We are going to range about the bookstore this week, so strap some chaps on.
First, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Last week, we couldn’t tell you what the surprise political title was going to be. Mostly because we didn’t know what it was either. But now that Omarosa Manigault Newman is making the rounds on all the shows with talking heads this week, we guess that the embargo has been lifted. So, huzzah! Here is this week’s sordid tell-all of life in the White House.
As you can imagine, Omarosa’s Unhinged is kind of like that mid-season, scenery-chewing, muck-racking, family feud that gets touted across the airwaves leading into sweeps week. “More gnashing of teeth than Shark Week!” “You think your house is a mess; check out this week’s episode on What’s on Fire At The White House.”
Terrible sordid. We have copies. We feel no shame in leading off this way.
But hey, this is sort of stuff has been going on for years, as Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz are here to attest this week with Scarface and the Untouchable, a truly massive historical project about Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the battle for Chicago. Max—who has written about a zillion crime novels over the years, which include a couple starring Mr. Ness, as well as a book called Road to Perdition, which got turned into a little film by Sam Mendes and starring Tom Hanks—is a bit of a Untouchable buff, and this project has always been something in the back of his mind. It took the effusive enthusiasm of A. Brad Schwartz (who is currently getting his doctorate in American history at Princeton) to turn the “oh, I’ll get to it someday” idea into a “oh, let’s set the record straight once and for all” plan.
And speaking of plans, if you need some ideas about what to do with that old school bus you’ve got out in the field behind your house, Kimberly Mok has some suggestions. Marrying the best of the Tiny House movement to a drive train and some wheels, Mok has put together a great little book on building a mobile home out of an old bus, and we have to admit that we’re sorely tempted by the idea.
And speaking of home life, we’re putting Louise Candlish’s Our House in the coveted spot of “Domestic Thriller of the Week.” A while back, Candlish had a clever idea about property theft and started working on Our House, which is the story of a couple who are in the process of separating when one discovers the other has done some foolish things about the family house. It’s a bit of domestic noir mixed in with what the hipsters are calling “Friday afternoon fraud.”
And speaking of what the hipsters are doing, we’re going to get ahead of the buzz and say that Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing is going to be a topic of conversation this fall. The story of a wild creature known as the “Marsh Girl,” Where the Crawdads Sing is part coming-of-age novel, part lyrical exploration of a time and place that have disappeared, and part page-turning whodunit. It’s like Barbara Kingsolver and James Lee Burke decided to co-write a book about the shores and swamps of North Carolina.
And because everyone has read James Patterson’s last collaborative effort, he’s back this week with Texas Ranger: Officer Rory Yates comes home—to a murder charge & Andrew Bourelle.
Look, we have a bit of an issue with excessive subtitling on books, but this is a little much. Plus, we have some many questions. Why is Andrew Bourelle waiting at Rory Yates’s home? And does Bourelle know that Yates is a trained professional? It’s not safe for this Bourelle character to be rooting around the refrigerator while he waits, right? And who is charged with murder?
Oh, wait. We read that wrong. The book is Texas Ranger. It’s by James Patterson AND Andrew Bourelle. “Office Rory Yates comes home—to a murder charge” is the pitch line. Ooooh. Now it makes sense. Sorry. We’re booksellers. We’re used to covers like this, which list things in recognizable order.
Anyway, while we’re talking about fast-paced thrillers, let’s tarry for a moment on Martín Solares’s Don’t Send Flowers.
Solares has been writing noir in Mexico for awhile now, and Don’t Send Flowers takes us on a explosive journey through cartel-controlled lands as retired police detective Carlos Treviño searches for the daughter of a missing businessman. Naturally, there’s a federal police officer with a grudge to settle and who knows how many cartel operatives lying in wait for Treviño as he doggedly pursues his investigation.
Meanwhile, over here, we’ve got S. K. Perry’s debut novel, Let Me Be Like Water, which is a moving exploration of grief as seen through the eyes of a young woman whose world is shaken when her dear boyfriend suddenly passes. The young woman moves to the seaside where she stares at the waves for a bit. Eventually. she is drawn into a book club which helps provide her some much needed support and distance from the tragedy in her life.
We won’t belabor the obvious bit about how book clubs change lives, because we all know that, right?
Perry was long listed for London’s Young Poet Laureate a few years ago, and her previous book was a collection of well-received poetry. As you can imagine, Let Me Be Like Water is filled with exquisite language and has a structure that is more in keeping with the lyrical format of poetry than a strictly plot-by-numbers narrative. Which, to Ms. Perry’s credit, makes this book more like an experience you share than one you merely read about.
And speaking of lyrical writing, Linnea Hartsuyker is back with The Sea Queen, the sequel to last year’s bloodthirsty family saga, The Half-Drowned King. More Vikings! More family betrayals! More blood-slick seas! And through it all weaves Svanhild Eysteinsdatter, the wild-haired sea queen who broke hearts and heads with equal aplomb in the first novel, and her politically motivated brother, Ragnvald, who has his sights set on ensuring that King Harald achieves the crown that is prophesied to be his. No matter the cost.
On a completely unrelated note, we have Bravetart, a collection of iconic American desserts by Stella Parks. We’re just going to crib from J. Kenji López-Alt’s description of Ms. Parks, because it certainly strikes the right tone: “I am convinced that Stella is the result of a biological accident where a lab technician dropped Betty Crocker, Ernie the Keebler Elf, Mr. Wizard, and Fannie Farmer’s DNA samples into an incubator and out emerged a living, breathing pastry goddess.”
There you go. Pastry Goddess + Iconic American Desserts = Pages of Treats You Can Bake and Bring to Your Local Booksellers.
And finally, we have Brian Lies’s The Rough Patch, a winsome picture book about a fox and his dog. It is going to wreck you. Seriously. We won’t say more than that, but you should page through it when you are in the store.
We’ll have Kleenex handy.