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Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on beginning Friday, February 13th:

Also mentioned in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

MANHUNT by James Swanson

Reviews and Excerpts
LETHAL LEGACY by Linda Fairstein (Legal Thriller)
When Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LETHAL LEGACY.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for LETHAL LEGACY.

BLOOD AND BONE by William Lashner (Thriller)
When his father’s former law partner is brutally murdered, the cops see Kyle Byrne as a possible suspect and start asking uncomfortable questions about his father’s death. After a strange encounter with one of his father’s former clients, Kyle enters into a search for answers that leads from his father’s past to the highest pinnacles of power --- and forces Kyle to lay bare the deceptions and losses in his own life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
-Click here to read an excerpt from BLOOD AND BONE.

LARK AND TERMITE by Jayne Anne Phillips (Fiction)
Set in West Virginia and Korea in the 1950s, and told through the eyes of four distinctive narrators, Jayne Anne Phillips’s latest novel is a moving exploration of the powerful bonds that keep families together in the face of the forces that threaten to sunder them. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LARK AND TERMITE.
-Click here to view the reading group guide for LARK AND TERMITE.

THE WOMEN by T.C. Boyle (Fiction)
With a bold, lively spirit of historical reinvention, T.C. Boyle stunningly brings to life renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright through the lens of his relationships with his indentured servant/apprentices and with the four women whose passionate, unconventional love affairs with Wright served as microcosms of his mercurial, impractical disposition and lifelong quest to do something extraordinary. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE BREAKTHROUGH: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill (Current Affairs)
Everyone --- even his political enemies --- agrees that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency is a “historic” event. But what exactly does this mean? Has it really opened up new prospects for minorities in American politics? If so, who will be the beneficiaries? And how do African Americans themselves feel about the idea? TV journalist Gwen Ifill tackles these and other provocative questions in a book that could change your thinking about what “historic” really means. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

SPADE & ARCHER: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by Joe Gores (Mystery)
What was Sam Spade doing before he took on the case of THE MALTESE FALCON? Where did Effie Perine come from? How did Miles Archer hook up with Spade? The answers to these questions and more are woven into the thread of SPADE & ARCHER, a superb prequel from three-time Edgar Award winner Joe Gores. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

MOUNTING FEARS by Stuart Woods (Thriller)
In MOUNTING FEARS, President Will Lee’s running mate just died during surgery, and confirmation hearings for the new vice president are underway. Meanwhile, rogue CIA agent Teddy Fay is plotting his revenge on CIA director Kate Rule Lee, the president’s wife. Plus, there are some loose nukes in Pakistan that might just trigger World War III if Will’s diplomatic efforts fall short. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

DROOD by Dan Simmons (Historical Thriller)
On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, Charles Dickens hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Narrated by Dickens’s friend, Wilkie Collins, DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to his final, unfinished work: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE MESSENGER by Jan Burke (Supernatural Thriller)
Beneath the Caribbean Sea, a salvage diver hears an eerie voice calling to him from the wreckage of a 19th-century ship. In return for promised riches, the diver becomes the servant of Adrian deVille, Lord Varre, the creature who has called to him. It's a bargain the diver will come to regret. Reviewed by Lori Lamothe.

THE LAST DAY by John Ramsey Miller (Thriller)
On the edge of the North Carolina woods, behind an isolated modern house, the watcher patiently waits. He knows all about the couple who lives there --- a talented surgeon and a successful businessman. He knows all about the people in their lives. He knows they are numb with grief. And he knows what is going to happen next --- and why. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Linda Fairstein
Similar to previous installments in the bestselling Alex Cooper series, author Linda Fairstein sets her latest novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in another famous Manhattan landmark, this time giving her readers a behind-the-scenes peek inside the New York Public Library. In this interview with's Maggie Harding, Fairstein discusses what fascinated her about this cultural institution and describes some of the rarities she found amidst her research there. She also explains how she constructs her complex plots, muses on how her former career in the District Attorney's office gave her the discipline she needs as a writer, and reveals what notable locales will appear in the next book in the series.

Author Talks
Kathryn Stockett
Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, THE HELP, examines a rarely covered subject: the complex relationship between white Southern families and their black domestic servants in the 1960s. In this interview, Stockett reminisces about her own childhood experiences with her family's maid and discusses her hesitation --- as a white woman from Mississippi --- to write from the perspectives of African-American women. She also describes the research she performed to get a feel for the atmosphere and attitudes of the time, shares what surprised her most from the people she interviewed, and reveals the real-life inspirations behind her main characters.

T. C. Boyle
T.C. Boyle, whose previous novels have centered on historical figures such as John Harvey Kellogg and Alfred C. Kinsey, tackles Frank Lloyd Wright in his latest work of fiction, THE WOMEN. In this interview, Boyle explains what attracted him to these strong personalities and points out the differences between Wright's creative process and his own. He also compares historical and contemporary fiction, shares his experiences living in a house designed by the famous architect himself, and discusses his current and future projects.

Jayne Anne Phillips
Jayne Anne Phillips, a writing professor and author of several award-winning novels and short story collections, recently published her latest work of fiction, LARK AND TERMITE (her first in nine years). In this interview, Phillips recalls a decades-old memory that planted the seeds for her protagonist and sheds light on the complexities of his character. She also shares her thoughts on the spiritual and emotional bonds among family members, discusses the real-life events during the Korean War that inspired the book's plot, and offers advice to aspiring novelists. Bets On…
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
Set in 1963, THE HELP is the story of three women --- two African-American maids in the Deep South and a young white woman who sees a story in the world that they live in. You hear the voices, see the houses and truly feel like a voyeur in their world. I found myself reaching for my advance reading copy of the book between present opening, dinner preparations and other holiday festivities in December. Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are strong characters, and the stories they tell speak volumes about the time. Stockett closes the book with a piece about her family's maid, which shows why she could write this novel with such insight and honesty. No matter what your political views about our new president, reading THE HELP and seeing the world 46 years ago when the right to vote was something that was fought over, and not taken for granted, is interesting.
-- Click here to read an excerpt.
-- Click here to see the Reading Group Guide for THE HELP.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
FAULT LINE by Barry Eisler
CIA agent-turned-novelist Barry Eisler is the bestselling author of the John Rain novels, which have won the Barry and Gumshoe Awards and have been translated into nearly 20 languages. In his first stand-alone thriller, FAULT LINE, Eisler delivers a fast-paced story in which two estranged brothers --- one a Silicon Valley lawyer, the other an undercover military operative --- must put aside decades of resentment and hurt to thwart a deadly techno-conspiracy. FAULT LINE will be available in stores on March 10th.
-- Click here to read Barry Eisler’s bio.
-- Click here to read Barry Eisler’s bibliography.

HEART OF ICE by Gregg Olsen
A New York Times bestselling author, Gregg Olsen has written seven nonfiction books, three novels and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child. As a journalist and true crime author, Olsen has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his writing. In HEART OF ICE, his new thriller releasing on February 24th, Sherriff Emily Kenyon must stop a serial killer who is targeting young women.
-- Click here to read Gregg Olsen’s bio.
-- Click here to read Gregg Olsen's bibliography.

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