‘Bruno: Chief of Police’
By Martin Walker (Knopf, $24.95)
Bruno Courreges is the only police officer on the force in a small French village, but he is known nevertheless as the chief of police throughout the region. He has a gun but never wears it and has the power to arrest but never uses it. A murder changes everything and when a young investigator is dispatched from Paris to help him solve the case, the situation becomes even more complicated. This wonderfully crafted novel is as satisfying as a French pastry but with none of the guilt or calories.
By Robert Dugoni (Touchstone, $25)
Attorney David Sloan agrees to help a widow in her case against the government even though he knows that the cards are clearly stacked against him. A decades-old military doctrine might make the case impossible to win but being a former soldier himself, he agrees to accept the challenge. As he begins to dig deeper into his investigation, his wife and son become the target of a relentless killer. A quantum leap in both terror and suspense, this novel crackles with high-velocity thrills.
‘Just Take My Heart’
By Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $25.95)
A mysterious, but medically documented phenomenon associated with heart transplants, namely the transference of memories and personality traits from donor to recipient, is at the center of Higgins Clark’s latest thriller. Emily Wallace, an assistant prosecutor, is assigned a case that involves a prominent theatrical agent who is charged with the murder of his estranged wife, a Broadway star. Clever plot twists, a crisp narrative, and fully developed characters make this must-reading for mystery enthusiasts.
‘The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund’
By Jill Kargman (Dutton, $25.95)
Holly Talbott is married to the founder of a huge New York hedge fund. Tired of her lifestyle that includes pointless lunches, botox, and a husband who has other interests, she finds that she is forced to choose between compromising her integrity or living honestly. She begins by shedding her husband and many of her old friends. Hilarious dialogue, unforgettable characters and an exhilarating plot make this sardonic tale perfect escapism.
By Richard Mason (Knopf, $25.95)
Set in present day London, this brutally honest novel begins when a mother and daughter set out to choose an assisted-living facility. As the story unfolds, it addresses such issues as the relationships of mothers and daughters, aging and death, memory and longing, history and narrative, and even the cost of truthfully facing life itself. Mason is enormously gifted and his latest book is nothing less than a literary feast.
By Toni Morrison (Knopf, $23.95)
Why is it when I read Morrison’s latest novel, I had the feeling that she is resting on her laurels and simply coasting on her literary reputation? Despite the praises of other critics, I did not find this story “magical and mystical,” but rather predictable and as forced as a winter tulip.
‘The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life’
By Lauretta Hannon (Gotham Books, $24)
A Cracker Queen is a strong, authentic Southern woman who is the anti-Southern belle. She holds her head and cigarette high, has an earthy sense of humor and can open up a can of whup-ass as needed. As the author points out, you don’t have to be toothless to enjoy her new book, just human. Set in rural Georgia, her stories include the escapades of her Crazy Aunt Carrie, The Goat Man and even her mama smuggling cigarettes to chain gangs. Based on her NRP commentaries for “All Things Considered” and her one-woman show, this wonderfully written book is the perfect anecdote for our present hard times.
‘One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food’
By Michael Schaffer (Henry Holt, $24)
Former editor and reporter Schaffer is convinced that dogs have become “fur babies” in almost every American household. After adopting a mistreated St. Bernard puppy in rural Pennsylvania, the author found himself being drawn into the very epicenter of our pet culture. In his new book, he introduces readers to such people as those who will spend their life savings on medical treatments for their pets and breeders who put potential owners through intensive screenings before finalizing an adoption. He also exposes the darker side of the pet industry by going undercover to puppy mills, interviewing those touched by the tainted pet food scandal, and exploring legal battles that are often triggered by a pet’s mistreatment or untimely death.
‘Boss of Bosses: A Journey Into the Heart of the Sicilian Underworld’
By Clare Longrigg (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.95)
Bernardo Provenzano was born in the small Sicilian town of Corleone in 1933, and dropped out of school when he was 8 years old. He later joined the criminal syndicate in Corleone, eventually becoming the head of the Sicilian Mafia, a deadly empire of corruption so large in scope, the full sweep of its dark reach has yet to be fully accounted. Acclaimed London-based crime writer Longrigg draws on her experience, contacts, and unprecedented access and interviews with prosecutors and law enforcement officials to take readers into the belly of the beast.
‘Healing Through Exercise: Scientifically-Proved Way to Prevent and Overcome Illness – and Lengthen Your Life’
By Jorg Blech (Da Capo, $26)
Blech, a Massachusetts-based science writer, claims that 60 percent of the world’s population is described as sedentary, and treatment for sedentary citizens in the United States burns through more than $75 billion dollars a year. With a health care system in crisis and deaths from cancer and heath disease on the rise, exercise might be one of the solutions. Blech points to new research in neuroscience that links exercise to brain cell growth, Alzheimer’s prevention and even the treatment of psychological mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADHD.
‘Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found’
By Allegra Huston (Simon & Schuster, $26.95)
Huston, daughter of the brilliant, eccentric and notoriously womanizing filmmaker John Huston, was 4 and living in London when her mother was killed in an automobile accident. From that day until her late adolescence, she became an involuntary nomad, shuttled across a continent and a country, often as a temporary guest in other people’s homes. Lonely and haunted by the death of her mother, Allegra eventually discovers the wealth of family and accepts it as a hard-won blessing of her mother’s legacy to her. Skillfully written and rich with personal detail, this is a tumultuous story of loss, healing and redemption.
‘Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood’
By Donovan Campbell (Random House, $26)
If you’ve been waiting for a great book to be written about the Iraq war experience, this could be it. Campbell graduated with honors from Princeton and Harvard Business School. He finished first in his class at the Marines’ Basic Officer Course and served three combat deployments, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. His book is the story of his platoon, known by its radio call sign “Joker One.” This platoon, which included country boys, small-town jocks, a few Hispanics, and a single black, was assigned to one of Iraq’s worse hot spots: the city of Ramadi. His intense account is an emotional literary gut-punch that will linger long after the last page has been read.
‘The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World’s Fiercest Food Fight’
By Mark Caro (Simon & Schuster, $25)
It all began when superstar chef Charlie Trotter announced he thought foie gras harvesting cruel and removed it from the menu in his world-renowned Chicago restaurant. It became international news and triggered one of the most heated food fights in decades. Caro, an entertainment reporter for the Chicago Tribute and the first to report on the Trotter story, serves up a meticulously researched, downright stupefying story that is certain to leave many readers with a slight case of literary indigestion.
‘The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire & the Birth of an Obsession’
By Andrea Wulf (Knopf, $35)
In 1733, an American farmer dispatched two boxes of plants and seeds to a London cloth merchant. Most of the plants he sent had never before been grown in British soil but in time many – including trees, evergreens and shrubs – transformed the English landscape and garden forever. This highly readable and fascinating account documents the personalities and events that help germinate gardening as we know it today. Peppered with colorful characters and resplendent in historic detail, this brilliantly executed book is a horticultural delight.
‘The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq’
By Helen Benedict (Beacon Press, $25.95)
Since March 2003, more than 160,500 women have served in the war in Iraq. More women have fought and died in this war than in any other since WWII, yet they account for only 1 in 10 soldiers. This disturbing new book centers on the stories of five courageous and diverse women who returned from war at very different stages in their lives. Weaving together poignant and often grueling accounts, Benedict offers an intimate look into the lives of women in the military, before, during and after the war.
‘Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living’
By Bailey White (Da Capo, $14)
White has become a fixture on National Public Radio. Her indelible vignettes of Southern eccentricity have attracted listeners throughout the country. In this collection of essays, another group of “characters” are trotted out for our amusement. Included are Uncle Jimbuddy, who keeps losing pieces of himself, and Aunt Belle, who has an alligator she has taught to bellow on command. Pass the corn pone and enjoy.
‘Mistress of the Sun’
By Sandra Gulland (Touchstone, $16)
Historical novelist Gulland presents the legendary horsewoman, Louise de la Valliere, an eccentric woman of humble background and – against all odds – the mistress of King Louis XIV, as the focal point of her novel, first published in 2008. A 17th-century love story wrapped in a mystery, this is a carefully crafted, historically accurate, irresistible tale.
‘On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not’
By Robert A. Burton (St. Martin’s Press, $14.95)
This is a fascinating view of how we construct our own realities, and the passion with which we will stand by them once created – no matter their veracity. This highly readable book is written with a scholarly grace by a California-based neurologist.
‘How to WOW: Proven Strategies for Selling Your (Brilliant) Self in Any Situation’
By Frances Cole Jones (Ballantine Books, $15)
With unemployment inching toward double digits, American workers need all of the help they can get. This dandy little guide is based on the simple premise that every encounter is a presentation or interview. The author, a corporate coach who has helped numerous CEOs, celebrities, and public personalities present their best selves on camera and onstage, in boardrooms, and in person, shares her tips and secrets for success.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
‘Kitty Kit: Enjoying Your New Cat’
By Peter Neville (St. Martin’s Press, $19.95)
This fun, user-friendly kit is everything you need to welcome a new kitty into the family home. In addition to a food dish, a toy ball and mouse, there is a Kitty Care book that includes essential advice on such topics as choosing a kitten, preparing for its arrival, healthful diet, behavior and play, which will help the new arrival get off on the right paw.
By David Mraz with illustrations by Margot Apple (Tricycle Press, $15.99)
Round things like pebbles and marbles and bubbles remind Little Goose of something, but what? In this delightful book by Mraz, a reading instructor for the Albuquerque, N.M., Public Schools, and illustrated by Margot Apple, a Massachusetts-based artist, young readers discover the singular bond that exists between mother and child. (Ages 3 to 5)