This is exciting. In this week's releases are a number of titles from authors who we have not heard from recently. 

David Mitchell, for one, and this book is called Utopia Avenue. It's a rock 'n' roll novel, but it's also a Mitchell book, so while it seems like it's a rambling peramble through the heady days of being an up-and-coming rock star in '67 London and 'Merica, it's got . . . shadows and echoes wafting through it. There are echoes of his earlier books (of course, this is Mitchell, after all), and strange shadows that keep this from being a straight-up mood piece of a half-remembered childhood. Which is to say, we like it quite a bit. 

Jim Butcher is back this week with half a novel—er, the next Harry Dresden book. After five years, Chicago's only professional wizard is back in Peace Talks, where, naturally, things go off the rails quickly. Dresden—who, in addition to being the only wizard in the phone book, is also a Wizard of the White Council, the Warden of Demonreach, and the Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness—oh, sorry, we just got lost in enumerating all that backstory. Where were we? Oh, yes, there's a lot of backstory, and if you don't know any of it, you'll be glad to know that Peace Talks does its best to catch you up. If you do know the backstory, well . . . the next Dresden novel is out in less than three months. Plan accordingly. 

And speaking of plans going wherever they may, James Patterson (remember him?) has a new standalone thriller out this week. Cajun Justice is the story of Cain Lemaire, an ex-Secret Service fellow who winds up in Tokyo, where he runs afoul of local gangsters. Naturally, the Tokyo underground doesn't know who they are messing with, as they are about to get scored with the only justice that our New Orleans-born Lemaire knows. That's right: cajun justice. 

We'd like to think that this is like a remake of Ridley Scott's Black Rain from a script by James Lee Burke, but . . . 

Anyway, a shout out to Tucker Axum, Patterson's co-author on this book. If sales of Cajun Justice follows standard procedure in Pattersonland, this "standalone" will be rebranded as "first in series" should fan response be appropriate, and Tucker Axum will have a steady gig. Fingers crossed. 

Meanwhile, Stephen Graham Jones's new novel, The Only Good Indians, is going to get under your skin when it's not outright terrifying you. This is a revenge tale, about what happens when four young men do a violent thing and then try to bury the evidence. Ten years pass, and oh dear, that Elk isn't dead. No, no, nosireee. Oh, sorry. No, wait. This is a heartbreakingly gorgeous novel about cultural identity, family, and the disconnect between the two in a land that doesn't want you. Really. We're not trying to pretend that other part of the book isn't there. 

Except it is. See how that Elk is looking at you on the cover? Yeah, now look out the window. Or don't. You're on your own, 'cause we're making a blanket fort in the other room. 

On much safer ground (though no less propulsive, as far as storytelling goes), Daniel Silva's latest Gabriel Allon novel is out. The Order begins with the death of a pope, who was in the process of revealing an ancient secret to his old pal, art restorer and spy Allon. Naturally Allon investigates and discovers that, yes, there is an ancient secret, and, yes, mysterious global organizations are willing to kill to keep that secret all secrety. You can guess what follows. 

And speaking of books that mix fact and fiction in a way that will totally suck you in, Elly Griffith's series starring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is back with The Lantern Men. Griffith ably weaves historical folklore and the spooky sort of regional 'bump in the night' campfire tales around a suspenseful narrative involving bodies yet to be recovered from a serial killer's interrupted reign of terror . . . 

Oh, by the way, we were talking about space westerns the other day, and—what? What's a space western? Well, let's ask John Murphy, who's Red Noise is on the shelf this week. A wandering recluse docks at a dilapidated space station, hoping to sell ore and get supplies. Unfortunately, this station is a corrupt sh*thole in the dankest reaches of frontier space. And when the residents of the station cheat our "just minding my own business, you idiots" space miner, they discover they've just pissed off the wrong person . . . Naturally, stuff blows up. A lot. 

Meanwhile, Kate Mosse has your newest historical thriller obsession. The Burning Chambers whisks us back to France in 1562, where the Catholics and the Huguenots were tearing up the streets. There's an illicit love affair, religious upheaval is in the air, and a feud that will last generations is just starting to get bloody . . . Delicious stuff!

And speaking of delicious stuff, here's David Bainbridge's awesome book about taxonomy. Yes, we realize this sentence made your wrinkle your nose as you attempted to figure out what was delicious about taxonomy, and well, it's all about PUTTING THINGS IN BOXES, for crying out loud. How Zoologists Organize Things: The Art of Classification isn't about animals so much as it is a history of our efforts to PUT THINGS IN BOXES. 

It has charts and graphs, of course, because any respectable history of putting things in boxes has to have charts and graphs. Otherwise, how are you going to follow the progression of these boxes to those boxes and why we stopped using the other boxes? Geez. It's like you never organized anything before. 

Look. You had no idea you needed this book until right now, and that's okay. We didn't know either. But we've seen this one. We've looked at the charts and graphs of boxes. It's marvelous. You might need it. 

Meanwhile, here's Kelli Jo Ford's Crooked Hallelujah, a patchwork novel that follows a Cherokee mother and her daughter. Each section of the novel feels like a self-contained story, but there's a narrative thread throughout that pulls you to an electrifying and ambitious conclusion. 

And let's not forget this week's top political read: Mary L Trump's summation of her uncle, which is titled Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. We see the subtitle is doing all the heavy lifting there, and there's probably no need to explain this book any more than that. 

Finally, here's Charles King's Gods of the Upper Air, which is the story of Franz Boas, who started a fairly significant trend in cultural anthropology, along with his crack squad of fellow researchers: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Ella Deloris, and Zora Neale Hurston. Yeah, this group pretty much changed how we look at culture, both modern and ancient. We're still sorting through their insights. 

Overheard At The Store »»

COLBY: Okay, is everyone ready for our excursion? Hodge: do you have the maps? 

HODGE: I have the maps. 

COLBY: Sera, do you have snacks?

SERA: Yes, I have snacks. All the snacks. I even have—

COLBY: Thank you, Sera. Rollo? 

ROLLO: Eep. 

COLBY: Seriously? 

ROLLO: Eep. 

COLBY: Well, fine. Go, go. We don't want to have any accidents. 

HODGE: I don't understand why he can't—

ROLLO: Eep. 

COLBY: Look, very small animals have very small—

SERA: Shhhh.

COLBY: And it's important for—


COLBY: And if we're going to find Podge we—

SERA: Shush!


SERA: Listen!

COLBY: . . . 

HODGE: . . . 

SERA: Do you hear that? 


HODGE: That sounds like . . . 

<SFX: Wild tingling of the front door bell> 

UNKNOWN: omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

COLBY: What the—? 

UNKNOWN: omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

HODGE: It's—!

UNKNOWN: omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

SERA: Podge!

PODGE: omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

COLBY: What? Slow down! Careful!

PODGE: omgomgomgdidyouseewhatIdid?IwasgoingsoooofaasstttttttIwentintospace! andthenIcamebackandomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

HODGE: Podge! It's you!

PODGE: omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

COLBY: Can you—could you—Podge!

ALL: Podge!

PODGE: What? <pant pant pant pant pant>

HODGE: You're alive!


COLBY: . . . 



PODGE: . . . 

HODGE: Oh, great. Look what you've done. He's wilting. 


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