Six New Novels: A Mysterious Murder in Britain, Kidnapping of an Archeologist, the Human Body Parts Business, and a Nazi’s Obsession With a Jewish Philosopherby Larry Cox on Feb. 29, 2012, under Uncategorized
Country of the Bad Wolfes by James Carlos Blake (Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95)
This riveting new historical novel by award-winning author, James Carlos Blake, is based in part on his own ancestors.
The saga of the Wolfe family spans three generations and plays out against the backdrops of New England, Mexico, and Texas. Begat by an Irish-English pirate in New Hampshire in 1828, a set of identical twins sets out for war-turn Mexico. They quickly become involved in the violence of the period, their fortunes intertwined with those of Porfirio Diaz, a leader overthrown during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
How the Wolfe family prospers and grows in power while forging a personal history steeped in violence is the main thread of this beautifully crafted book. The family’s day of reckoning at the Rio Grande in Texas is riveting and a satisfying conclusion to this awesome multi-layered story that is rich in historic detail and featuring memorable characters.
This epic narrative flows with all of the turbulence of a raging river and reflects the writing skills of James Carlos Blake at its very best. His latest book takes the historic novel to an entirely new place, due in no small part to his remarkable insight which fuels his narratives with such authenticity and truth. This is why “Country of the Bad Woldes” is such an exceptional piece of modern fiction.
James Carlos Blake was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas and Florida. He is the author of nine previous novels, including “In Rogue Blood,” which won the LA Times Book Prize in 1997.
The Confession: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (William Morrow, $25.99)
In 1920, Wyatt Russell, a man dying of cancer, walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years previously. Inspector Ian Rutledge is assigned to the case but when he presses the man for more details, Russell is evasive and even refuses to explain a motive for the murder. Rutledge follows the scant information he has to a cloistered village east of London near the North Sea. Although it is obvious to Rutledge that he man is confessing to a crime he didn’t commit, the investigation takes an unexpected turn when less than two weeks later Russell’s body is found floating in the Thames, a bullet in the back of his head. The only clue is a gold locket found around the dead man’s neck. Rutledge discovers the man was not who he claimed to be and then attempts to identify the victim so he can find out the name of the man’s killer.
As Rutledge’s investigation intensifies, he suddenly finds himself with not one but three bodies with only a tenuous connection to the small English village in Essex.
This 14th mystery featuring Inspector Rutledge is an absorbing piece of writing, guaranteed to capture and hold readers to the very last page.
Charles Todd will attend the Tucson Festival of Books Friday, March 9th.
The Jaguar: A Charlie Hood Novel by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton, $26.95)
Charlie Hood, a deputy with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, returns in the fifth novel in the “Hood” series, and the third in Parker’s “Border Quartet.” It is an epic tale that will take readers deep into the punishing Yucatan jungle.
When Erin McKenna, a cop’s wife and front woman for a popular LA-based band is kidnapped, her husband contacts Hood for help. Her captors, the powerful Gulf Cartel run by Benjamin Armenta, demand more than ransom money. Armenta wants Erin to compose a song based on his life, a narcocorrido, which he demands must be the greatest ever written.
As Erin attempts to write the right words for the song that might set her free, Hood makes his way through the jungle with a million dollars in ransom. Will she be rescued in time and more importantly, why did the cartel kidnap her in the first place?
The Charlie Hood novels are nothing less than addictive. T. Jefferson Parker, who has written eighteen previous novels, is based in southern California.
Raylan by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow, $26.99)
Even though marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in Harlan County, Kentucky, an even bigger moneymaker is the cash a human body can bring, especially if it is parted out and sold piece by piece.
When Dickie and Coover Crowe, two dope-dealing brothers, decide to branch out into the body business, it attracts the attention of Federal Marshall Raylan Givens, especially after discovering a naked man in a bathtub, doped up and missing his kidneys.
Givens, the inspiration for the FX series, “Justified,” starring Timothy Olyphant, finds his work cut out for him, literally. In Leonard’s latest novel, the bad guys are women including a transplant nurse, a mine company executive who shoots a miner, and a high-stakes poker player who skips her court date and is rumored to be robbing banks with a group of strippers in Kentucky.
Suspense laced with nimble dialogue and unexpected plot twists, this is a story that is original in every sense of the word.
The Hope Vendetta by Scott Mariani (Touchstone, $25)
Ben Hope, ex-SAS operative and hero-for-hire, returns in this second book in Mariani’s international thriller series.
Hope is ready to put his gun down for good and return to the theology studies he had abandoned years ago when his professor and friend asks for help in finding his missing daughter, archeologist Zoe Bradbury. Ben declines but gives the assignment to his former SAS buddy, Charlie Palmer. When Charlie runs into trouble on the Greek island of Corfu, Ben reluctantly joins him to find Zoe. Ben finds that Zoe’s most recent archeological discovery of an artifact is related to the Book of Revelation might be why she has been kidnapped. What is the ancient secret that Zoe has uncovered and who is willing to do anything to protect it? To find the answers, Ben must travel from the Greek Islands to Savannah, Georgia, and to the holy city of Jerusalem.
The Ben Hope series is fast-paced and thrilling. This latest installment is no exception.
Scott Mariani is based in Wales.
The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom (Basic Books, $29)
Baruch Spinoza was a 17th-century philosopher who is mostly remembered today for his controversial ideas including his denial the soul’s immortality which led to his eventual excommunication from the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656 when he was twenty-four. Even though he lived out most of his life in isolation, he continued to produce works that changed the course of history.
Fast forward to Germany’s Nazi regime. When ERR troopers under the orders of leader Alfred Rosenberg storm into the Spinoza Museum in Rijnsburg to confiscate Spinoza’s personal library, the act is justified by Rosenberg who claims that the books and papers are “of great importance for the exploration of the Spinoza problem.”
In this highly intriguing novel, Irvin D. Yalom, a California-based professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, builds a plot around the obsession that the infamously anti-Semitic Rosenberg had with Spinoza, a Jew. Yalom seamlessly parallels the intellectual and personal lives of these two very different men in this engaging, erudite tale.
Yalom’s ability to make complex ideas and theories accessible is what makes his novels so popular. “The Spinoza Problem” gives readers a penetrating look at the perils inherent in seeking wisdom, and the dangers incumbent on anyone brave or foolish enough to attempt a philosophical life.