Six Book Saturday!

We’re having some connectivity issues, beloved patrons, which kept us from posting our traditional Five Book Friday in a timely manner.  In compensation, we now present to you Six Book Saturday, which will introduce you to some of the splendid titles that have waltzed onto our shelves this week, and are very eager to join you in your wintertime adventures!

A Good Day to Marry a DukeFans of American ladies in English society, a trope that Eloisa James and Laura Lee Guhrke have employed so well, will find plenty to enjoy in Betina Krahn’s series opener.  “In 1890, most Americans trying to start a new life are heading west, but Daisy Bumgarten has been sent all the way east: to London, to snag a duke.  Even though the process is humiliating (and boring), she knows she owes it to her three younger sisters to succeed.  Now, under a countess’s tutelage, Daisy appears the perfect duchess-in-training.  That is, until notorious ladies’ man Lord Ashton Graham, a distraction of the most dangerous kind, glimpses her mischievous smile and feisty nature—and attempts to unmask her motives. Daisy has encountered snakes on the range, but one dressed to the nines in an English drawing room is positively unnerving—and maddeningly seductive. When a veiled plot emerges to show up Daisy as unworthy of the aristocracy, will Ashton be her worst detractor? Or the nobleman she needs most of all?  Kirkus Reviews really enjoyed this tale, noting, “The contrast between stuffy London high society and dusty American cowboy culture heightens the humor of the story, and excellent pacing adds just the right amount of suspense….Krahn returns to historical romance with a barn burner of an 1890s love story.”

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder: Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser―the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series―masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.  Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman behind the classic stories that Booklist called “Unforgettable… A magisterial biography, which surely must be called definitive….it is its marriage of biography and history―the latter providing such a rich context for the life―that is one of the great strengths of this indispensable book.”

An Echo of Murder Fans of Anne Perry’s William Monk mysteries will no doubt be delighted to hear that he has returned in an investigation that deals with the prejudices, dangers, and bigotry of the Victorian age.  In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles, their wicks dipped in blood. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London’s Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn’t speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. With the able assistance of his wife—former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders—Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect. But as the body count grows, stirring ever greater fear and anger among the Hungarian émigrés, resistance to the police also increases.   This is a race-against-time mystery steeped in history that The New York Times Book Review called a “rich, if blood-spattered narrative from this chapter of history. As the murders [of Hungarians] continue, Monk and his clever wife, Hester . . . struggle to fathom the new climate of hatred. ‘I think it’s fear,’ Hester says. ‘It’s fear of ideas, things that aren’t the way you’re used to. Everyone you don’t understand because their language is different, their food, but above all their religion.’ How times haven’t changed.”

The People Vs. Alex Cross: And speaking of fan-favorite investigators, Alex Cross is also back in a mystery that puts him on the wrong side of the law for the first time in his career.  Charged with gunning down followers of his nemesis Gary Soneji in cold blood, Cross is being turned into the poster child for trigger-happy cops who think they’re above the law. Cross knows it was self-defense. But will a jury see it that way? But even as Cross fights for his professional life and his freedom, his former partner John Sampson brings him a gruesome, titillating video tied to the mysterious disappearances of several young girls. Despite his suspension from the department, Cross can’t say no to Sampson. The illicit investigation leads them to the darkest corners of the Internet, where murder is just another form of entertainment.  It’s the trial of the century, and Alex Cross is in the crosshairs once again.  With several engrossing plot lines and a heaping helping of tension–along with some fascinating insight into the mind one of his most well-known characters, this book proves why it is so easy for author Ian Rankin to say in his cover blurb “James Patterson is The Boss. End of.”

Bunk : the rise of hoaxes, humbug, plagiarists, phonies, post-facts, and fake news: Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon–the legacy of P.T. Barnum’s ‘humbug’ culminating with the currency of Donald J. Trump’s ‘fake news’. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, with race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and ‘What Is It?’, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution. Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time. This brilliant and timely work asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of ‘truthiness’ where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.  Young has earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly for this work, which noted “Young chronicles a distinctly American brand of deception in this history of hoaxers, fabricators, liars, and imposters. . . . [He] astutely declares the hoax a frequent metaphor for a ‘deep-seated cultural wish’ that confirms prejudicial ideas and stereotypes.”

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau : a historical thriller: From Booker Prize shortlisted author Graeme Macrae Burnet comes another mystery with a startling twist and keen character insight that is as gripping as it is unsettling.  Manfred Baumann is a loner. Socially awkward and perpetually ill at ease, he spends his evenings quietly drinking and surreptitiously observing Adèle Bedeau, the sullen but alluring waitress at a drab bistro in the unremarkable small French town of Saint-Louis. One day, she simply vanishes into thin air and Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate the girl’s disappearance. He sets his sights on Manfred.  As Manfred cowers beneath Gorski’s watchful eye, the murderous secrets of his past begin to catch up with him and his carefully crafted veneer of normalcy falters. Burnet’s masterful play on literary form featuring an unreliable narrator makes for a grimly entertaining psychological thriller that NPR called “”A stylish, atmospheric mystery with a startling twist . . . satisfies like Simenon and surprises like Ruth Rendell.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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