Here are a few cool titles we’re looking forward to.
[click on covers for more info]
AND watch for our reviews of Peter Lovesey’s new novel and a prequel to Cara Black’s popular series.
Gallic Press guarantees a long hot summer with the latest translation of Pascal Garnier‘s TOO CLOSE CLOSE TO THE EDGE. We first discovered this novelist with the release of MOON IN A DEAD EYE which was one of our Favorite Books of 2014. Then we read THE PANDA THEORY and became hopelessly addicted. This latest short novel is noir for the course.
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You can’t miss with Don DeLillo—his best novel since WHITE NOISE.
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If it’s too hot in the sun, this one will give you chills. THE LONEY is eerie, odd, and beautifully written. Andrew Michael Hurley is a poet of terror.
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Wrong is an understatement with Trump at the helm, but E.J, Dionne sets the record straight on how far out the GOP has gone.
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C’mon, who doesn’t love it. Here’s the scoop, CHEDDAR: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese? Is it lunch time yet? Say cheese!
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I made it through the spring thanks to Overlook Press and their scrumptious The Collector’s Wodehouse series. That’s not to imply that I own or have read all the titles in the series—far from it!—but I have a sizable tower of mirth within reach.
Now I’ve raved about this vast collection before (see this LINK), but it bears repeating, since you’ll not only find the seminal titles (the Jeeves & Wooster series and Blandings Castle books) but lesser known gems and stand-alones such as THE MATING SEASON and THE GIRL ON THE BOAT. All the books are beautifully crafted hardcovers, of uniform design, with wonderful cover art by Andrzej Klimowski. And these editions make grand gifts that will certainly whet one’s appetite to start collecting them. (I wonder if Overlook offers a discount for the entire series? I daresay it would cost a fortune to ship.)
Wodehouse novels and stories are a delight for all seasons. In winter, they provide spring breezes. In summer, they put you in a gently swaying hammock.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some swaying to do.
I hope you’ll forgive a bit of self-promotion here, as this has been a long time coming.
I’ve been on the missing persons list for a few months, putting the finishing touches on my book MISSING MYSTERIES: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF NONEXISTENT MYSTERIES. I began this massive satirical reference back in 2011 and it has finally launched—in a shiny, full-color, large format paperback edition from Black Scat Books.
I might as well let the blurbs speak for themselves because—frankly—I’m pooped.
“Derek Pell is quite mad, in rather a brilliant way.” —Lawrence Block
“Pell’s satire doesn’t lack for sharp edges. His twisted humor is sure to appeal to crime-fiction lovers.” —J. Kingston Pierce, THE RAP SHEET
“This book is a lot of fun!” —Steven Heller
Copies are now available worldwide on Amazon. CLICK HERE TO ORDER
We’re not doing a “Ten Best” list this year — it’s too frustrating having to leave out so many good titles. Instead, below, you’ll find cool new books that’ll make great holiday gifts.
ON SONDHEIM: An Opinionated Guide
by Ethan Mordden
Oxford University Press
Here’s a smart (and, yes, highly opinionated) guide to the master’s works. Stephen Sondheim is, of course, the brilliant lyricist-composer who has redefined American musical theatre. Mordden’s guide is an illuminating introduction to the man and his work.
A IS FOR ARSENIC: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
by Kathryn Harkup
OK, here’s a fun one for Christie fans. Clearly, Christie’s cup of tea was tainted; that is to say, she preferred using poison to kill off her characters than other messier methods. This penchant for the deadly dose is, in part, explained by the author’s education and knowledge of lethal chemicals. Kathryn Harkup explores the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen Christie mysteries, and illuminates the science behind the author’s fiction.
THE TROLLEY PROBLEM MYSTERIES
(The Berkeley Tanner Lectures)
by F. M. Kamm
Edited by Eric Rakowski
Oxford University Press
For the budding philosopher on your list, Kamm’s work poses the classic “trolley problem” that asks the reader to confront a moral dilemma. “A train is ripping down the track at full speed, headed straight for five unsuspecting workers. If you could push the person walking next to you onto the track and save those men, would you do it?” Hmm. Those two sentences lead us to a variety of complex questions and scenarios. Indeed, a ride on this trolley won’t soon be forgotten.
GRAPHIQUE de la RUE: The Signs of Paris
by Louise Fili
Princeton Architectural Press
If you love Paris (and who doesn’t?) then this love letter to French lettering is for you. Graphic designer Louise Fili has been photographing street signs in the city for over 40 years and her book is filled with glorious color reproductions of distinctive typography. Includes classic gold-leaf and dimensional Art Deco, Futurist, and Art Nouveau architectural lettering.
It’s a visual delight!
And speaking of France…
DEATH IN BRITTANY
A novel by Jean-Luc Bannalec
A new mystery series, introducing Commissaire Georges Dupin, a slightly cranky detective who solves his cases via injections of coffee and fine food. In fact, it’s his frequent pauses to partake during the murder investigation that make this novel such a delight.
Bannalec’s descriptions of this quaint coastal region will have you booking a flight there. DEATH IN BRITTANY was our favorite mystery of the year. A most promising debut and we can’t wait for Dupin’s next case.
COLOR ME CALM: 100 COLORING TEMPLATES FOR MEDITATION AND RELAXATION
|y Lacy Mucklow
Race Point Publishing
Last but not least, when the stress-filled holidays come to a roaring end on New Year’s Eve, chances are you’ll be left feeling wiped out and jittery. If so, here’s a gift you can give yourself— an adult coloring book designed to erase the stress and, perhaps, send you into a Zen-like trance. You’ll not only feel relaxed, but you’ll have a book filled with your own colored art. It’s soothing, fun to do, and lovely to look at.
Heck, coloring ain’t for kids anymore!
example by Carla M. Wilson
A brainy stocking stuffer for anyone shooting snaps with a smartphone. Instead of a tripod, attach your phone to the GekkoPod and twist the bendable legs around an overhead branch, a bench, a chair – anything you can think of. Want to take a selfie at a skewed Noirish angle? With GekkoPod it’s a snap (no pun intended!). I also discovered another handy use for this little critter. I will often be out at a coffee shop without my laptop and want to catch up on the news while I sip and snack. I use the Gekkopod as a secure stand, so I don’t have to lean the phone against a sliding salt seller. Nice!
The Gekkopod comes with an adaptable mount for phones, GoPro mount, and standard screw for cameras.
Check it out at gekkopod.com
This season, if you want to give the gift of laughter and a cozy escape from these dark days, you can’t go wrong with a novel by the humorist P.G. Wodehouse, the creator of Bertie Wooster and his valet extraordinaire, Jeeves. In the past, I’ve had to make do with uninspired dog-eared paperbacks found in secondhand bookshops but, now—thanks to the great Overlook Press — we have The Collector’s Wodehouse editions. This uniform series in hardcovers is handsomely crafted, designed by Peter B. Willberg, with wonderful cover illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski.
By my count, there are 46 titles in the series, which is more than enough to keep the merriment flowing throughout the New Year.
Furthermore, these novels need not be a “guilty pleasure” since, in between the chuckles and guffaws, one can savor the sentences of a master stylist. Here, for example, is Bertie’s take on a violin solo at a local concert hall in The Mating Season:
Except for knowing that when you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all, I’m not really an authority on violin solos, so cannot state definitively whether La Pulbrook’s was or was not a credit to the accomplices who had taught her the use of the instrument. It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.
I recently went on a Wodehouse binge, reading in quick succession the delightful A Damsel in Distress, The Mating Season, and Meet Mr Mulliner. That trio simply whets my appetite for more, and you can bet I’ll be toasting P.G. on New Year’s Eve.