Staff Picks - 2012 May

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Staff Picks May 2012 (622KB)
MAY FEATURE
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French. In 1937 Peking, the brutal murder of a young British woman unleashed a firestorm of intrigue, evasion and superstition as a Japanese invasion threatened the power factions controlling China. A richly atmospheric, true-life mystery. ~ Alden Graves

Following the failure of a joint investigation by a British detective and a Chinese policeman, the victim's father, after much research and emotional and financial cost, pieced together the most likely solution. ~ Sarah Knight

Seventy years later, French discovered the files and solved the case. Excellent historical research portrays the social and political turmoil of the era. A terrific read. ~ Louise Jones
FICTION
Bring Up the BodiesBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. The superb sequel to the 2009 Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall. With Henry VIII now tired of Anne Boleyn, his Secretary Thomas Cromwell must manipulate the downfall of Anne and her influential family - while the adherents of the next queen, Jane Seymour, wait to grab power. ~ Louise Jones Prague FatalePrague Fatale: A Bernie Gunther Novel by Philip Kerr. The latest in Kerr's outstanding series of historical thrillers set in Hitler's Germany. In 1941 Gunther, the reluctant investigator, is forced to accompany powerful Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich to a house party near Prague. The background is the eventually successful assassination of Heydrich – with horrifying consequences. ~ Louise Jones Elegy for EddieElegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. The latest Maisie Dobbs mystery finds our intrepid sleuth investigating the death of a man from her childhood. As Maisie digs deeper, the body count rises and the suspects get higher on the social ladder. A superb addition to this series. ~ Sarah Teunissen
The Lola QuartetThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. A stylish tale how the lives of four friends, who were in a high school jazz group, have played out over the next ten years. Mandel is a skilled storyteller and her novel reads like an edgy jazz composition. Very entertaining. ~ Sarah Knight HHhHHHhH by Laurent Binet. During the Second World War, a pair of Czech resistance fighters plot the assassination of "Hitler's Hangman." A true story that becomes a cautionary tale about making fiction from history. ~ Charles Bottomley The House of Velvet and GlassThe House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe. When a woman and her daughter are lost in the Titanic disaster, it sets off a traumatic - and mystical - chain of events in their Boston family. Atmospheric and compulsively readable – with a neat twist that may catch you off-guard. ~ Alden Graves
The Patrick Melrose NovelsThe Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn. The decline of the British aristocracy – and well-deserved if this group of dreadful characters is typical! St. Aubyn is an elegant writer, sardonic and witty, his novels totally engrossing. The series final is the new At Last. ~ Louise Jones Suddenly, a Knock on the DoorSuddenly, A Knock at the Door by Etgar Keret. Keret's turf includes a land where lies become real and goldfish can grant dreams. It's tempting to invoke Kafka or Gogol– Keret is a fabulist of stunning originality. ~ Charles Bottomley Clara and Mr. TiffanyClara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. Another great story from Vreeland about historical figures in the arts. A fascinating portrait of the life and times of the woman who contributed so many design ideas to the Tiffany Company, including the concept of the stained glass lampshade. Marvelous! ~ Karen Frank
Rain DragonRain Dragon by Jon Raymond. One of America's finest young writers scores big with his new novel - a fable about a utopian farming commune that falls prey to 21st century economics. Bold and haunting! ~ Charles Bottomley Dream of Ding VillageDream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke. When AIDS hits a rural village, the true nature of its inhabitants comes to the fore. A savage satire of modern China that deserves to stand alongside Lord of the Flies or Animal Farm. ~ Charles Bottomley
The Passage of PowerThe Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro. AT LAST! Volume 4 in the acclaimed study of a president who certainly merits some dispassionate reconsideration. Superlatives too numerous to mention for all four works. Arguably the finest multivolume biography of an American president ever written - and nearly impossible to stop reading. Highest Recommendation. ~ Bill Lewis Winter KingWinter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn. Ruthless, vindictive, manipulative, paranoid, Henry VII had dubious claim to the throne, but – a micromanager and firm executive with an iron will – he was arguably England's first modern king. If you've read about Henry VII's son and granddaughter, you'll want to meet the founding father. ~ Louise Jones Folks, This Ain't NormalFolks, This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin. We have come to accept so many strange things as normal! Salatin sheds light on our over-processed, over-packaged, overregulated modern culture and offers some interesting alternatives. Just ignore everything he says about a woman's role in society. ~ Krysta Piccoli
God's JuryGod's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy. No one may have expected the Spanish Inquisition, nor the earlier Medieval or later Roman Inquisitions, whose censorship policies still reverberate. Methods to uncover and punish heretics were adapted by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and our own search for terrorists. Clearly written, well researched, chilling - fascinating! ~ Louise Jones The Mark InsideThe Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con by Amy Reading. Rollicking story about a Texas rancher who falls victim to a "scheme," a "swindle," a "con"- and determines to get even. Colorful characters galore, thrilling chase scenes, battles and danger (and comedy) around every corner. Irresistible for fans of The Devil in the White City. ~ Bill Lewis
Crossing the Borders of TimeCrossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed by Leslie Maitland. Enter Janine's world - both the old and the new. You won't forget her story or that of her family as they endure a murderous war and try to move forward in a world haunted by the most profound tragedies, crimes and losses. A rare reading experience. ~ Bill Lewis Why Spencer Perceval Had to DieWhy Spencer Perceval Had to Die: The Assassination of a British Prime Minister by Andro Linklater. Examination of the violent death of the only British prime minister to be assassinated - in 1812 during a volatile time in English history. Although it seemed initially the work of a single disgruntled businessman, Perceval's murder revealed dark overtones of his divisive politics. ~ Alden Graves
Oklahoma CityOklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed – and Why It Still Matters by Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles. This riveting examination of the most devastating domestic terrorist attack in US history shows that the conspiracy was far more wideranging than we were led to believe; many people with prior knowledge of the bombing were never called to account. ~ Alden Graves Are You My Mother?Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. The cartoonist behind the prize-winning Fun Home is back with a memoir about mothers and daughters. A brave and ambitious book that will divide readers, but leave no one unmoved. ~ Charles Bottomley
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