Sunday, June 30, 2024

What is David Housewright reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Housewright, author of Man in the Water: A McKenzie Novel.

The entry begins:
I tend not to read other writers’ books while I’m working on my own. Fortunately, I finished my next book about six weeks ago and sent it off to my publisher. I’ve been binging ever since. Two books stand out.

The first is Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane. I’ve always maintained that the best crime novels are always about more than the crime and whodunit; are always about more than who killed Mr. Body in the library with a candlestick (It was Miss Scarlet, by the way. It’s always Miss Scarlet). This book deals with race hatred, family, the criminality of power, personal salvation and so much more. It is thought-provoking as well as ...[read on]
About Man in the Water, from the publisher:
When his wife finds the body of an Army veteran in the lake, it is inevitable that former cop, now unofficial P.I. Rushmore McKenzie will get enmeshed in a complicated case of possible murder.

It all starts with the body in the water—on what should be the first boat day of the season, McKenzie’s wife Nina finds a dead Army vet. As the dock owner and the insurance companies claim that it was suicide, despite the deceased, E.J. Woods, having no obvious reason to kill himself, his widow starts acting suspiciously. McKenzie finds himself pulled into the fight when Naveah, the victim’s daughter, convinced her father was murdered, asks him to investigate.

Further complicating the situation are uncooperative boaters, allegations of PTSD, and the simple fact that there was no reason for E.J. to be in the water. McKenzie’s investigation unearths not only the petty squabbles surrounding the lake and its dock, but details of her father’s past that Naveah is perhaps better off not knowing. With Nina haunted by dreams of the body and the legal fight over cause of death becoming increasingly nasty, McKenzie may be the only one interested in finding justice for E.J.— and uncovering the truth before another person dies.
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.

Q&A with David Housewright.

Writers Read: David Housewright.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jonathan Connolly's "Worthy of Freedom"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Worthy of Freedom: Indenture and Free Labor in the Era of Emancipation by Jonathan Connolly.

About the book, from the publisher:
A study of Indian indentured labor in Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad that explores the history of indenture’s normalization.

In this book, historian Jonathan Connolly traces the normalization of indenture from its controversial beginnings to its widespread adoption across the British Empire during the nineteenth century. Initially viewed as a covert revival of slavery, indenture caused a scandal in Britain and India. But over time, economic conflict in the colonies altered public perceptions of indenture, now increasingly viewed as a legitimate form of free labor and a means of preserving the promise of abolition. Connolly explains how the large-scale, state-sponsored migration of Indian subjects to work on sugar plantations across Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad transformed both the notion of post-slavery free labor and the political economy of emancipation.

Excavating legal and public debates and tracing practical applications of the law, Connolly carefully reconstructs how the categories of free and unfree labor were made and remade to suit the interests of capital and empire, showing that emancipation was not simply a triumphal event but, rather, a deeply contested process. In so doing, he advances an original interpretation of how indenture changed the meaning of “freedom” in a post-abolition world.
Learn more about Worthy of Freedom at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Worthy of Freedom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about Turkey

Sami Kent is a Turkish-British writer and radio producer based between London and Istanbul, and has reported on Turkey for The Guardian, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, From Our Own Correspondent, Al Jazeera, The London Review of Books, Vice and many others.

His new book is The Endless Country: A Personal Journey Through Turkey’s First Hundred Years.

At the Guardian Kent tagged "five of the best books to understand [Turkey]’s first 100 years." One title on the list:
I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan

In 2016, writer Altan was arrested and sent to prison, along with his brother and tens of thousands more – the victims of Turkey’s purges after its failed attempted coup. Yet still Altan wanted to write. And so, over a period of seven months, he smuggled out handwritten notes to his lawyers, slowly putting together a memoir of his time in Silivri, Turkey’s biggest and most notorious jail. Written with a novelist’s precision, it is a testament to Turks’ enduring belief in the power of stories. “Like all writers, I have magic,” Altan writes. “I can pass through your walls with ease”.
Read about another entry on the list.

I Will Never See the World Again is among Joe Moran's best books to help us survive a crisis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Pg. 69: Lori Roy's "Lake County"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lake County: A Novel by Lori Roy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set in the 1950s, this thriller by Edgar Award–winning author Lori Roy reimagines the life of Marilyn Monroe, tying her fate to a dreamy teenager whose boyfriend runs afoul of the mob.

Desperate to break free of small-town Florida, Addie Anne Buckley dreams of following in the path of her glamorous aunt Jean―known to the world as Marilyn Monroe. When Aunt Jean plans a trip to Hollywood for Addie’s eighteenth birthday, Addie sees her chance to escape.

One thing stands in her way: her boyfriend. Truitt Holt is Addie’s first and only love and will be joining her in California. But days before Addie’s due to leave, Truitt does an about-face and gives her a painful ultimatum: stay and marry him, or they’re through. Addie chooses her dream.

Hurt and angry, Truitt unwittingly exposes the illegal bolita game he’s been running in mob territory. Now the Tampa Mafia is after him, and he has until midnight to cut a deal that will save his life and Addie’s. What he doesn’t know…his trouble with the mob has already found Addie and her family. She’s already in a fight for her life.
Visit Lori Roy's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lake County.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jared Schroeder's "The Structure of Ideas"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Structure of Ideas: Mapping a New Theory of Free Expression in the AI Era by Jared Schroeder.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his historic 1919 dissent, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes named, and thus catalyzed the creation of, the marketplace of ideas. This conceptual space has, ever since, been used to give shape to American constitutional notions of the freedom of expression. It has also eluded clear definition, as jurists and scholars have contested its meaning for more than a century. In The Structure of Ideas, Jared Schroeder takes on the task of mapping the various iterations of the marketplace, from its early foundations in Enlightenment beliefs in universal truths and rational actors, to its increasingly expansive parameters for protecting expression in the arenas of commercial, corporate, and online speech. Schroeder contends that in today's information landscape, marked by the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence, the marketplace is failing to provide a space where truths succeed and falsity fails. AI and networked technologies have thoroughly overpowered all traditional pictures of the marketplace up to now. Schroeder proposes various theoretical interventions that would revise the marketplace for the current moment, and concludes by describing a new space built around algorithms, AI, and virtual communication.
Learn more about The Structure of Ideas at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Structure of Ideas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best Neo-Westerns

Kent Wascom was born in New Orleans and raised in Pensacola, Florida. His first novel, The Blood of Heaven, was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. It was a semifinalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan Award for First Fiction. Wascom was awarded the 2012 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for Fiction and selected as one of Gambit‘s 40 Under 40. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where he directs the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University.

Wascom's new novel is The Great State of West Florida.

At Lit Hub he tagged five favorite Neo-Westerns, including:
Robin McLean, Pity the Beast

If I was pressed at sixgun-point to name my favorite novel of the last decade and my favorite living American writer, the answer to both questions is Pity the Beast by Robin McLean. When this book came out there should’ve been celebrations in the streets, because here at last we have a writer squaring up with the grim violent Western tale and its practitioners not on their terms, but on hers.

McLean does so many things in her fiction that make her, for my money, peerless, but one of the most characteristic and thrilling aspects of her work is that she never, ever forgets the natural world and relentlessly scales her human characters against it in such a way that they are alternately reduced by the majesty and indifference of nature, but also enlarged by that sense of scale. Her characters aren’t archetypes, even though many see themselves as such, they don’t tower and loom over the landscape, but set against such a masterfully rendered landscape, they sure do stand tall.

And, most importantly for me, here we have some of the most heartstopping sentences I’ve ever read. Set in the American West of the present day, we follow Ginny, a rancher who’s assaulted by her husband and neighbors and left for dead, but survives and takes up rifle and horse, hitting the trail to outrun her pursuers, who want her silenced and worse—this one’s as close to a traditional Neo-Western as anything on this list.

But saying so risks reducing a novel that contains a galaxy of voices, times, and tones, one that can speak in the voice of the pop-culture Western (often literally, in the voice of a TV narrator and shows like Gunsmoke), of a team of pack mules, and of far-future arboreal census-takers hovering over a radically changed and peaceful Earth. McLean isn’t leapfrogging POVs for the sake of pure pyrotechnics; each jump is built on the characters of the novel and how they see themselves, their interior lives, their fantasies. It’s utterly marvelous, and the sheer verve and excitement of the whole thing manages to balance the truly ugly events of the opening chapters.

Roberto Bolaño once described a classic as a book that’s able to decode or reorder the canon, and for my money Pity the Beast is a classic. But McLean’s novel does so much more than repurpose or critique the canonical elements of the western or the revenge story, it does another thing Bolaño says classics do, it “ventures into new territory and in some way enriches (that is, illuminates) the tree of literature and smooths the paths for those who follow.”

You read a book like Pity the Beast and suddenly you’re one of the other runners in the world after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, thrillingly aware that what you once believed to be impossible is actually achievable. There’s no guarantee you’ll pull it off, and I’m not sure my anime-infused pulpy bloodbath of a book does, but it’s fun as hell to chase that feeling, and that’s what kept me coming back to the page.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 28, 2024

Q&A with John Copenhaver

From my Q&A with John Copenhaver, author of Hall of Mirrors: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Images often make great titles. Before I began outlining the story, I knew I would call the novel Hall of Mirrors because it’s evocative, and I like the metaphorical image it conjured in the reader’s mind. It’s about doubles and identity. My bad girl/good teen duo, Judy and Philippa, from the first book, The Savage Kind, return, but now it’s 1954, and Washington, DC, is fully consumed with post-WWII paranoia.

Enter Lionel and Roger, who serve as foils for Judy and Philippa. They are a mixed-race gay couple who write under the pseudonym of Ray Kane, a hardboiled, straight mystery author persona, one of the girls’ favorite authors. After Roger is fired from his day job at the State Department for being gay, which was part of an actual initiative carried out by the federal government called the Lavender Scare, he dies in a suspicious fire. The cops deem it a suicide, but Lionel suspects foul play.

Both Judy and Philippa and Roger and Lionel represent mixed-race same-sex couples, so they serve as reflections of one another. But like any funhouse hall of mirrors, there’s distortion. Are they who they seem? Are there good and bad reasons for deceiving others about your identity?

Mirror images and doubles are also a trope in classic film noir. I reference the final scene from The Lady from Shanghai because it was an incredible...[read on]
Visit John Copenhaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Savage Kind.

My Book, The Movie: The Savage Kind.

Q&A with John Copenhaver.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Goodin's "Consent Matters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Consent Matters by Robert E. Goodin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Consent works moral magic. Things that would otherwise be wrong to do to someone are, with that person's consent, made morally permissible. But what is consent, and how does it work? What can be taken for consent (perhaps wrongly) and with what consequences? How does consent come into being and pass out of it? How can consent be conferred, invoked and revoked? What is the role of social and legal norms in governing consent? How contextually sensitive should those norms be in applying to diverse settings, ranging from sexual encounters to prison hospitals to the poll booth? Those are the sorts of broad questions animating this book. It aspires to provide a comprehensive account of the social practice of consent, informed by deep reading in the history of ideas, philosophy, law, political science and sociology. Consent Matters thus serves, at one and the same time, as a guide for the perplexed social practitioner of consent and as a touchstone for philosophical attempts to theorize and to refine those existing practices.
Learn more about Consent Matters at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: On Complicity and Compromise by Chiara Lepora and Robert E. Goodin.

The Page 99 Test: Consent Matters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top office & workplace thrillers

Mary Keliikoa is the author of Hidden Pieces, a Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Finalist and Ippy Silver Award Winning mystery, and Deadly Tides, the first two books in the Misty Pines Series featuring small-town Sheriff Jax Turner, and the Shamus Finalist and Lefty, Agatha & Anthony nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series.

Keliikoa's new book is Don't Ask, Don't Follow, is her first domestic suspense novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight novels "in an office and workplace setting that will have you side-eying your own colleagues," including:
The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

Two women, one a lawyer, one the human resource director, get in an elevator on the 30th floor heading home after a long day at fashion conglomerate Claudine de Martineau International. By the time the elevator arrives in the lobby, one of them is dead. Wow—this book takes some twists and turns and explores evil on a global and corporate level. Twisty and intriguing. Definitely recommend!
Read about another title on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Cage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Maggie Nye's "The Curators," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Curators: A Novel by Maggie Nye.

The entry begins:
It’s every author’s secret dream to have their novel turned into a feature film, and I’m no exception. And, OK, maybe I’m biased, but there are some really cinematic moments with shadow puppets, turn-of-the century home video, and a golem. You’d go see that movie, wouldn’t you, reader??

Here’s a very simplified rundown of the novel: A group of just-fourteen-year-old Jewish girls in 1915 Atlanta becomes obsessed with the murder of a factory girl their age and the subsequent trial and lynching of her Jewish boss, Leo Frank (real historical events in 1913-1915 Georgia). In an attempt to keep the story alive, they bring a golem to life using dirt from group leader Ana Wullf’s garden. And they build it in the likeness of Leo Frank. Predictably, once magic is involved, things go terribly awry. The Curators is a tale of obsession, devotion, and the pursuit of truth--at any cost.

I think Jennifer Kente would be my ideal director for the film adaptation. She’s Australian, so she might need a southern co-director, but the dark, highly-stylized atmospheres she conjures in films like The Nightingale (2018) and The Babadook (2014)--women-focused lyrical and compassionate descents into mania--would make her an excellent candidate, in my mind, to direct The Curators film.

As for casting, this is tough because I’m not super familiar with child/early teen actors. My ideal Ana Wulff would be someone in the spirit of Kate Winslet’s Juliet Hume in Peter Jackson’s early and excellent 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures. A tenacious, fierce smart-aleck. Yellowjacket’s young Misty, played by the half-rabid goody-two-shoes...[read on]
Visit Maggie Nye's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Curators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about math

Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian and a YouTuber with over one hundred million views. He is the author of the international bestseller Humble Pi and Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. Parker is also frequently seen, heard, and read on the Science Channel, on BBC radio, and in The Guardian, in that order. He has previously held world records for both the Rubik’s Cube and Space Invaders. In the pursuit of math, Parker has: flipped a coin 10,000 times, traveled to Antarctica, memorized π to hundreds of digits, and been bitten by a bullet ant in the Amazon rainforest. He has given math lectures at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Harvard University, and Lake Monger Primary School.

Parker's new book is Love Triangle: How Trigonometry Shapes the World.

At the Guardian he tagged five of the best books about maths (or math, as Americans call it). One title on the list:
Hello World by Hannah Fry

It may seem obvious in hindsight that AI would become a big aspect of modern life, but Hannah Fry was ahead of the curve when she wrote about the potential impact algorithms were going to have on us. As relevant now as it was when published six years ago, Hello World is an excellent explanation of how algorithms are not some otherworldly intelligence but rather manifestations of our own beliefs and biases.
Read about another book on Parker's list.

Also see: Ian Stewart's top ten popular mathematics books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Don H. Doyle's "The Age of Reconstruction"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Age of Reconstruction: How Lincoln's New Birth of Freedom Remade the World by Don H. Doyle.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping history of how Union victory in the American Civil War inspired democratic reforms, revolutions, and emancipation movements in Europe and the Americas

The Age of Reconstruction
looks beyond post–Civil War America to tell the story of how Union victory and Lincoln’s assassination set off a dramatic international reaction that drove European empires out of the Americas, hastened the end of slavery in Latin America, and ignited a host of democratic reforms in Europe.

In this international history of Reconstruction, Don Doyle chronicles the world events inspired by the Civil War. Between 1865 and 1870, France withdrew from Mexico, Russia sold Alaska to the United States, and Britain proclaimed the new state of Canada. British workers demanded more voting rights, Spain toppled Queen Isabella II and ended slavery in its Caribbean colonies, Cubans rose against Spanish rule, France overthrew Napoleon III, and the kingdom of Pope Pius IX fell before the Italian Risorgimento. Some European liberals, including Victor Hugo and Giuseppe Mazzini, even called for a “United States of Europe.” Yet for all its achievements and optimism, this “new birth of freedom” was short-lived. By the 1890s, Reconstruction had been undone in the United States and abroad and America had become an exclusionary democracy based on white supremacy—and a very different kind of model to the world.

At home and abroad, America’s Reconstruction was, as W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “the greatest and most important step toward world democracy of all men of all races ever taken in the modern world.” The Age of Reconstruction is a bracing history of

a remarkable period when democracy, having survived the great test of the Civil War, was ascendant around the Atlantic world.
Learn more about The Age of Reconstruction at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Cause of All Nations.

Writers Read: Don H. Doyle (January 2015).

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Reconstruction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rachel Howzell Hall's "What Fire Brings"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: What Fire Brings: A Thriller by Rachel Howzell Hall.

About the book, from the publisher:
A writer’s search for her missing friend becomes a real-life thriller in a twisting novel of suspense by the New York Times bestselling author of These Toxic Things.

Bailey Meadows has just moved into the remote Topanga Canyon home of thriller author Jack Beckham. As his writer-in-residence, she’s supposed to help him once again reach the bestseller list. But she’s not there to write a thriller―she’s there to find Sam Morris, a community leader dedicated to finding missing people, who has disappeared in the canyon surrounding Beckham’s property.

The missing woman was last seen in the drought-stricken forest known for wildfires and mountain lions. Each new day, Bailey learns just how dangerous these canyons are―for the other women who have also gone missing here…and for her. Could these missing women be linked to strange events that occurred decades ago at the Beckham estate?

As fire season in the canyons approaches, Bailey must race to unravel the truth from fiction before she becomes the next woman lost in the forest.
Visit Rachel Howzell Hall's website.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

The Page 69 Test: What Fire Brings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Q&A with Kathleen Bryant

From my Q&A with Kathleen Bryant, author of Over the Edge:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I chose Over the Edge as my working title because it reflected the story’s trigger incident and emotional theme.

The book opens with Jeep guide Del Cooper’s discovery of a body lying on a canyon ledge, someone who’s literally fallen over the edge. Or so it seems.

As for Del, she’s been figuratively over the edge. Three years earlier, she was a crime reporter who made an error in judgment that killed a cop. She started drinking, lost her job, and even now, after pulling herself back from the abyss, she struggles to hold it together. She has unexplained visions that might be clues to the murder… or signals she’s still poised at the knife edge of normalcy.

What's in a name?

Sedona--the name is sibilant, mysterious, even seductive. People fascinated by...[read on]
Visit Kathleen Bryant's website.

My Book, The Movie: Over the Edge.

Q&A with Kathleen Bryant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Aziz Rana's "The Constitutional Bind"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Constitutional Bind: How Americans Came to Idolize a Document That Fails Them by Aziz Rana.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening account of how Americans came to revere the Constitution and what this reverence has meant domestically and around the world.

Some Americans today worry that the Federal Constitution is ill-equipped to respond to mounting democratic threats and may even exacerbate the worst features of American politics. Yet for as long as anyone can remember, the Constitution has occupied a quasi-mythical status in American political culture, which ties ideals of liberty and equality to assumptions about the inherent goodness of the text’s design. The Constitutional Bind explores how a flawed document came to be so glorified and how this has impacted American life.

In a pathbreaking retelling of the American experience, Aziz Rana shows that today’s reverential constitutional culture is a distinctively twentieth-century phenomenon. Rana connects this widespread idolization to another relatively recent development: the rise of US global dominance. Ultimately, such veneration has had far-reaching consequences: despite offering a unifying language of reform, it has also unleashed an interventionist national security state abroad while undermining the possibility of deeper change at home.

Revealing how the current constitutional order was forged over the twentieth century, The Constitutional Bind also sheds light on an array of movement activists—in Black, Indigenous, feminist, labor, and immigrant politics—who struggled to imagine different constitutional horizons. As time passed, these voices of opposition were excised from memory. Today, they offer essential insights.
Visit Aziz Rana's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Constitutional Bind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine experimental books that break narrative norms

Alana Saab is a literary writer and screenwriter. She holds a master of fine arts in fiction from The New School, a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, and her bachelor’s from New York University in the phenomenology of storytelling. She lives in New York with her partner.

Please Stop Trying to Leave Me is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Saab tagged "nine literary works [that] show how talented writers break narrative norms in service to something greater." One title on the list:
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

A non-daunting book that gives you room to breathe around the anguish of loss, while simultaneously not taking its hands off your neck.

Words are containers, but what happens when traditional narrative cannot properly hold the amount of grief one feels? In this novel, an unnamed narrator famous for saying something ridiculous on “the portal,” a placeholder for any social media platform you want to imagine, narrates her day-to-day influencer life. Half-way through the book, her sister gives birth to a daughter with Proteus syndrome. The narrator spends time with the baby who cannot see or hear and who will, they all know, die soon.

This story knocks you off your feet by placing a mirror up to our society, juxtaposing our most shallow aspects with the deepest grief one can imagine, watching someone completely innocent be dealt the worst hand in the game. But Patricia Lockwood does this without lecturing us on how “bad” we are. Lockwood leaves ample white space on the page which allows for real-time reflection and processing: of grief, of unspeakable pain, and of our own shame.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Pg. 69: Meg Gardiner's "Shadowheart"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Shadowheart by Meg Gardiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens when two serial killers begin to compete with each other?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Gardiner comes a new high-octane thriller in the acclaimed UNSUB series.

FBI Special Agent Caitlin Hendrix faces a case from nightmares.

In a Tennessee prison, Efrem Judah Goode draws haunting portraits of women he claims he has killed. Around the country, desperate families of the missing seek answers in his eerie drawings. And on darkened back roads and New York City streets, a new killer poses duct-taped bodies at the sites of Goode’s murders.

Two serial killers are locked in a twisted rivalry. To stop the brutal slayings, FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix must unravel the connection between Goode and the Broken Heart Killer. Their warped competition destroys anyone in their path. Caught between a manipulative psychopath and a ruthless UNSUB, Caitlin has to dive into not one, but two dark and twisted minds. She will risk everything, plunging into the depths of their depraved clash to hunt down an unstoppable killer.
Visit Meg Gardiner's website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

The Page 69 Test: The Dirty Secrets Club.

The Page 69 Test: The Memory Collector.

My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney series.

The Page 69 Test: The Liar's Lullaby.

My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Jo Beckett series.

The Page 69 Test: The Nightmare Thief.

The Page 69 Test: Ransom River.

The Page 69 Test: The Shadow Tracer.

The Page 69 Test: Phantom Instinct.

The Page 69 Test: UNSUB.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Black Nowhere.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Corners of the Night.

The Page 69 Test: Shadowheart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Patrick Moser's "Waikīkī Dreams"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Waikīkī Dreams: How California Appropriated Hawaiian Beach Culture by Patrick Moser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite a genuine admiration for Native Hawaiian culture, white Californians of the 1930s ignored authentic relationships with Native Hawaiians. Surfing became a central part of what emerged instead: a beach culture of dressing, dancing, and acting like an Indigenous people whites idealized.

Patrick Moser uses surfing to open a door on the cultural appropriation practiced by Depression-era Californians against a backdrop of settler colonialism and white nationalism. Recreating the imagined leisure and romance of life in Waikīkī attracted people buffeted by economic crisis and dislocation. California-manufactured objects like surfboards became a physical manifestation of a dream that, for all its charms, emerged from a white impulse to both remove and replace Indigenous peoples. Moser traces the rise of beach culture through the lives of trendsetters Tom Blake, John “Doc” Ball, Preston “Pete” Peterson, Mary Ann Hawkins, and Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison while also delving into California’s control over images of Native Hawaiians via movies, tourism, and the surfboard industry.

Compelling and innovative, Waikīkī Dreams opens up the origins of a defining California subculture.
Learn more about Waikīkī Dreams at the University of Illinois Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Waikīkī Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

The best books to better understand and enjoy sport history

Gerald Gems is professor emeritus at North Central College and past president of the North American Society for Sport History.

His new book is Mental Health, Gender, and the Rise of Sport. It argues that in the latter nineteenth century
Sports such as baseball, boxing, cycling, and football offered psychological relief from the stresses of a rapidly changing economic and social order. Cycling, in particular, provided women with the means to challenge the prescribed gender order of female domesticity, male hegemony, and the dictates of physically restrictive fashion. In the process, sport became a key component in the rise of feminism and a prescription for the epidemics that followed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
At Shepherd Gems tagged five top books to better understand and enjoy sport history, including:
The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America by Elliott J. Gorn

My next pick is a masterful account of astute analysis written in vibrant prose that recounts the working class version of pugilism during the Antebellum period and the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century. In the frontier communities, males issued public challenges to other individuals or, in general, appealed to any challengers to test one's masculinity.

Lacking rules, such contests allowed for brutal tactics, including eye gouging and even castration, unless or until an opponent admitted defeat. Rather than the middle and upper-class virtues of piety, sobriety, and social mobility, such altercations provided a compensatory value system that rewarded physical prowess.

With the gradual introduction of the Marquis of Queensberry rules after the Civil War, boxing gradually assumed a somewhat more genteel appearance and limited acceptance as a professional sport, producing working-class, racial, and ethnic heroes. By the end of the nineteenth century, it gained the stature of a commercialized business in which national champions vied with international opponents in regulated weight classes on a world stage.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2024

Q&A with Deborah Batterman

From my Q&A with Deborah Batterman, author of Just Like February:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

When I read a novel with an intriguing title — and I think that can be said about Just Like February — I always look to that aha! moment when its meaning is revealed. Jake is a Leap Year baby, which gives him a unique perspective in terms of the passage of time, not to mention what becomes the central metaphor of the novel, revealed maybe halfway into it. There’s a fascinating history to how the calendar evolved. Politics and religion played their part in determining the length of months and marking important days in a way that might still be in sync with astronomy. All of which got me thinking that for all the scientific accuracy we have, randomness plays its part in our lives. Just like February.

What's in a name?

More often than not the names of characters...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Deborah Batterman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Just Like February.

Q&A with Deborah Batterman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elsa Devienne's "Sand Rush"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sand Rush: The Revival of the Beach in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Elsa Devienne.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first history of the formidable campaign that transformed Los Angeles into one of the world's greatest coastal metropolises, revealing how the city's man-made shores became the site for the reinvention of seaside leisure and the triumph of modern bodies.

The Los Angeles shoreline is one of the most iconic natural landscapes in the United States, if not the world. The vast shores of Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu are familiar sights to film and television audiences, conveying images of pristine sand, carefree fun, and glamorous physiques. Yet, in the early twentieth century Angelenos routinely lamented the city's crowded, polluted, and eroded sands, many of which were private and thus inaccessible to the public.

Between the 1920s and the 1960s, LA's engineers, city officials, urban planners, and business elite worked together to transform the relatively untouched beaches into modern playgrounds for the white middle class. They cleaned up and enlarged the beaches--up to three times their original size--and destroyed old piers and barracks to make room for brand-new accommodations, parking lots, and freeways. The members of this powerful "beach lobby" reinvented the beach experience for the suburban age, effectively preventing a much-feared "white flight" from the coast. In doing so, they established Southern California as the national reference point for shoreline planning and coastal access. As they opened up vast public spaces for many Angelenos to express themselves, show off their bodies, and forge alternative communities, they made clear that certain groups of beachgoers, including African Americans, gay men and women, and bodybuilders, were no longer welcome. Despite their artificial origins, LA's beaches have proved remarkably resilient. The drastic human interventions into nature brought social and economic benefits to the region without long-term detrimental consequences on the environment. Yet the ongoing climate crisis and rapid sea level rise will eventually force the city to reckon with its past building.

Sand Rush not only uncovers how the Los Angeles coastline was constructed but also how this major planning and engineering project affected the lives of ordinary city-dwellers and attracted many Americans to move to Southern California. Featuring a foreword by Jenny Price, it recounts the formidable beach modernization campaign that transformed Los Angeles into one of the world's greatest coastal metropolises.
Learn more about Sand Rush at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Sand Rush.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six stunning tales of folk horror

Lucy Foley studied English literature at Durham University and University College London and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry. She is the author of five novels including The Paris Apartment and The Guest List. She lives in London.

Foley's newest novel is The Midnight Feast.

At CrimeReads the author tagged six favorite stories of folk horror, including:
The Changeling by Victor LaValle

A fascinating, shapeshifting, exquisitely written novel which is by turns enchanting and horrifying. After his wife commits an unspeakable act of violence and vanishes, the protagonist, Apollo, is left to go on an odyssey through a folkloric otherworld of weird creatures, mysterious islands and haunted forests, all occupying the same space as the five boroughs of New York City. Witches and trolls appear alongside discussions of race, immigration, cyberstalking and parenthood in this dark fairy-tale with some mind-blowing twists and more than a touch of folk horror along the way.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Changeling is among Brittany Bunzey's twenty-five "must-read, truly bone-chilling" horror books, Nat Cassidy's eight top unconventional coming-of-age horror novels, Benjamin Percy's top five novels about dangerous plants, James Han Mattson's five top dark and disturbing reads, A.K. Larkwood's five tense books that blend sci-fi and horror, Leah Schnelbach's ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring domestic terrors and C.J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring missing, mistaken, or "changed" children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Pg. 69: Katharine Schellman's "The Last Note of Warning"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Last Note of Warning: A Mystery (The Nightingale Mysteries, Volume 3) by Katharine Schellman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Last Note of Warning is the third in the luscious, mysterious, and queer Nightingale mystery series by Katharine Schellman, set in 1920s New York.

Prohibition is a dangerous time to be a working-class woman in New York City, but Vivian Kelly has finally found some measure of stability and freedom. By day, she’s a respectable shop assistant, delivering luxurious dresses to the city’s wealthy and elite. At night, she joins the madcap revelry of New York’s underworld, serving illegal drinks and dancing into the morning at a secretive, back-alley speakeasy known as the Nightingale. She's found, if not love, then something like it with her bootlegger sweetheart, Leo, even if she can't quite forget the allure of the Nightingale's sultry owner, Honor Huxley.

Then the husband of a wealthy client is discovered dead in his study, and Vivian was the last known person to see him alive. With the police and the press both eager to name a culprit in the high-profile case, she finds herself the primary murder suspect.

She can’t flee town without endangering the people she loves, but Vivian isn’t the sort of girl to go down without a fight. She'll cash in every favor she has from the criminals she calls friends to prove she had no connection to the dead man. But she can't prove what isn't true.

The more Vivian digs into the man’s life, and as the police close in on her, the harder it is to avoid the truth: someone she knows wanted him dead. And the best way to get away with murder is to set up a girl like Vivian to take the fall.
Visit Katharine Schellman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Note of Warning.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sara E. Davies & Jacqui True's "Hidden Wars"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hidden Wars: Gendered Political Violence in Asia's Civil Conflicts by Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has always been a part of warfare. In Asia, testimonies of egregious rape and sexual violence extend back to the Rape of Nanjing, to the experience of the Korean comfort women in World War II, and to forced marriages and sexual slavery during the Cambodian genocide. The past two decades have yielded crucial new insights about SGBV, but scholars and researchers still struggle to explain why and when this violence occurs. A major problem is that incidences of SGBV are vastly underreported; reliable data is especially scarce in Asia, where demographic and health surveys are infrequent and national reporting systems are underdeveloped relative to other parts of the globe. Asia also has some of the most protracted conflicts in the world but the complexity of subnational conflicts in Asia often masks the gendered dimensions of violence.

In Hidden Wars, Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True examine the relationship between reports of SGBV and structural gender inequality in three conflict-affected societies in Asia--Burma, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Based on extensive field research and an original dataset on conflict-related SGBV, Davies and True show how reporting is significantly constrained by a variety of factors, including normalized gendered violence as well as political dynamics affecting local civil society, humanitarian, and international organizations. They address the real-world limitations of data collection and argue that these constraints reinforce a culture of silence and impunity that perpetuates SGBV and permits governments to abrogate their responsibility for this violence. Hidden Wars breaks new methodological ground in showing that what we know about SGBV can be understood fully only if the politicized context of reporting SGBV and data collection is taken into consideration.
Learn more about Hidden Wars at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hidden Wars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top hitman novels

At B&N Reads Isabelle McConville tagged eight hitman stories you don’t want to miss, including:
Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Feared and revered, this hitman has legendary kills under his belt, but now he’s determined to call it quits. After joining a 12-step program designed for those in his particular profession, Mark is reformed — but just because you decide to leave the job doesn’t mean it lets you go easily…
Read about another book on the list.

Q&A with Rob Hart.

The Page 69 Test: Assassins Anonymous.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Q&A with Alyssa Palombo

From my Q&A with Alyssa Palombo, author of The Assassin of Venice:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Assassin of Venice definitely lets readers know what to expect and what sort of story this is going to be. I think it communicates that the book is going to be a high-stakes thriller in a beautiful and interesting setting. Or that is certainly my hope!

What's in a name?

I don't always have a choice, as sometimes I write about real historical figures, and so in that case I already have their names. But when I do get to choose, my main characters' names have to...[read on]
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Violinist of Venice.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

My Book, The Movie: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

My Book, The Movie: The Borgia Confessions.

Writers Read: Alyssa Palombo (February 2020).

Q&A with Alyssa Palombo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight adventure-filled books set on trains

Sarah Brooks is the author of The Cautious Traveller's Guide to the Wastelands. She won the Lucy Cavendish Prize in 2019 and a Northern Debut Award from New Writing North in 2021. She works in East Asian Studies at the University of Leeds, where she helps run the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing. She is coeditor of Samovar, a bilingual online magazine for translated speculative fiction. She lives in Leeds, England.

At Electric Lit Brooks tagged eight books that have "a sense of adventure, and an exploration of the sometimes contradictory promises of escape and of connection that the railway offers." One title on the list:
Iron Council by China Miéville

Outlandish creatures and gigantic structures have always been a key element in Miéville’s novels, and Iron Council — ‘the perpetual train’ — is no exception. The story is set in the imagined world of Bas-lag, and moves back and forth through time, from the beginnings of train as it sets out to map the land and wipe out its inhabitants to make way for the rails, to the rebellion of the rail workers, and the attempts by a corrupt parliament and militia to destroy such a dangerous symbol of revolution. The ever moving, ever growing train provides great opportunities not only to explore the weird and wonderful landscapes of Bas-Lag, but also the febrile onboard world, with its renegades and ‘Remade’.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Arang Keshavarzian's "Making Space for the Gulf"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Making Space for the Gulf: Histories of Regionalism and the Middle East by Arang Keshavarzian.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Persian Gulf has long been a contested space—an object of imperial ambitions, national antagonisms, and migratory dreams. The roots of these contestations lie in the different ways the Gulf has been defined as a region, both by those who live there and those beyond its shore. Making Space for the Gulf reveals how capitalism, empire-building, geopolitics, and urbanism have each shaped understandings of the region over the last two centuries. Here, the Gulf comes into view as a created space, encompassing dynamic social relations and competing interests. Arang Keshavarzian writes a new history of the region that places Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula together within global processes. He connects moments more often treated as ruptures—the discovery of oil, the Iranian Revolution, the rise and decline of British empire, the emergence of American power—and crafts a narrative populated by a diverse range of people—migrants and ruling families, pearl-divers and star architects, striking taxi drivers and dethroned rulers, protectors of British India and stewards of globalized American universities. Tacking across geographic scales, Keshavarzian reveals how the Gulf has been globalized through transnational relations, regionalized as a geopolitical category, and cleaved along national divisions and social inequalities. When understood as a process, not an object, the Persian Gulf reveals much about how regions and the world have been made in modern times. Making Space for the Gulf offers a fresh understanding of this globally consequential place.
Learn more about Making Space for the Gulf at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Making Space for the Gulf.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Yoon Ha Lee reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Yoon Ha Lee, author of Moonstorm.

The entry begins:
The last book I read was an ARC of James S. A. Corey’s The Mercy of Gods. I knew I was going to like this, as I enjoyed The Expanse, but I did not expect to be snarling carnivorously at everyone who came in between me and my reading experience! Besides, my catten is better at carnivorous snarling anyway. (Kidding. She is a giant round marshmallow.)

I’m betraying my age, but The Mercy of Gods is like the best parts of William Sleator’s supremely creepy psychology experiment children’s horror novel House of Stairs if you mashed it up with the far-flung alien empires in C. J. Cherryh books like Hunter of Worlds and The Faded Sun, and added heavy doses of microbiology, ineffable mystery, and body horror. We start with a planet settled by humans, but to which humans are not native; the humans themselves have no idea how they got there. On the eve of a triumph in microbiology research, that world becomes the latest conquest by aliens who rate other species as (a) useful (b) extinct.

This book absolutely grabbed me because the authors take the opening gambit of telling us, from the viewpoint of an alien, that the humans...[read on]
About Moonstorm, from the publisher:
In a society where conformity is valued above all else, a teen girl training to become an Imperial pilot is forced to return to her rebel roots to save her world in this adrenaline-fueled sci-fi adventure—perfect for fans of Iron Widow and Skyward!

Hwa Young was just ten years old when imperial forces destroyed her rebel moon home. Now, six years later, she is a citizen of the very empire that made her an orphan.

Desperate to shake her rebel past, Hwa Young dreams of one day becoming a lancer pilot, an elite group of warriors who fly into battle using the empire’s most advanced tech—giant martial robots. Lancers are powerful, and Hwa Young would do anything to be the strong one for once in her life.

When an attack on their boarding school leaves Hwa Young and her classmates stranded on an imperial space fleet, her dreams quickly become a reality. As it turns out, the fleet is in dire need of pilot candidates, and Hwa Young—along with her brainy best friend Geum, rival Bae, and class clown Seong Su—are quick to volunteer.

But training is nothing like what they expected, and secrets—like the fate of the fleet’s previous lancer squad and hidden truths about the rebellion itself—are stacking up. And when Hwa Young uncovers a conspiracy that puts their entire world at risk, she’s forced to make a choice between her rebel past and an empire she’s no longer sure she can trust.
Visit Yoon Ha Lee's website.

The Page 69 Test: Revenant Gun.

Writers Read: Yoon Ha Lee (June 2018).

My Book, The Movie: Ninefox Gambit.

Q&A with Yoon Ha Lee.

The Page 69 Test: Fox Snare.

Writers Read: Yoon Ha Lee (October 2023).

My Book, The Movie: Moonstorm.

The Page 69 Test: Moonstorm.

Writers Read: Yoon Ha Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2024

Five top jailhouse confessional novels

Carol LaHines’s debut novel, Someday Everything Will All Make Sense, was a finalist for the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel and an American Fiction Award. Her fiction has appeared in literary journals including Fence, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Denver Quarterly, Cimarron Review, The Literary Review, The Laurel Review, North Dakota Quarterly, South Dakota Review, The South Carolina Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Sycamore Review, Permafrost, redivider, Literary Orphans, and Literal Latte.

LaHines’s new novel is The Vixen Amber Halloway.

At CrimeReads the author tagged five jailhouse confessional novels, including:
Cracks, by Sheila Kohler

Cracks, by Sheila Kohler, is a marvelous example of an apologia for crimes earlier committed. The novel opens as former students of a girls’ boarding school in South Africa are returning for a reunion. We learn that there is a classmate who is no longer there; that there is a teacher who left under hazy circumstances. We realize that something is amiss, that something occurred that the women are trying to cover up. The effect is magnified in Cracks because there are multiple voices—the chorus of schoolgirls, each with her own perspective on the ancient crime. Like Nabokov, her protagonists lure us in; we want to believe them, to absolve them. The two-storyline setup allows Kohler to prolong the suspense, to reach a feverish crescendo, before we learn the truth—if there is such a thing—of what actually transpired.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue