventure stories for girls, including:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)

Spanning the golden era of comic books, Josef Kavalier arrives in New York a refugee and teams up with his cousin Sammy Klayman to create The Escapist, a Jewish fusion of Superman and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Travelling from Europe to Antarctica, the novel is a quest to escape from the horrors of the Holocaust: “Having lost his mother, father, brother and grandfather … his city, his history – his home – the usual charge levelled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf.”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is among Phong Nguyen's seven books that live halfway between history and myth, Francis Spufford's ten top New York novels, Jenny Shank's top six works of literary fiction that take their mythical creatures seriously, Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, and Sam Anderson's list of five books we'll still be talking about in 2020.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert P Crease's "The Leak"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Leak: Politics, Activists, and Loss of Trust at Brookhaven National Laboratory by Robert P. Crease with Peter D. Bond.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the discovery of a harmless leak of radiation sparked a media firestorm, political grandstanding, and fearmongering that closed a vital scientific facility.

In 1997, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory found a small leak of radioactive water near their research reactor. Brookhaven was—and is—a world-class, Nobel Prize–winning lab, and its reactor was the cornerstone of US materials science and one of the world's finest research facilities. The leak, harmless to health, came from a storage pool rather than the reactor. But its discovery triggered a media and political firestorm that resulted in the reactor's shutdown, and even attempts to close the entire laboratory.

A quarter century later, the episode reveals the dynamics of today's controversies in which fears and the dismissal of science disrupt serious discussion and research of vital issues such as vaccines, climate change, and toxic chemicals. This story has all the elements of a thriller, with vivid characters and dramatic twists and turns. Key players include congressmen and scientists; journalists and university presidents; actors, supermodels, and anti-nuclear activists, all interacting and teaming up in surprising ways. The authors, each with insider knowledge of and access to confidential documents and the key players, reveal how a fact of no health significance could be portrayed as a Chernobyl-like disaster. This compelling exposé reveals the gaps between scientists, politicians, media, and the public that have only gotten more dangerous since 1997.
Visit Robert P Crease's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Leak.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rachel Cochran's "The Gulf"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Gulf by Rachel Cochran.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this electrifying debut literary thriller, set on the gulf coast of Texas in the 1970s at the height of the women’s liberation movement, a closeted young woman attempts to solve her surrogate mother’s murder in a tight-knit, religious small town.

In Parson, Texas, a small town ravaged by a devastating hurricane and the Vietnam War, twenty-nine-year-old Lou is diligently renovating a decaying old mansion for Miss Kate, the elderly neighbor who has always been like a mother to her. Mourning her brother’s death in Vietnam, Lou dreams of enjoying a more peaceful future in Parson. But those hopes are crushed when Miss Kate is murdered, and no one but Lou seems to care about finding the killer.

The situation becomes complicated when Joanna, Miss Kate’s long-estranged daughter and Lou’s first love, arrives in Parson—not to learn more about her mother’s death but for the house. Her arrival unearths sinister secrets involving the history of the town and its residents . . . revelations that may be the key to helping Lou discover the truth about Miss Kate’s death and her killer.

A gorgeously written, gripping story of forbidden love and devastating secrets that is a surprising twist on the traditional small-town story, The Gulf is a riveting and unsettling mystery that holds up a mirror to the values—and failures—of America.
Visit Rachel Cochran's website.

Writers Read: Rachel Cochran.

The Page 69 Test: The Gulf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

What is Rachel Cochran reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rachel Cochran, author of The Gulf.

Her entry begins:
I adore books about obsessive friendships, particularly friendships formed in adolescence. In my life–and in my novel, The Gulf–adolescence is a strange, stormy time, one in which attractions and repulsions are overpowering and occasionally deeply intermixed. Novels that can paint this complicated dynamic in convincing ways utterly absorb me.

One such novel I recently read and adored is Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, recommended to me by a close friend. I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical: the synopsis, which tells you that the novel is about an artist who returns to her hometown in adulthood and thinks about her childhood, seems to admit that not much happens in the story, plot-wise, and usually that’s a sticking point for me. But in Cat’s Eye, the happening is deeply embedded in the language itself–and ultimately the mind of the narrator–as she turns these gut-wrenching, white-hot memories over and over, handling them and gazing into them much like she used to do with the cat’s eye marble named in the title.

Two much more recent examples are Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You and...[read on]
About The Gulf, from the publisher:
In this electrifying debut literary thriller, set on the gulf coast of Texas in the 1970s at the height of the women’s liberation movement, a closeted young woman attempts to solve her surrogate mother’s murder in a tight-knit, religious small town.

In Parson, Texas, a small town ravaged by a devastating hurricane and the Vietnam War, twenty-nine-year-old Lou is diligently renovating a decaying old mansion for Miss Kate, the elderly neighbor who has always been like a mother to her. Mourning her brother’s death in Vietnam, Lou dreams of enjoying a more peaceful future in Parson. But those hopes are crushed when Miss Kate is murdered, and no one but Lou seems to care about finding the killer.

The situation becomes complicated when Joanna, Miss Kate’s long-estranged daughter and Lou’s first love, arrives in Parson—not to learn more about her mother’s death but for the house. Her arrival unearths sinister secrets involving the history of the town and its residents . . . revelations that may be the key to helping Lou discover the truth about Miss Kate’s death and her killer.

A gorgeously written, gripping story of forbidden love and devastating secrets that is a surprising twist on the traditional small-town story, The Gulf is a riveting and unsettling mystery that holds up a mirror to the values—and failures—of America.
Visit Rachel Cochran's website.

Writers Read: Rachel Cochran.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joshua May's "Neuroethics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Neuroethics: Agency in the Age of Brain Science by Joshua May.

About the book, from the publisher:
Is free will an illusion? Is addiction a brain disease? Should we enhance our brains beyond normal? Neuroethics blends philosophical analysis with modern brain science to address these and other critical questions through captivating cases. The result is a nuanced view of human agency as surprisingly diverse and flexible. With a lively and accessible writing style, Neuroethics is an indispensable resource for students and scholars in both the sciences and humanities.
Visit Josh May's website.

The Page 99 Test: Neuroethics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven scandalous betrayals in literature

Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British Nigerian writer and book editor from London.

The Three of Us is her first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven literary betrayals etched in her memory, including:
Atonement by Ian McEwan

Two words: Briony Tallis. That’s it.

Honestly, if you know anything about the story—by way of either the film with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy or the book it’s based on by Ian McEwan—you don’t really need much of a play by play of how brutal the betrayal in this book is and what happens when jealousy and—quite literally—a lack of communication take hold of a young and impressionable mind.
Read about another entry on the list.

Atonement also appears on Brittany Bunzey's list of 23 books about backstabbing and betrayal, Emma Rous's list of the ten top dinner parties in modern fiction, David Leavitt's top ten list of house parties in fiction, Abbie Greaves's top ten list of books about silence, Eliza Casey's list of ten favorite stories--from film, fiction, and television--from the early 20th century, Nicci French's top ten list of dinner parties in fiction, Mark Skinner's list of ten of the best country house novels, Julia Dahl's top ten list of books about miscarriages of justice, Tim Lott's top ten list of summers in fiction, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, David Treuer's six favorite books list, Kirkus Reviews's list of eleven books whose final pages will shock you, Nicole Hill's list of eleven books in which the main character dies, Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Pg. 69: C. M. Alongi's "Citadel"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Citadel by C. M. Alongi.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this luminous sci-fi debut, a nonverbal autistic woman refuses to crumble as she stands against a dogmatic society clinging to a centuries-long conflict built on lies.

Citadel is the only human city on the alien planet Edalide, ruled by the biweekly tides that bring both deadly danger and much-needed resources. But the drowning waters, constant threat of starvation, and eternal cold aren’t the most dangerous challenge. For the Flooded Forest is ruled by demons: monsters from Hell sent by their vengeful god as penance for their ancestors’ rebellion. To save their souls and return to their former glory, Citadel must kill every single one.

Or so they believe.

Olivia lost her lover to the demons almost a year ago. But during a scientific expedition, a chance encounter reveals that the demons are sentient—a startling discovery that would get Olivia executed if she exposed it.

Driven by the burning need for answers, Olivia embarks on a dangerous journey into the Forest. There, she must face alien monsters, zealous warriors, and the demons of her own past. But change comes slowly, and always with a price…
Visit C. M. Alongi's website.

The Page 69 Test: Citadel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top dystopian mysteries

Claire Fuller's five novels are: The Memory of Animals (2023); Unsettled Ground (which won the Costa Novel Award 2021, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction); the critically acclaimed Bitter Orange (longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award); Swimming Lessons (shortlisted for the Encore Prize for second novels, and Livre de Poche Prize in France); and Our Endless Numbered Days (winner of the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction). They have been translated into more than twenty languages.

At Lit Hub Fuller says there are surprisingly few "dystopian mysteries or mysterious dystopian novels," and she tagged seven of her favorites. One title on the list:
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Mysteries within a mysterious dystopian world. Narrated by Kathy H., it doesn’t take long for the reader to learn that she’s a carer for clones who have been raised as organ donors. She and her two friends, Ruth and Tommy, have been living in a kind of boarding school which is beset by rumors and the three of them go on a quest to have their questions answered.

This is a dystopia that isn’t interested in the science, instead it focuses on relationships and the mysteries that Kathy H., Ruth and Tommy need to unravel.
Read about another entry on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Elizabeth Brooks's list of ten great novels with unreliable narrators, Lincoln Michel's top ten list of strange sci-fi dystopias, Amelia Morris's lits of ten of the most captivating fictional frenemies, Edward Ashton's eight titles about what it means to be human, Bethany Ball's list of the seven weirdest high schools in literature, Zak Salih's eight books about childhood pals—and the adults they become, Rachel Donohue's list of seven coming-of-age novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural, Chris Mooney's list of six top intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics, James Scudamore's top ten list of books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's list of eight novels about students and teachers behaving badly, LitHub's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Meg Wolitzer's ten favorite books list, Jeff Somers's lists of nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare and "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other" and eight tales of technology run amok and top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue