If you are feeling a bit ambivalent about books and life and all the things this week, we'd like to point you to Thomas Moynihan's Spinal Catastrophism: A Secret History, which came out this week. The seventh in a philosophically minded series from Urbanomic, Spinal Catastrophism examines "multiform encounters between philosophy, psychology, biology, and geology." What? you say. Tell me more! you say. Very well, here's some of the marketing copy. 

Tracing its provenance through the biological notions of phylogeny and "organic memory" that fueled early psychoanalysis, back into idealism, nature philosophy, and romanticism, and across multiform encounters between philosophy, psychology, biology, and geology, Thomas Moynihan reveals the historical continuity of spinal catastrophism. From psychoanalysis and myth to geology and neuroanatomy, from bioanalysis to chronopathy, from spinal colonies of proto-minds to the retroparasitism of the CNS, from "railway spine" to Elizabeth Taylor's lost gill-slits, this extravagantly comprehensive philosophical adventure uses the spinal cord as a guiding thread to rediscover forgotten pathways in modern thought.

There's no room for ambivalence with this one. You're either in the "Wow! I need this book now!" camp, or you'll be in the "Uh, doesn't James Patterson have a new book out this week?" camp. 

Well, as a matter of fact, he does! In a bit of a switcheroo, we have The Cornwalls Vanish (co-written with Brendan DuBois), which was previously titled The Cornwalls Are Gone. A very precise semantic difference, but an important one, we suspect.

Also, who doesn't love blatant marketing copy like that? "You are about to devour a terrific thriller." Why, yes, James, I am. I most certainly am. If you're ambivalent about it—well, is it truly a terrific book? or I'm not sure I'm ready to devour anything—then this book probably isn't for you.  

Meanwhile, Elly Griifiths is back with her Magic Men series. This time, though, it's the ladies who are doing the marvelous sleuthing. With Now You See Them, Griffith pulls the series ahead ten years, dropping it into the midst of Beatlemania in Britian, where young women are going missing. Emma Stephens, who has been quietly lamenting the lack of crime-fighting in her career, returns to sleuthing. Along with her daughter, Marianne, she tries to solve the case before more bodies show up. 

And speaking of bodies showing up, Christopher Fowler's irascible detecting duo Bryant and May are back for the latest adventure of the Peculiar Crime Unit, who always seems to catch the, um, well, the peculiar ones. In The Lonely Hour, Bryant and May are dodging bats, insomniacs, and men wearing pig masks in the efforts to bring a particularly ghoulish murder to justice. Naturally, things get stranger from there. 

And speaking of stranger things, how about an illustrated version of The Mueller Report? If the dry language of Robert Mueller's report on his special investigation have left you cold, maybe what you need is an illustrated version. Cleverly done up in black, white, and yellow, The Mueller Report Illustrated: The Obstruction Investigation transforms the dusty transcripts into riveting talking heads drama. 

On a slightly more offbeat and quirky note, Agatha Raisin is back this week. M. C. Beaton's famously cranky detective Agatha Raisin returns in Beating About the Bush. This one has a severed leg, a wonky donkey, a strange PR campaign, and corporate malfeasance. Beaton knows just how to stir the pot for a rewarding and hilarious read. 

Meanwhile, Charles Soule is back with Anyone. Soule wrote an interesting near future SF novel called The Oracle Year a while back, and he's tackling the near future again with Anyone. This time around, the premise is human consciousness can be transported between bodies. Naturally, this becomes both thrilling and terrifying (when you start to extrapolate some of the effects of doing this), and Soule tackles it all really nicely. There's a steady emotional story that runs through all the whizz-bang bits. Recommended. 

And speaking of recommendations, we've got stock of G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes in again. We mentioned the first book a while back (that would be A Study in Brimstone), and since then G. S. has been dutifully cranking out more. And by "dutifully," we mean "What the heck? There are four of these now?" And by "cranking," we mean "Four! Count 'em! Four! Almost five!" These are hysterical, dear readers. We want to stand around and read our favorite bits out loud to each other and laugh all over again, so get a-reading, will you? It's not every day that someone writes a fabulously affectionate pastiche of Sherlock Holmes as a demon-haunted idiot, you know. 

And speaking of haunted narrators, T. Kingfisher's The Twisted Ones is a book that is going to sink its claws into you and not let go. It starts simply enough: a woman goes to her late grandmother's remote North Carolina home to clean it out after grandma's death. She finds a journal belonging to her step-grandfather, and that's when things start to unravel. The journal contains some pretty terrifying stories, and the more our protagonist reads, the more the events of the journal start to happen again. Oh, and you can't turn these pages fast enough. Not because you want to see things get worse (and they do), but because you hope that there's something resembling a happy ending out there . . . 

And speaking of happy endings, we'd like to remind you that cats need education too. Just because they have nine lives is no reason to forgo having those important talks with your furry friends about things like gun control, evolution, abstinence, and Satanism (among other things). Now, if you don't feel comfortable having these talks with your cat, there is a helpful guidebook to give you some tips on how to start these conversations. 

You're welcome. 

Overheard At The Store »»

HODGE: Here it is!

COLBY: That's . . . that's a pizza. That's not a box of crackers. 

HODGE: I know. I know. But it smelled so good. And I was—I was hungry. 

PODGE: Is that pizza?

HODGE: It is! I brought pizza!

PODGE: But I'm way up here. Toss a piece—

COLBY: There will be no pizza-flinging. Not in this store. 

HODGE: But . . .


SERRA: Does it have mushrooms on it? I like mushrooms. 

ROLLO: I like mushrooms too. 

HODGE: There are mushrooms! And olives! And peppers. And—

COLBY: Is there bacon on it? 

HODGE: . . . 

SERRA: . . . 

ROLLO: . . . 

PODGE: Why is everyone staring at the marmot? 

COLBY: I was just teasing. 

PODGE: What? What was he teasing about? Is it the pizza? Why is that pizza so far away from me? 

HODGE: We could make a catapult! Or a trebuchet! There's a book in the craft section about how to build your own. 

COLBY: We are not building medieval siege weaponry. All we need is a stick and some string. 

SERRA: I know where to find a stick!

ROLLO: I have some string. 

COLBY: Well, go get them. Podge isn't going to rescue himself. 

[Exit Serra and Rollo]

HODGE: There's no bacon on this pizza. 

COLBY: I know there isn't. 

HODGE: I wouldn't order a pizza with bacon. That's just . . . that's just wrong. 

COLBY: I wasn't suggesting otherwise. 

HODGE: How can you be so flippant at a time like this? When our dear friend Podge is trapped—trapped!—on that high shelf. 

COLBY: That pizza smells really good. Can you smell it up there, Podge?

PODGE: <wailing noise>

COLBY: He can smell it. 

HODGE: It is very hot and fresh. 

COLBY: We should have some. 

HODGE: Don't you think we should wait? 

COLBY: For what? It's not going to get any hotter or fresher. 

HODGE: That is true. 

PODGE: But but but what about meeeeeee?

COLBY: Oh, that's a lot of cheese. 

HODGE: <munching noises> Sfrrry guuud.

COLBY: And these vegetables! So tasty. 

PODGE: I can smell it!

COLBY: You should come down here and have some. 

PODGE: But I'm trapped on this shelf.

COLBY: It's hot and tasty. 

PODGE: But I'm—

COLBY: Oh, slow down there, Hodge. Save some for Serra and Rollo. 

PODGE: And me! Save some for me!

HODGE: Ooorrffh. Shoood <munching noises> 

COLBY: Wow. I've never seen an otter inhale pizza like that. 

PODGE: Nooooooooo!

COLBY: Are you going to come down and have some, Podge? 

PODGE: Butbutbutbutbut

COLBY: Wow. Four pieces left. This is going—

<SFX: Crashing noises>

PODGE: Oof. 

HODGE: Pudddggg!

COLBY: You okay there, little fella? 

<Serra and Rollo return>

SERRA: I have a stick!

ROLLO: I have—what happened to the pizza? 

COLBY: Otters. 

SERRA: Podge! You're not on the shelf anymore! How did that happen? 

PODGE: Orfff. Grorof. 

COLBY: Pizza happened.


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