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Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, October 23rd.

The titles below are discussed in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens
THRILLER 2 edited by Clive Cussler
DARK DELICACIES III: HAUNTED edited by Del Howison, Jeff Gelb
ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin
CRASHERS by Dana Haynes

Reviews and Excerpts
WINDFALL by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Penny Vincenzi takes us behind closed doors of the glamorous and scandalous English aristocracy. The dutiful doctor’s wife, Cassia Tallow, has just inherited a large fortune from her godmother. Newly empowered, Cassia sheds her domestic burdens and re-forms old relationships --- one of them of a most dangerous kind. Too soon the windfall has become a corrupting force --- one that Cassia cannot resist. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from WINDFALL.

THE SCARPETTA FACTOR by Patricia Cornwell (Mystery)
Patricia Cornwell’s 17th novel in the Kay Scarpetta series finds the medical examiner and all her regular cohorts in the heart of New York City during the Christmas season. While negotiating for a series on CNN to be called “The Scarpetta Factor,” Scarpetta and her friends are thrust into a series of murders that not only may be related but also could lead to an old nemesis who is still hunting her. Reviewed by Ray Palen and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE SCARPETTA FACTOR.

SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy (Fiction)
Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, SOUTH OF BROAD gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SOUTH OF BROAD.
- Click here to see the reading group guide for SOUTH OF BROAD.

SMASHER: A Silicon Valley Thriller, by Keith Raffel (Thriller)
As Accelenet CEO Ian Michaels battles a ruthless Silicon Valley billionaire for control of his company, his wife, deputy D.A. Rowena Goldberg, is targeted for death by an unknown assassin. Michaels must use his brains and business acumen to navigate a deadly trail of corporate and academic hostility, greed and revenge as he races to find the assailant. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an except from SMASHER.

WHAT THE DOG SAW: And Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell (Psychology/Business)

Malcolm Gladwell is a talented writer with the ability to take ordinary people and events and find lessons about life. In the past decade, this talent has placed three of his books on bestseller lists around the world. WHAT THE DOG SAW is a collection of many of Gladwell’s early writings from his reporting days at The New Yorker. Entertaining and prescient observations about success, failure and human nature are his stock and trade. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

SPARTAN GOLD: A Fargo Adventure, by Clive Cussler with Grant Blackwood (Thriller/Action & Adventure)

When it comes to explosive, adrenaline-charged adventure, Clive Cussler is hailed as "the master of building suspense and tension." Now Cussler (along with co-author and U.S. Navy veteran Grant Blackwood) unveils his newest heroes, a husband-and-wife team who hunt treasure for a living --- even at the risk of dying. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BRIGHT-SIDED: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich (Current Affairs)
BRIGHT-SIDED takes dead aim at the whole idea of “positive thinking,” which, in its most extreme forms, tell us that we can have anything and everything we want if we just wish for it ardently enough. Part history, part social comment, part cautionary tale, this is a worthy successor to Ehrenreich’s two most recent books in a similar vein, NICKEL AND DIMED and BAIT AND SWITCH. Warning: If you are an incurable optimist, this book could be dangerous to your health. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, by Allison Hoover Bartlett (True Crime)
Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

FACES IN THE FIRE by T. L. Hines (Supernatural Thriller/Mystery)
Somewhere underneath the lives of the ordinary are the “bottom feeders,” those who blend in with everyone else but have something to hide or to run from. FACES IN THE FIRE enters the realm of the noir, telling a story of lost souls who have become trapped by their choices and whose experiences seem to be linked by one bizarre number. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

ONE AND THE SAME: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular, by Abigail Pogrebin (Memoir)
Abigail Pogrebin, an identical twin, shares her own poignant experience of being one half of this unique relationship. She also includes eye-opening tales from other twins and experts' findings and opinions, making for a fascinating read. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 by Kevin Rafferty (Sports)
In November 1968, undefeated Harvard met undefeated Yale in the final game of their football season. Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty initially decided that a documentary film of the game was a worthy subject. He succeeded brilliantly. HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 supplements the movie with material that might normally end up on the cutting-room floor of the editing room. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

Author Talk
Keith Raffel
Silicon Valley software entrepreneur turned thriller writer Keith Raffel once again explores the ruthlessness of corporate life in his second novel, SMASHER. In this interview, Raffel discusses how he transitioned between his two careers, and shares some of the imaginary and real-life influences behind the characters in his latest book. He also compares publishing a book to starting a company, sheds light on some of the less-than-glamorous aspects of life as an author, and reflects on how his hometown of Palo Alto, CA has evolved over the years.

2009 World Series Roundup
The titles featured in's 2009 World Series Roundup include:

THE MACHINE: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds by Joe Posnanski
GAME SIX: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America's Pastime by Mark Frost

PERFECT: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen by Lew Paper
THE ORIGINAL CURSE: Did the Cubs Throw the 1918 World Series to Babe Ruth's Red Sox and Incite the Black Sox Scandal? by Sean Deveney
THE FIRST FALL CLASSIC: The Red Sox, the Giants and the Cast of Players, Pugs and Politicos Who Re-Invented the World Series in 1912 by Mike Vaccaro

Historical Fiction Author Spotlight
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown
From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a powerfully moving novel celebrating the gifts, generosity and foresight of a great bygone generation. Centered around an independent woman who runs a Texas boarding house during the Dust Bowl and a mysterious boarder, RAINWATER tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from RAINWATER.

Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight
The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar --- and murder. As a shadow hangs over her friends' Christmas wedding, Hannah's determined to cook a killer's goose before anyone else gets burned.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from PLUM PUDDING MURDER.

Debut Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
MANIA by Craig Larson

Seattle newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has gained a reputation capturing gruesome homicide scenes on film. His latest assignment: Tracking an unpredictable, deranged serial killer terrorizing the dark, wet streets of Seattle. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick’s brother as his latest casualty, Nick suddenly finds himself on the other side of the hunt...


Determined to avenge his brother’s murder, Nick stumbles into a dizzying labyrinth of deceit and danger. The deeper he digs, the more the trail circles back to him --- and to the secrets locked in his disturbing past. As Nick zeroes in on the killer, the more he must risk to unmask the depraved psychopath haunting his every move. As the motives heighten and the suspects narrow, the cold, stark Seattle winter turns ever chillier...
- Click here to read a second excerpt from MANIA.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
URGE TO KILL by John Lutz
Homicide detective Frank Quinn can’t stay retired when there’s a new breed of murdering madman on the prowl. In a city terrorized by bloody brutality, Det. Quinn and his team hunt a psychopath who lures beautiful women into a night of unbridled passion, then wakes them to a vicious, drawn-out death. Stumbling over a trail of horribly defiled bodies, Quinn can’t catch the killer --- because the killer’s about to catch him.

The terrifying new thriller URGE TO KILL from New York Times bestselling author John Lutz is a gruesome, page-turning psychological serial killer crime novel that’s both frightening and fascinating. For a killer, once is never enough.
- Click here to read a third excerpt from URGE TO KILL.

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