Give & Keep (a holiday book guide)

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.

Merry Reading!

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SONDHEIM

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.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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A

A IS FOR ARSENIC: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
by Kathryn Harkup
Bloomsbury Sigma

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.

Drink up!

CLICK TO ORDER

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trolley

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.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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fil

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!

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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brit

And speaking of France…

DEATH IN BRITTANY
A novel by Jean-Luc Bannalec
Minotaur Books

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.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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calm

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!

Color Me Calm

example by Carla M. Wilson

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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Another Mysterious Summer Ahead

Memorial Day has come and gone which means it’s almost time for my “Summer Mysteries” round-up. I’ll whet your appetite with a few titles I’ve enjoyed recently.

mono

Whenever Hercule Poirot appears on the scene it’s cause for celebration, if not a beach party. Hercule’s presence usually means a dead body has turned up and in the case of THE MONOGRAM MURDERS there are a whole bunch of bodies at once – all found in their rooms at a posh London hotel. Sophie Hannah was given the honor of continuing the series by Agatha Christie’s estate, and she does an admirable job of bringing our favorite Belgian detective back to life. Watching Poirot’s mind at work is always a lot of fun – especially when the plot is a complex as this one. Is it plausible?  I daresay it’s not, but that won’t stop fans from enjoying the ride. (Note: the book will be available in paperback June 9th.)

THE MONOGRAM MURDERS
Sophie Hannah
William Morrow
CLICK HERE TO ORDER ON AMAZON

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9781616956264-398x600

If you haven’t discovered  Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond  series yet, you’ve missed a lot. Fortunately Soho Crime keeps the titles in print – so you have about 14 books to look forward to. DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN will be available soon and it’s one of the author’s best. This time around Diamond finds himself trapped in Sussex with his annoying supervisor, Assistant Chief Constable Gorgina Dallymore. Yes, even her name is annoying, and this set-up provides Lovesey with some nice humorous opportunities. The crime(s) here, however, are no laughing matter. The novel is fast-paced, suspenseful, with enough twists to keep you awake in the hammock.

DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN
Peter Lovesey
SOHO CRIME
CLICK HERE TO ORDER ON AMAZON

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herb

If you want laughter with your crime, then you’ll have to investigate Timothy Hallinan’s Junior Bender series. The L.A. burglar is in good form in HERBIE’S GAME —  a definite “beach read”  —  packed with enough cynical humor to keep you laughing through Labor day.

HERBIE’S GAME
Timothy Hallinan
SOHO CRIME
CLICK HERE TO ORDER ON AMAZON

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Soho Crime has also released a reprint of the novel GBH by Ted Lewis, the author of GET CARTER. Haven’t read this one yet, but it looks very promising and into the picnic basket it goes.

More soon!

—Carla M. Wilson