Hello and welcome to A Good Book newsletter, where we get the bald-faced totally shameless self-promotional bits out of the way right up front, before anyone can feel too awkward about it. 

So, yes. Harry Bryant's second book came out this week. Snake Road starts off with Butch Bliss in a cherry-red Mercedes, heading to Mexico with a load of drunk co-eds and a six-foot tree python. You'll just have to come in and get a copy to find out the rest. 

Right. With that out of the way, let's check and see what sort of books we have from big name authors this week.  

First off, we have a new John Grisham book. Camino Winds is a follow-up to 2017's Camino Island, and once again, we've got murder and mayhem in an otherwise peaceful island community. It falls to a handful of mystery aficionados (and retired writers) to suss out the conspiracy behind the murder. Sorry, murders. Because more people die, a massive cover-up is exposed, and even the FBI gets involved as our plucky protagonists uncover an extensive swindle that is going to gut many people's bank accounts. 

On a slightly different note, we also have Danielle Steel's The Wedding Dress, which follows a specific dress through eighty plus years of drama, tumult, and heartbreak. From Paris in the heady days of the 1920s, through the big war and its aftermath, to San Francisco and the tune-in / drop-out days, before ultimately ending up in Silicon Valley, this dress has seen it all. Each generation contributes to the legacy and the continuing bond of family that Steel does so well. 

Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel is out in paperback this week. In Blue Moon, Reacher walks from point to point, hitting people as necessary. There's a mystery, but it's not that complicated. There's a love interest, but it's of passing note. And, in the end, Reacher is on his own again. It's like a familiar episode of a guilty pleasure TV show. Go ahead. We don't mind. We're right there with you. 

Meanwhile, Alexander McCall Smith's second book in the Department of Sensitive Crimes series wanders in this week as well. The Talented Mr. Varg has decidedly more complicated mysteries to solve, and it's up to the intuitionists of Sweden's specialized crime department to crack the case that has everyone else utterly baffled. 

Oh, and if reality is too dry for you, we have Lawrence Wright's The End of October, which, umm, well, the plot is kinda like last week's news, but with higher stakes. No, seriously. Wright is either congratulating himself for being extremely timely, or he's annoyed that the Universe peeked over his shoulder as he was writing this book and thought, "Huh. Yeah, let's do that in 2020. Won't the author be surprised?" 

Stupid Universe. Always showing writers up. 

Anyway, Wright knows his way around geopolitical intrigue and riveting ripped-from-the-headlines stories, as well as knowing all the ins and outs of the nail-biting terror of a modern pandemic. 

How about something a little lighter? Here's Lian Dolan's The Sweeney Sisters. It's a family drama, wherein the patriarch passes and everyone gathers for the reading of the will. There's the proper sister who has managed to keep her sh*t together all these years. There's the willful and creative one, who can't be bothered to figure out how to make a living off her creative efforts, and there's the youngest who is out to take on the whole world as youngest siblings tend to do. Naturally, there's a fourth sister no one knows about—except Dad, of course—and her arrival threatens to upend everything the sisters thought they knew about their father. 

Meanwhile, your non-fiction selection of the week is Walter Thompson-Hernandez's The Compton Cowboys. As it says on the cover, there are cowboys in Compton, which has been known to resemble the Wild West on occasion. The Compton Junior Posse was founded in 1988, and it has been instrumental in preserving the historical legacy of the black man in the opening of the West during the later part of the nineteenth century. Thompson-Hernandez doesn't sugar-coat the difficulties the CJP has faced in the last few years, but he also paints a respectful tribute of the members, their legacy, and the value of hanging out with horses, even in an urban landscape. 

And speaking of cowboys, here's our monthly double dose of William W. Johnstone. 

First up, we have Die With the Outlaws, which is summed up with "no gun, no horse, no water, no food, and no idea how he ended up in the middle of the desert with a bump on his head." There's a super-charged plot machine running in Mr. Johnstone's garage. It's right next to the refrigerated casket where they keep his undead body. There's probably even a flywheel system that makes his arm jerk back and forth with a pen, scratching out the plot notes that the machine generates. 

And there's North of Laramie as well. In this one, Buck Trammel is hunted by outlaws, fighting for justice, and marked for death. Or is that "marked for death, hunted for outlaws, and fighting for justice"? The order's important, you know. Otherwise, it may be the exact plot of another Johnstone book. We can't have that now, can we? 

And since we're wandering through the mass market paperback releases, here's Scarlett Peckham's The Rakess, the first volume in the tempestuous Society of Sirens historical romance series. Keywords in the book description are "hedonistic," "brazen," "scandalous," "notorious," "sexy," and "wanton." You can probably put them in whatever order you like. 

We're distracted by the cover, because either this lady has a really long right leg or she's standing on a footstool. And we're not sure where the dude's other hand is, but man, it's got to be somewhere otherwise there are some laws of physics being violated here. 

Meanwhile, Laird Barron's neo-noir nouveau horror take on the single man against the world series is back with Black Mountain, the second book to feature Alaskan bag man Isaiah Coleridge. Part Thomas Ligotti, part Andrew Vachss, and part Lee Child, Black Mountain is filled with language honed by a scalpel and action infused with eldritch terror. Good stuff, we say. 

And finally, here's Murder Can Confuse Your Chihuahua by Rose Pressey. It is fiction, even though the title might suggest otherwise. It's got murder (obviously), a nervous chihuahua (evidently), a craft fair, and a ghost. Oh, and recipes. And, according to that cover image, the dog is an art critic. This one really has it all. 

Oh, and we're running posts on Facebook several times a week with stock updates on our puzzles. They come in; they go out. They don't even get a chance to sit in the window. You should wander over to FB if you are in need of puzzles. 

Overheard At The Store »»

SERA: What are we doing? 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom-glom-glom.

SERA: They are? 

COLBY: Think of them as canaries . . . 

SERA: But . . . 

ROLLO: Eep. 

GLOM-GLOM: glom!

PODGE (distantly): Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee—

SERA: What is he doing? 

COLBY: Galumphing, I think. 

SERA: In sequins? 

PODGE: (not so distantly): eeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE

SERA: Oh, that's very shiny. 

COLBY: Yeah, you shouldn't look directly at him. You can be struck dumb by the light coming off a spangled otter. 

PODGE: (oh, he's right there now): EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

GLOM-GLOM: glom glom glom. 

COLBY: Right? It's a hundred times worse on a clear day. We're lucky it is cloudy. 

PODGE: (fading a little): EEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee

SERA: How far—

PODGE: (distantly again): eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

ROLLO: Eep. 


COLBY: That's a good time. He's improving. 

SERA: Is he just running and back forth—

COLBY: Galumphing. 

SERA: Is he galumphing back and forth? 

COLBY: He is. 

SERA: For how long? 

COLBY: Well, we're trying to standardize our testing regime, which requires a significant data pool to draw from and—

GLOM-GLOM: glom glom.

COLBY: Yeah, about an hour. 

SERA: And where's Hodge? 

COLBY: He's coming. 

HODGE: (distantly) galumph galumph galumph galumph

SERA: He's—oh, my—he's not as fast as Podge, is he? 

COLBY: Well, he is a bit chunkier in the middle, but . . . 

SERA: No, I mean the—

COLBY: Oh, the outfit. Yeah. It's slowing him down a bit too. 

HODGE: (getting closer, but not nearly as quickly as Podge did): galumph, galumph, GALUMPH, GALUMPH, GALUMPH!

SERA: I thought taffeta was lighter than that. 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom glom glom glom-glom.

COLBY: It is, when you use it sparingly. 

SERA: Oh . . . 

HODGE: (right outside the window): GALUMPH! GALUMPH! <pant pant> GALUPH! GALUMPH! 

SERA: Why are they doing this again? 

COLBY: There's talking of opening the street back up. When else would these two get a chance to see whose quarantine outfit was better? 

SERA: Better for what? 

COLBY: Oh, you know, there's a project I'm thinking about . . .  

SERA: A project? 

COLBY: Well, more of a live-action radio drama . . . 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom. 


COLBY: Yeah, as soon as you finish the pilot, little fellow. 


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