You'll have to excuse us for a few minutes. We need to finish up the new Slough House novella from Mick Herron. 

It's been a bit since The List, when retired spook Dieter Hess came to an unfortunate end. Life got a little complicated for his MI5 handler, John Bachelor, in The Drop, and now in The Catch, we get to see another layer of the game spooks play, as the net closes in on Bachelor. Oh, and as a side note, we'll probably meet the next unfortunate desk jockey who will do something utterly stupid that will send them to Slough House. Unfortunately, it'll be awhile before we get a full-on novel, but in the meantime, perhaps Apple TV will get their production up and running. 

Hello, and welcome to the A Good Book newsletter, where we pretend it's like visiting Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and you've just caught us reading something fun. 

Speaking of fun, do you know what else is out this week? Paul Krugman's Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics and the Fight for a Better Future. 

Now, Paul's got a Nobel Prize in economics and he knows his way around a phrase or two, so we can expect this tome to be both engaging and instructional. Culled from essays he's written for The New York Times over the past decade, Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future (or, AWZEPFBF, for short—which is probably the sound your brain makes as it tries to parse something like canaried debt-shard collateral-swaps) covers what Krugman calls "zombie ideas," or "those foolish misconceptions that will eat your brains because you're not paying attention to the source of this nonsense."  

Which is to say: Krugman has a definite stance on modern economic theory and the political march to self-immolation that some parts of this current administration appears to be undertaking. Plan accordingly. 

Meanwhile, still fresh from hitting the top of the bestsellers' list last week, James Patterson is back with the mass market paperback release of the eleventh book in the Michael Bennett series. In this one, New York's top cop must fight off not one, but two! drug cartels. 

Whew. It is the end of the month, by the way, which means mass market paperbacks. Which also means William W. "Not As Dead As You Think" Johnstone is shoving books out of his industrial book-making machinery. 

That's right. Shot to Hell is the next installment of the Perley Gates saga, wherein Mr.  Gates (that Johnstonian hero with the "heavenly name and the hellish task of living up to it") must right all the wrongs and do all the good in the name of frontier justice. 

Also, we'd like to note that the entirety of our distribution system's marketing notes for this book is "includes an excerpt to that other William W. Johnstone book available this week." 

Which we can summarize as "Like Perley Gates, but behind bars!" 

Meanwhile, Lana Popovic takes on the historical narrative of Elizabeth Báthory in Blood Countess. Young Anna, adept with various herbs and remedies, comes into the Hungarian Countess's court, where she rises to some prominence. And then she catches the Countess's eye, whereupon things get very, very bloody. Gothic romance for the win! 

And speaking of unexpected team-ups, Karen Slaughter and Lee Child have co-written Cleaning the Gold, a story staring their two series characters. Will Trent is undercover at Fort Knox, investigating a cold case. Jack Reacher is not undercover because Jack Reacher can't be bothered to hide his identity. However, Reacher's implacable presence makes Trent think there's something else going on. There is, but it's not Reacher doing terrible things (well, only to those who deserve it). 

Once these two rock-heads figure out that they're on the same side, they team up! Two heads are better than one! Four fists are better than two! You get the idea. 

And speaking of hardheadedness and fisticuffs, one of our favorite books from last year is out in paperback now. It's Dan Stroud's gloriously gritty Titanshade, and yes, that is a '80s cop show cover slapped on a noir fantasy novel because dear readers, that is exactly what this is. It's NYPD Blue meets, uh, something that Andy Warhol might have imagined if he had been hired to do an adult version of The Dark Crystal. 

What? You totally know what we mean. 

Anyway, this new edition of Titanshade comes with these words "The Carter Archive: Book One," which makes us deliriously happy. 

Meanwhile, Vendetta Road, the latest episode of Christine Feehan's Torpedo Ink series, suffers from excessively beveled letters and overly marinated title treatments on its cover, which overshadows all the vigilante bikers and "copious amounts of public sex" (as per Publishers Weekly) within. 

And yes, if "it's full of vigilante bikers and copious amounts of public sex" isn't enough to sell you on this book, maybe we should just move on to something else, okay? 

Here we have Yellow Earth, which is filmmaker John Sayles's delightful return to fiction writing. Sayles, who has managed a lengthy career as an well-respected director of surprisingly emotional pictures about people, has written a book about greed, hope, and natural responsibility. When shale oil deposits are discovered around the moribund city of Yellow Earth, North Dakota, all hell breaks loose. 

Hang on. That's not us being lazy about our efforts to not say "and then things went awry." "All hell breaks loose" is from the publisher's summary. It's okay for us to use that. So, yes, oil found. Townsfolk rejoice. Oil folk show up. Hell ensues. 

It's Sayles, though, which means it's got a glib eye for satire, a keen sense of historical imperative, and a emphatic understanding of the plight of the locals (both homegrown and native). 

And finally, we have Simon Parkin's A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II. The short backstory is this: during WWII, German subs were sinking a lot of ships in the Atlantic, and it fell to a pack of volunteers from the Women's Royal Navy Service to devise a ballroom-sized version of "Battleship" in order to plot the movement of German submarines. Game theory versus submarine tactics! Parkin approaches his material with a novelist's flair, delivering a well-research story that crackles with intensity and urgency. 

Overheard At The Store »»

NADIA: It's that time of year again. 

COLBY: What? Really? I thought we did this last year. 

NADIA: We did do it last year. But we need to do it again. 


NADIA: Compliance. 

COLBY: I'm not very compliant. 

NADIA: I know, which is why you get to do it. 

COLBY: That's—that's not how such things work. 

NADIA: Call it passive-aggressive management. 

COLBY: . . .

NADIA: Or I could dock your pay. 

COLBY: You don't pay me. 

NADIA: In that case, how about I start charging you? 

COLBY: I still don't think you understand how this all works. 

NADIA: Whatever motivates you is what works, marmot. 

COLBY: Fine. Where's the paperwork? 

NADIA: Oh, it's all online now. You can use the machine in the back. 

COLBY: <grump grump grump>

NADIA: And stop shedding when you grump like that!

COLBY: <grump>

<SFX: Computer spinning up. 8-bit musical intro>

HOLIPOT: Welcome to Autonomous Employees Hand-Selling Systems. My name is Holipot. I'll be your guide today during your compliancy intake session. 

COLBY: <grump>

HOLIPOT: Please note that the AEHSS system is not attenuated for monosyllabic responses. Frame all responses as coherent and grammatically correct sentences. 

COLBY: You are a pain in my ass. 

HOLIPOT: Thank you for your compliance assessment baseline response. All further responses will be graded in accordance to the severity, temporality, and tonality of this baseline. Would you like to record a new baseline? 

COLBY: I would like the heat death of the universe to be visited upon us. 

HOLIPOT: Thank you for accepting your previously offered baseline. We shall now begin. 

COLBY: Can I expire from a decided lack of interest first? 

HOLIPOT: Note that compliance assessment intake sessions cannot be paused, broached, fabricated, gesticulated, abbreviated, or inundated in any form. If such occlusion occurs, your intake session will be invalidated and you will have to start over. Please do not be the sort of employee who starts things over. 

COLBY: I wouldn't dream of it. 

HOLIPOT: Excellent. We shall now begin part one of forty-two . . . 



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