‘Lark and Termite’
By Jayne Anne Phillips (Knopf, $24)
Lark, a young 17-year-old girl on the verge of adulthood, Termite, her brother who is unable to walk and talk, and their caretaker aunt, Nonie, are at the center of the latest novel by Jayne Anne Phillips, her first in nine years. The story unfolds over two six-day periods in July, one in 1959 and the other nine years before. Set in rural West Virginia and against the backdrop of the Korean War, this book is filled with interesting characters, vivid locales and a crisp narrative that makes the heart sing. Phillip writes with such insight and elegance, she proves once again that she has not lost her magic literary touch.
‘Bloodprint: A Novel of Psychological Suspense’
By Kitty Sewell (Touchstone, $24.99)
In her much anticipated second novel, Sewell introduces readers to Madeleine Frank, a psychotherapist, and Rachel Locklear, her patient. Locklear, a woman desperate to escape an abusive lover and raise their son away from his sordid business of human trafficking in London, places her doctor in danger in this chilling story of relentless suspense and unexpected plot twists.
By Samantha Harvey (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $24.95)
Jacob Jacobson, a 65-year-old suffering from Alzheimer’s, once was a successful architect but now realizes that his life has come apart. He is haunted by such questions as what has happened to his daughter, what became of the money his mother left to him, and how has he ended up in a relationship with a woman he doesn’t love but, instead, pities? This story of guilt and betrayal is told from the point of view of a man grappling with the repercussions of a disease that afflicts millions. Key points in his life are revealed through a series of stories that change, repeat, and distort as the disease breaks down his reason and destroys what is left of his memory.
By Barry Eisler (Ballantine Books, $25)
When the eccentric inventor of a new encryption application is murdered in the Silicon Valley in an apparent drug deal, a cynical undercover agent in Istanbul receives a frantic call from his estranged brother warning him that he could be the next victim. Alex and Ben Treven unite despite their bitterness to wage a desperate battle against a faceless enemy. Eisler, a former covert operative for the CIA, serves up a gripping thriller that will have readers gnawing their fingernails until the final explosive page.
‘Trucking Country: The Road to America’s Wal-Mart Economy’
By Shane Hamilton (Princeton University Press, $29.95)
The author, an assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia, wonders why working-class populist voters continue to support conservative politicians who don’t represent their financial interests. Hamilton challenges the popular notion that “red state” conservatism is merely a devil’s bargain between culturally conservative rural workers and economically conservative demagogues in the Republican Party and insists that it is much more complex. Instead, he builds a convincing case that the deregulatory policies triggered by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and the truckers who move cheap goods across America have contributed to what is this country’s Wal-Mart mentality.
‘The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy by the Team at the Boston Globe’
Edited by Peter S. Canellos (Simon & Schuster, $28)
Seventy-six-year-old Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts was once described by John McCain as “the last lion” in the U.S. Senate. Even though he was thought to have the least political potential of the three Kennedy brothers – Jack, Robert and Ted – his legacy as a power broker and legislator during his 40 years in Washington is unequaled and certain to leave a lasting imprint on the fabric of our nation. This highly readable, meticulously researched and balanced biography is written by the staff of The Boston Globe and presents Kennedy’s life – warts and all – drawing on input from family and members of his inner circle.
‘Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners’
By Alan Emmins (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $24.95)
Neal Smither, owner of a hugely successful California company called Crime Scene Cleaners Inc., makes his living cleaning up after murders, suicides and accidents. Smither and his crew are the brave souls who step in after CSI has stepped out, and their story is told with focus and just enough dark humor to keep the narrative palatable. Filled with eye-opening, gut-wrenching details, Emmins, who has written for such publications as the New York Post, GQ, and Playboy, reveals that certain wall surfaces are the easiest to clean of blood, brain matter dries quickly and is simple to remove, and skull fragments are the trickiest because they can bounce upon impact and be almost impossible to gather.
‘The Accountant’s Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel’
Told by Pablo Escobar’s Brother, Roberto Escobar with David Fisher (Grand Central Publishers, $26.99)
Roberto Escobar was an accountant for his brother’s drug cartel, a multibillion dollar dope operation based in Colombia. From that vantage point, he witnessed the brutality and daily operations up close and personal. Since the cartel smuggled at least 15 tons of cocaine into the United States each day, Roberto reveals how $1,000 was spent each week for rubber bands just so the stacks of cash could be wrapped that flooded into their coffers. After serving 10 years in a South American jail, Roberto was released and he vowed to set the record straight by sharing his first-hand account about the harsh world of money, drugs and crime, all told from a unique perspective.
‘The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life’
By Ben Sherwood (Grand Central Publishers, $25.99)
Every hour of the day, 136 people lose their jobs in America and 80 families are evicted from their homes. On the health front, 160 people are diagnosed with cancer, another 171 are victimized by crime and 330 are injured in car crashes each hour. Who survives and thrives and who doesn’t is at the core of this fascinating book. Award-winning journalism Sherwood reveals the hidden side of life and death including why some people are born more resilient than others, why regular religious observances can add as many as seven years to your life, why birthdays and holidays can be hazardous to your health, and why some people really do have all the luck while others are more accident prone. In pursuit of the secrets of survival, Sherwood even had himself genetically tested to see if he possessed the so-called Resilience Gene.
‘The Commission: What We Didn’t Know About 9/11′
By Philip Shenon (Twelve, $15.99)
Shenon, a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, reveals in shocking detail how senior investigators on the 9/11 Commission were convinced they were manipulated by its executive director to minimize criticism of the Bush administration to help ensure George W. Bush’s re-election. He documents the secret relationship between Karl Rove and the executive director of the Commission, how the Commission was used to justify the invasion in Iraq, and the steps the Bush administration took to destroy the credibility of Richard Clarke during his testimony to the panel. This remarkable book shines light in the dark corners of our government and shows just how dysfunctional the entire government was in the run-up to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
‘Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping’
By Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster, $16)
This new and completed revised edition of the national best-seller is an essential guide offering advice on how to attract and keep customers based on information gleaned from thousands of hours of field research in shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets across America. Retail guru Paco Underhill, founder and CEO of Envirosell, Inc., documents with wit and insight the struggle among merchants, marketers and consumers for control.
‘After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation’
By Giles MacDonogh (Basic Books, $18.95)
For defeated Germans, the end of WWII brought an uneasy peace. The country, divided into four zones of occupation, was controlled by vengeful military forces that were all too comfortable in their new positions of power. MacDonogh, author of several previous histories and a regular contributor to the Financial Times, presents a bold reframing of the aftermath of the war, drawing upon the first-person accounts of civilians who survived the war only to find themselves in a hellish peace.
‘The Weiser Concise Guide to Herbal Magick’
By Judith Hawkins-Tillirson (Weiser Books, $12.95)
Herbalist and occultist Hawkins-Tillirson combines lore and practical instruction in the use of herbs that are classically associated with magick. From mugwort to mandrake, nightshade to aloe, this fascinating reference is informative as well as entertaining.