Sunday, July 31, 2022

Eight unconventional coming-of-age horror novels

Born in North Carolina, raised in Arizona, and now residing in New York, Nat Cassidy in an award-winning playwright, director, actor, musician, and author.

His new novel is Mary: An Awakening of Terror.

At CrimeReads Cassidy tagged eight "coming-of-age horror novels that aren’t about teenagerhood." One title on the list:
The Return, by Rachel Harrison

As I said at the top, the first thing most people probably think of when it comes to coming-of-age horror stories is kids on bikes. A key element to the subgenre is the friend group. Our friends are how we mark our own growth, as well as how we understand our place in the world—and as Stephen King, the post-Bradbury Pope of Coming-of-Age Horror Fiction himself said, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?” The answer to that question is no. But the same question could be asked about the friends you have in your 20s, and that answer just might be ‘no, and thank god.’ Our college-era friends know a very specific version of ourselves, and the friendships from that age that last are likely to be among life’s strongest. That’s where Rachel Harrison’s brilliant novel comes in. It explores the uniquely complicated dynamics of the friend group that crosses from late adolescence into adulthood: what it’s like when they start to make more money than you, start to be able to hang out in different ways than you can, start to get married, start to move past you. You all still have the same references—and have likely seen each other at your most pathetic and broken—but life starts taking you in different directions and turning you into new people. The Return’s depictions of that brutal, confusing, painful transition into Real Adulthood are no less harrowing than the more supernatural horrors that follow.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Ten indispensable black, queer, & feminist coming-of-age titles

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is the author of The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora (2021), the short story collection, Blue Talk and Love (2015), winner of the Judith Markowitz Award for Fiction from Lambda Literary, and the new novel Big Girl.

Sullivan is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses in African American poetry and poetics, Black queer and feminist literatures, and creative writing. She lives in Washington, DC.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten "indispensable stories of Black, feminist, and LGBTQ+ coming of age," including:
Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez

In nine short stories, Rodriguez tracks the coming-of-age experiences of several generations of Puerto Rican girls with exquisite humor and heart. Through her narrators’ eyes, we see the power of friendship, the quiet danger of blindly accepting inherited standards of womanhood, and the beauty of finding your way to adulthood with a crew of irreverent homegirls as your companions and guides.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 29, 2022

Nine books about the beauty & complexities of chosen families

Gabe Montesanti is a queer, Midwestern roller derby player. She earned her BA in mathematics and studio art from Kalamazoo College and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Washington University in St. Louis. She has had work published in Belt Magazine, Brevity, The Offing, and Boulevard Magazine. Her piece, "The Worldwide Roller Derby Convention" was recognized as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2020. Her roller derby memoir, Brace for Impact, came out from The Dial Press in May, 2022.

At Electric Lit Montesanti tagged "nine books, by authors whose sexualities and gender identities span the gamut, [that] portray the beauty and complexity of chosen family," including:
Just Kids by Patti Smith

I had just finished studying in New York City for a term when I was introduced to Just Kids by Patti Smith. My experience living in a townhouse in Chelsea with twenty other budding artists meant that I could relate to Smith’s longing to find a community at the Pratt Institute. We were both 19, just kids, when we found ourselves in New York.

Smith’s book primarily details her profound relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989. The two become an inseparable pair, and the artists and writers who surround Smith and Mapplethorpe at art openings and in the Chelsea Hotel become somewhat of a surrogate family. There’s a certain grittiness in Just Kids I hope will resonate with my readers, too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Just Kids is among Fiona Sturges's ten best music biographies, Christopher Bonanos's six best New York City biographies, Barbara Bourland's ten essential books about contemporary artists, Dana Czapnik's favorite novels featuring kids or young adults coming of age in cities, and Dan Holmes's twenty best memoirs written by musicians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Top 10 stories of modern India

Aravind Jayan is a young writer from India.

His novel Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors describes the personal and familial catastrophes that unfold after a young man and his girlfriend discover an explicit video of themselves circulating online.

At the Guardian Jayan tagged ten top books on modern India, including:
Prelude to a Riot by Annie Zaidi

In this short novel Zaidi goes about assembling a bomb. The setting is a small south Indian town. Religious tension, caste differences, labour exploitation and the ill-treatment of migrants all provide excellent bomb-making material. As the novel progresses, a quiet bleakness settles over much of the town and keeps growing. No one seems to have the power to stop it. The bigots, on the other hand, are industrious. They form committees, organise marches, send letters to the local newspaper editor and buy guns. While the book has humour and beauty, the urgent narrative that Zaidi creates – by very careful crafting of each character’s soliloquy – is one that will make you feel terrified and outnumbered.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Six private school thrillers for the grown-up and graduated

Before turning to fiction, Aggie Blum Thompson covered real-life crime as a newspaper reporter for a number of papers, including The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. She lives with her husband and two children, a cat, and a dog in the suburbs of Washington D.C. She is the author of I Don't Forgive You and All the Dirty Secrets.

At CrimeReads she tagged six favorite private school thrillers. One title on the list:
Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

This psychological thriller is set at a prep school in rural Virginia, which has been nicknamed a Silent Ivy due to its reputation for sending its young graduates to Ivy League universities. Each class contains only fifty girls—hand-picked by the dean herself—and all of whom are gifted, intelligent and belonging to powerful and connected families. But not all is good at The Goode School, and when a student is found dead, Ash Carlisle, a new student who has recently lost her parents, must figure out whether her new classmates are friends or killers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Good Girls Lie is among Amy Gentry's top novels of the Dark Academia canon and Avery Bishop's five thrillers that explore "mean girl" culture.

My Book, The Movie: Good Girls Lie.

The Page 69 Test: Good Girls Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Five top books on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, focusing in particular on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf countries.

Pollack is the author of ten books, including Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, a history of Arab armies from the end of World War II to the present, in which he assesses the performance of Arab armed forces and the reason for their difficulties.

At Shepherd Pollack tagged five of the best books on Middle East military history, including:
The Iran-Iraq War by Williamson Murray and Kevin M. Woods

Wick Murray is one of America’s greatest military historians and Kevin Woods was the leader of the team sent by the U.S. government to exploit the documents and taped conversations captured by U.S. forces in Iraq after 2003. Murray was a key member of that team and they also interviewed many former Iraqi generals. Finally, they also managed to unearth some Iranian accounts of the war—some from the Iraqi intelligence archives. Not surprisingly, this is a terrific account of the war, one that brings in all kinds of new material, especially from the Iraqi side. Their narrative description hits all of the key points of a very long, complex conflict, their insights and analysis are spot on, and the addition of the new material from the Iraqi side makes this the definitive work on the subject at least until comparable materials come to light from the Iranian side.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2022

Twelve novels about assistants trapped in jobs they’re too good for

Alison B. Hart’s writing has appeared in Joyland Magazine, Literary Hub, The Missouri Review, and The Millions, among others. She co-founded the long-running reading series at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn and received her MFA from The New School. She grew up in Los Angeles and lives in North Carolina.

Hart's debut novel is The Work Wife.

At Electric Lit she tagged twelve novels that "tell the tales of the assistants, temps, apprentices, and unpaid laborers who also smooth the way for others." One title on the list:
Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

Told entirely through Slack message threads, Several People Are Typing is a satirical romp through workplace culture and a meditation on the pathos and poetry of digital communication. Gerald is a mid-level employee at a public relations firm when he finds himself somehow stuck inside the app. At first he’s desperate to return to the land of living—no thanks to his coworkers, who are convinced he’s only out to milk his remote setup—but he grows to savor his increased productivity and life inside the matrix. After all, “what is a workplace but a cult where everyone gets paid, really?” He also develops surprisingly intimate relationships with both the coworker he pays to check on his body and Slackbot, a helpful but menacing piece of AI in search of a human form. You don’t have to have the rat-a-tat-tat of Slack’s new message notification etched in your consciousness like one of Pavlov’s dogs to enjoy this book, but it doesn’t hurt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Seven titles about wealthy people behaving badly

Lizzy Barber is a London-based author of female-driven psychological suspense novels which are rich in atmosphere and character.

Her new novel is Out Of Her Depth.

At CrimeReads Barber tagged seven novels about the lifestyles of the rich and shameless, including:
The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

I owe a huge debt to Highsmith’s Italian-set Ripley novel, which was a major inspiration for Out of her Depth. Like my protagonist Rachel, the eponymous Tom Ripley is a ‘fish out of water,’ drawn in to the world of the capricious Dickie Greenleaf and his somewhat-girlfriend, Marge. Tom lusts after Dickie and Marge’s lifestyle…to a dark end…but by using a protagonist who only has one foot in their world, Highsmith is able to comment on their appalling antics in a way Tom himself is too blinkered to see.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Charlotte Northedge's top ten list of novels about toxic friendships, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five books that explore the dark side of fitting in, Saul A. Lelchuk's nine great thrillers featuring alter egos, Emma Stonex's list of seven top mystery novels set by the sea, Russ Thomas's top ten list of queer protagonists in crime fictionPaul Vidich's list of five of the most enduring imposters in crime fiction & espionage, Lisa Levy's list of eight of the most toxic friendships in crime fiction, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Laurence Scott's list of seven top books about doppelgangers, J.S. Monroe's list of seven suspenseful literary thrillers, Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Ten of the most puzzling impossible crime mysteries

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries.

He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors.

Mead's debut novel is Death and the Conjuror.

[My Book, The Movie: Death and the Conjuror; The Page 69 Test: Death and the Conjuror; Q&A with Tom Mead]

At Publishers Weekly Mead tagged ten of the best locked-room or impossible crime mysteries, including:
The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

Whenever I am asked what is my favorite locked-room mystery or impossible crime story, this is always my answer. The murder of Professor Charles Grimaud by the mysterious “hollow man” who vanishes without trace is a perfect locked-room problem. Meanwhile, the killing of illusionist Pierre Fley in a street carpeted with unmarked snow is an archetypal example of the popular impossible crime variant, the no-footprints puzzle.

As well as one of the most famous examples of the subgenre, this novel remains an indisputable masterpiece. Not only is it a tour-de-force of plotting, prose, and atmosphere, it also happens to contain within it one of the definitive critical overviews of the genre itself: the famous “locked-room lecture,” a perfect piece of meta-fiction in which Dr. Gideon Fell examines the very nature of the impossible crime. It’s a treatise which probes just about every category of impossible crime, providing numerous examples of methods by which they could be achieved. But is the solution to these two murders lurking somewhere in those scant few pages? Or is the locked-room lecture itself just a red herring?

When I first read this book, the brilliance of the solution left me giddy. Reading it again today, it has lost none of its impact. This book is one of the many reasons that John Dickson Carr remains (to borrow a phrase from Agatha Christie) the “supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2022

Seven titles about the wide-ranging cause & effects of climate change

Tajja Isen is the author of Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service. She is an editor for Catapult Magazine and the former digital editor at The Walrus.

Amy Brady is the Executive Director of Orion. She is also the author of a cultural history of ice in America and the former Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books. She holds a PhD in literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has won writing and research awards from the National Science Foundation, the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference, and the Library of Congress.

Brady and Isen are the editors of The World As We Knew It: Dispatches From a Changing Climate.

At Electric Lit they tagged seven books to "inspire readers to see the climate crisis not as a single issue as it’s so often described, but as the wide-ranging, multifaceted phenomenon it truly is—and crucially, feel motivated to do something about it." One title on the list:
The Reckonings: Essays on Justice for the Twenty-First Century by Lacy M. Johnson

Some of the essays in this powerful, beautiful collection are about ecological destruction and the consequences of generational violence done to the land. But many are not. What they all have in common, however, is commentary on justice—what it means, how it manifests, and in what ways it’s related to retribution. Taken together, these essays speak to the need for compassion and patience in our fight for a more just society. These are lessons needed now more than ever as the climate crisis continues to lay bare the fact that its origins are rooted in injustice at every level of society.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Top 10 21st-century fantasy novels

Scholar and editor Brian Attebery has won multiple awards for his work on fantasy and science fiction, mostly recently the World Fantasy Award for his longtime editorship of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. In 2019 he was the Leverhulme Visiting Professor in fantasy at the University of Glasgow. One of his projects there was helping to launch a scholarly series from Bloombury Academic, Perspectives on Fantasy, which he edits along with Dimitra Fimi and Matthew Sanger. He is the author of Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth and Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, among other books, and co-editor with Ursula K. Le Guin and Karen Joy Fowler of the Norton Book of Science Fiction. As editor of Le Guin's work for the Library of America he is currently working on a volume of her short fiction.

Attebery's new book is Fantasy: How It Works.

At the Guardian he tagged ten of the best non-Eurocentric fantasy titles, works that "not only tell engaging stories set in vividly imagined worlds, they are also worth reading for the way their versions challenge our sense of the ordinary and the limits of the real." One title on the list:
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (2010)

Like much of Okorafor’s work, this novel draws on her experiences as the child of Nigerian immigrants, hearing stories and spending time with extended family in Africa. Protagonist Onyesonwu, whose name translated from Igbo provides the book’s title, is the child of rape, fitting into neither of two societies but inheriting powers from both sides of her parentage. In a switch from the conventional “chosen hero” narrative, Onyewonsu ends up rewriting the prophecies and remaking her world. In this and other science fantasies, Okorafor helped to invent a form she calls Africanfuturism, which has been embraced by readers and emulated by a talented new generation of African and diasporic writers including Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Khadija Abdalla Bajaber.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Who Fears Death is among Anneliese Mackintosh's seven dystopian novels about motherhood and Joel Cunningham's twenty sci-fi & fantasy books with a social justice message.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Five SFF titles that play with magic & its aftermath

Melissa Albert is the New York Times and indie bestselling author of the Hazel Wood series (The Hazel Wood, The Night Country, Tales from the Hinterland) and a former bookseller and YA lit blogger. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages and included in the New York Times list of Notable Children’s Books.

Albert's new novel is Our Crooked Hearts.

At Albert tagged five "books and series that, like Our Crooked Hearts, play with magic and its aftermath." One entry on the list:
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

This phenomenal multiverse story kicks off after the death of its main character, Cara—in all but eight of the 372 known worlds. In the world where our story originates, Cara is a steel-spined urchin of the Ashtown wastes, identified for her gift of dying nearly everywhere but in the world where it counts: the one where the Eldridge Institute has perfected multiverse travel, sending agents across worlds to collect information. The catch being, agents can only survive the trip if their otherworld selves are dead. The book is instantly gripping and unfolds with operatic scope, but it’s only as you go on that you discover just how much of the story has already happened, just how much plot and trauma already live inside Cara’s skin, shading everything from her potentially fatal choices to her melancholy flirtations and flings with various versions of her unattainable handler.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Six books about psychology and the study of the mind

Gwen Adshead is one of the UK’s leading forensic psychiatrists and psychotherapists. She has spent thirty years working in Broadmoor, England’s largest secure psychiatric hospital, with groups and individual patients convicted of serious violent offences, as well as with people in prisons and in the community. Adshead has a Master’s degree in medical law and ethics and has published several academic books and over one hundred papers and commissioned articles on forensic psychotherapy, moral reasoning and ethics, and attachment theory. She is a founder member of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and has been a visiting professor at Yale University and Gresham College in the UK.

Adshead is the author (with Eileen Horne) of The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged six books "that she has found invaluable throughout her career," including:
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy by John le Carré

My last book is much more than a spy story, although that is its genre. It begins with a suspicion that the British Secret Service has a double agent, and the appointment of an ex-member of the service to investigate, George Smiley, who is not a conventional hero in any sense. He has no gadgets, amphibious cars or watches that fire rockets; there are no chases or explosions. He uses evidence, memories and reflections on relationships to expose the truth.

I have lost count of how often I have read this book. I like the uncomplicated prose style and I love its observations of human foibles and personalities. In tiny details or almost throw-away comments about his characters, le Carré creates real people who we care about and make us reflect on our own choices. Above all, this is a book about love, and how it survives disappointment and betrayal, battered but persistent.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on Alan Judd's list of five of the best spy novels, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and among Jon Stock's top ten John le Carré novels, Jeffrey Archer's top ten romans-fleuves, Robert Baer's five best books on being a spy and Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has long since entered the canon of modern literature," writes John Birmingham, "probably because it seemed to so accurately capture the reality of the Soviet’s penetration of British intelligence in the 1950s and 60s before we understood just how complete that penetration was."

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 18, 2022

Twelve books about the long road to becoming an artist

Antonia Angress was born in Los Angeles and raised in San José, Costa Rica. She is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota MFA program, where she was a Winifred Fiction Fellow and a College of Liberal Arts Fellow. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, the artist Connor McManus.

Sirens & Muses is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Angress tagged twelve "Künstlerromans, novels about an artist coming into maturity," including:
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Mel and Sharon meet during their first week at art school and quickly become inseparable, forging a friendship and creative partnership that culminates, years later, in a critically acclaimed animated film. But with success comes trouble, and soon their partnership is threatened by addiction, self-doubt, and long-buried resentments. In recent years there’s been an Elena Ferrante-fueled boom in novels about thorny female friendships, but The Animators adds another intriguing layer, exploring the dynamic between two women who are not only friends but also business partners and creative collaborators.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Animators is among Rebecca Kauffman's top ten musical novels.

My Book, The Movie: The Animators.

The Page 69 Test: The Animators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Top ten locked-room mysteries

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries.

He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors.

Mead's debut novel is Death and the Conjuror.

[ My Book, The Movie: Death and the Conjuror; The Page 69 Test: Death and the Conjuror]

At CrimeReads Mead tagged his ten favorite locked-room mysteries, including:
Invisible Green (1977) by John Sladek

John Sladek is an important figure in the world of science fiction, which unfortunately means his excellent impossible crime novels, Black Aura and Invisible Green have been long-neglected. Invisible Green in particular demonstrates its author’s versatile imagination, lively prose and his keen logic. The books themselves are anomalies in that they appeared in the 1970s, long after the golden age had ended. In spite of this, these are perfect examples of golden age locked rooms, with amateur sleuth Thackeray Phin cut from the same cloth as Edmund Crispin’s Gervase Fen. It’s just a shame that Phin appeared in only two novels and a short story before Sladek abandoned him in favour of sci fi. Who knows what else he could have achieved?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 16, 2022

The 10 best 21st century Chicago novels

Edward McClelland is a native of Lansing, Mich., which is also the birthplace of Burt Reynolds and the Oldsmobile.

McClelland’s most recent book, Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class, is a narrative account of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which led to the establishment of the United Auto Workers as the nation’s flagship labor union. His previous book, How to Speak Midwestern, is a guide to the speech and sayings of Middle America, which The New York Times called “a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

At Chicago magazine McClelland tagged ten "favorite modern fiction titles set in Chicago," including:
The Kindest Lie (2021) by Nancy Johnson

Ruth Tuttle is young, successful, and Black on the South Side of Chicago at a moment when another young, successful Black South Sider is elected president of the United States. Ruth went to Yale and built a career as an engineer, but was only able to do so because she gave up a baby boy when she was a teenager. Before she can start a family with her husband, Ruth must return to her blue-collar Indiana hometown — which seems a lot like Gary — to find out what became of her son.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Q&A with Nancy Johnson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 15, 2022

Seven historical fiction titles set in the Pacific Northwest

Leyna Krow is the author of the short story collection I’m Fine, But You Appear to Be Sinking, which was a Believer Book Award finalist. She lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and two children.

Krow's new novel is Fire Season.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven historical fiction books set in the Pacific Northwest, including:
Spokane, Washington: The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Nobody writes about my home of Spokane with as much precision, or as much glee, as Jess Walter. Walter is the author of seven novels, most of which take place in or around Spokane. The city is a setting, but also kind of a character—an inscrutable entity, simultaneously comic and downtrodden, but ultimately lovable, just like Walter’s human characters. The Spokane of The Cold Millions is no exception.

The book chronicles the free speech protests of 1909, with a pair of drifter brothers turned labor activists as its heroes. It’s a story of big action and big personalities, all colliding in a city as rough and tumble as the people who occupied it. It’s the kind of writing that can make a person want to visit Spokane, even if they’re already there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Top 10 books about twins

Rebecca Wait is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, The View on the Way Down (2013), The Followers, (2015) and Our Fathers (2020), which was a Guardian Book of the Year and Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Her new novel is I'm Sorry You Feel That Way.

At the Guardian Wait tagged ten of "the most interesting twins in literature. Some display the closeness we might expect, but others are (perhaps more interestingly) beset by mutual resentment and distrust." One entry on the list:
Rahel and Esthappen in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This is a tender, harrowing, gorgeously written (albeit easily parodied) novel of forbidden love in various forms. Twins Rahel and Estha are growing up in turbulent 1960s Kerala in India. So complete is their understanding of each other that “for them there was no Each, no Other”, but a terrible series of events leads to years of separation. The timeline is disjointed, moving back and forth between past and present as the novel explores the devastating consequences of transgressing social laws.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The God of Small Things is among Alex Hyde's top ten mirrored lives in fiction, Saumya Roy's seven unlikely love stories in literature, and Miranda Doyle's top ten books about lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Five mystery novels set in speculative worlds

B. L. Blanchard is a graduate of the UC Davis creative writing honors program and was a writing fellow at Boston University School of Law. She is a lawyer and enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan but has lived in California for so long that she can no longer handle cold weather, and resides in San Diego with her husband and two daughters. The Peacekeeper is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads Blanchard tagged five favorite mystery novels in a speculative setting, including:
Instinct by Jason Hough

Police officer Mary Whittaker is new to the small village of Silvertown, Washington, the conspiracy theory capital of the United States. When the town’s police chief takes a leave of absence, Mary is left to run things alone. A series of grisly and mysterious deaths follow, each one the result of questionable circumstances. The body of a hiker with a known fear of animals is found smiling after being mauled by a bear. A motorcyclist is found sitting in the middle of a highway, as if waiting to be hit by a car. Everyone apparently is abandoning their instincts, and soon Mary is one of them. The investigation leads Mary to uncover a sinister plot reminiscent of Twin Peaks or a Vancouver-era episode of The X Files.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Eight novels about the drama of living in a neighborhood

Chris Cander is the USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of a Piano, which was named an Indie Next Great Read in both hardcover and paperback and which the New York Times called, “immense, intense and imaginative,” Whisper Hollow, also named an Indie Next Great Read, and 11 Stories, named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2013 and winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards for fiction. She also wrote the children’s picture book The Word Burglar, and the Audible Originals “Eddies” and “Grieving Conversations.” Her new novel is A Gracious Neighbor.

[My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano.]

At Electric Lit Cander tagged eight novels about dealing with difficult neighbors, including:
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

I devoured this gorgeous book the week it was released, and had such a desperate hangover when it ended that I couldn’t read anything else for a fortnight afterward. Along with their new wives, Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson, two rookie Bronx cops, move into neighboring homes in a nearby town. Two of their children, Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born the same year, become best friends, and then more than that. But on the cusp of teenagerhood, a tragic event forces the Stanhopes out of their home, and Kate and Peter out of each other’s lives. The narrative follows the two as they reunite, struggling to put the traumatic past behind them as they lean into the headwinds of the future.

Not only is Keane’s writing sublime, but she never succumbs to sentimentality. Her characters are flawed, nuanced, and relatable even at their worst. She invites us to look carefully around the low-lit corners of these families’ homes and hearts, never passing judgment, but allowing us to decide for ourselves who to root for. In the end, I rooted for them all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 11, 2022

Eight books in which characters solve crimes while on holiday

Sarah Stewart Taylor is the author of the Sweeney St. George series and the Maggie D'arcy series. She grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Middlebury College in Vermont and Trinity College, Dublin, where she studied Irish Literature. She has worked as a journalist and writing teacher and now lives with her family on a farm in Vermont where they raise sheep and grow blueberries.

Taylor's latest Maggie D'arcy mystery is The Drowning Sea.

[The Page 69 Test: The Mountains WildThe Page 69 Test: A Distant GraveQ&A with Sarah Stewart TaylorThe Page 69 Test: The Drowning Sea]

At CrimeReads Taylor tagged eight "classic and contemporary crime novels and stories that feature professional detectives trying their best to relax, but who keep getting pulled back into the detection game." One title on the list:
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Penny’s famously decent Montreal police detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is looking forward to his regular week of recharging and relaxing with his wife Reine-Marie at Manoir Bellechasse in Quebec’s eastern townships.

The tensions between members of the Finney family, also vacationing at Manoir Bellechasse, match the rising heat that culminates in a summer thunderstorm. At the end of it, a murder victim is discovered on the grounds and Gamache has to put his romantic break on hold to investigate. I love the atmosphere of this Gamache mystery, the fourth in Penny’s wildly popular series, and the way she deftly characterizes the overburdened, exhausted detective:

“But when he started looking at people in the street and noticing the skull beneath the skin it was time for a break.”
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Four of the best crime novels set in Africa

Femi Kayode has spent the last two decades in advertising. In fits and starts. In between, he was a Packard Gates Fellow in Film at the University of Southern California and a Gates Fellow in International Health at the University of Washington. He also managed to build an impressive resume on prime-time television by creating, writing and developing several award-winning TV dramas.

He recently completed an MA in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia, where his novel Lightseekers won the Little, Brown / UEA Crime Fiction Award.

Lightseekers is his first novel and the beginning of a series of books based on the investigations of Dr Philip K. Talwo. He lives in Namibia with his wife, two sons and two overly friendly dogs.

At the Waterstones blog Kayode tagged four top crime novels set in Africa, including:
Making Wolf by Tade Thompson (West Africa)

It started with a harmless lie. Weston Kogi works in security at a supermarket in London and returns to his fictitious home country in West Africa for a funeral. An overindulgence in good food and beer led Weston to claim he is a homicide detective in London. Such an impressive resume led to Weston’s kidnap by a rebel group who insist he must use his skills to solve the murder of a local hero, Papa Busi. With Weston’s life literally on the line, the pressure is on to solve a crime that might push the nation of Alcacia into a civil war. Weston is caught between two homicidal rebel factions, a shadowy state secret police, a morally ambivalent society on the brink of total chaos. Pumping action meets frightening realities in this compulsive thriller. Through it all, Tade Thompson paints a vivid picture of an African nation that is sadly, all too familiar.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Twenty-three books about backstabbing & betrayal

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged "23 books about backstabbing and betrayal," including:
Ian McEwan

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Atonement on this list of betrayals and backstabbings. When Briony misconstrues a flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and her childhood friend, Robbie, her misunderstanding brings about a crime that changes their lives forever. Taking place throughout World War II and the end of the twentieth century, this book follows the repercussions of that crime and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Atonement also appears on Emma Rous's list of the ten top dinner parties in modern fiction, David Leavitt's top ten list of house parties in fiction, Abbie Greaves's top ten list of books about silence, Eliza Casey's list of ten favorite stories--from film, fiction, and television--from the early 20th century, Nicci French's top ten list of dinner parties in fiction, Mark Skinner's list of ten of the best country house novels, Julia Dahl's top ten list of books about miscarriages of justice, Tim Lott's top ten list of summers in fiction, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, David Treuer's six favorite books list, Kirkus Reviews's list of eleven books whose final pages will shock you, Nicole Hill's list of eleven books in which the main character dies, Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 8, 2022

Ten of the best international thrillers

Chris Pavone is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Expats, winner of the Edgar and Anthony awards for best first novel, The Accident, [The Travelers, The Paris Diversion, and Two Nights in Lisbon.

[Coffee with a Canine: Chris Pavone & Charlie BrownThe Page 69 Test: The ExpatsThe Page 69 Test: The AccidentThe Page 69 Test: The TravelersThe Page 69 Test: The Paris DiversionThe Page 69 Test: Two Nights in Lisbon]

His novels have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and IndieNext; have won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, and have been shortlisted for the Strand, Macavity, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize; are in development for film and television; and have been translated into two dozen languages.

At Publishers Weekly Pavone tagged ten favorite international thrillers, including:
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

Since the end of the Cold War, the espionage novel has been steadily receding in prominence, largely replaced on bestseller lists with other subgenres of suspense fiction. There’s a dwindling cadre of novelists who are still writing about spies, but Mr. Steinhauer is possibly the best of them, and Cairo is an espionage novel of the highest order, packed with betrayals, double-crosses, hidden agendas, moral conflicts, international relations, globe-trotting atmosphere, and even a delectable double-entendre of a title.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Top 10 funny comic books

Luke Healy is a cartoonist, comedian and TV writer from Dublin, Ireland.

His newest book is The Con Artist.

At the Guardian Healy tagged ten "books [that] cross all sorts of genres and styles, from memoirs about dark subjects to essay collections about modern dating, to reviews of Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film Warhorse. But the one thing they all have in common is a funny person at their core." One title on the list:
My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt

Hanawalt achieves the rare feat of making her drawings themselves funny. Not only are her thoughts and observations about life and media amusing, but every face, every body, every location she draws is infused with comedy. This collection of short comics includes pieces about food, sex, gender, movies and more. Every page turn brings a new delight, coloured by Hanawalt’s charming and offbeat sensibility.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Seven unconventional women at the heart of great novels

Louise Hare is a London-based author. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two.

She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London.

Hare's new novel is Miss Aldridge Regrets.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven unconventional women at the center of great novels, including:
Precious You, by Helen Monks Takhar

If you want two unconventional women for the price of one, Helen Monks Takhar delivers with Precious You. Katherine is editor in chief at a magazine, in a happy relationship and in her early forties. Lily is the new intern, relative of the magazine’s publisher, who walks in and seems determined to undermine Katherine at every opportunity. Is Katherine just being paranoid and jealous of a younger woman? Is Lily really out to get Katherine’s job? Or are they just as bad as one another? Trust me, this book goes to DARK places!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue