In “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea (“The Hummingbird”), a family gathers for its dying patriarch last birthday party. What better occasion to explore regrets, recriminations and possibilities? This “kaleidoscopic fable of family life” (Washington Post) takes the Mexican out of Mexican-American, so that “the de La Cruzes will feel to many readers like their own relatives: exasperating, riven by loss, but full of juice” (Niranjana Roy) In “Halsey Street” by Naima Coster, an artist scraps her failing career to move back to Brooklyn and help her ailing father. But now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. As she negotiates the still-familiar streets, she attempts to define her place within her family, neighborhood, and artistic community. This is “the kind of novel that swallows you whole” (Kirkus).
UPS just made another Friday drop. New stories by CJ Box, Elizabeth George, Phillip Kerr, Jacqueline Winspear …
“Directorate S” by Steve Coll recounts the C.I.As wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I’ll be Gone in the Dark” by Michelle McNamara details one woman’s search to unmask a serial Killer. “The Red Web” by Andrei Soldatov offers an inside look at the Kremlin’s use of the internet for surveillance at home and stirring up trouble aboard.
Self-help form the Dismal Science? The man best know as the saint of self-interest (“The Wealth of Nations”), also wrote about the ties that bind. Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” argued that the root of well-being lies in family and and the regard of ones’s peers, not in fame or wealth. In “Adam Smith Can Change Your Life“, Russell Roberts treats these ideas as a framework for personal contentment. To Smith, this was the same basis for self-interest in the marketplace.
“The Square and the Tower” by Niall Ferguson looks at how social networks (the town square) foster change and disrupt traditional hierarchies (the tower). Networks, being less formal, are more open to innovation and change. From Roman catacombs to our founder’s committees of correspondence to Facebook, Ferguson shows how networks have changed history. In How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky looks at what happens when hierarchies ossify and the public square is closed. By looking at examples of failed democracies in Latin America and Eurpoe, Levitsky notes the points of no return and warns that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
These stories are fast-paced and tightly- plotted; nothing extra. In “The Kremlin Conspiracy” by Joel Rosenberg, a resurgent Russia plans to invade the Baltic States. In “The Woman Left Behind”, Linda Howard blends special forces action with romantic intrigue. Is it soup? In “The Escape Artist” by Brad Meltzer, a corpse sent to a government morgue turns out to be a fake. Where’s the real Sgt Nolan? In James Patterson’s “ Fifty Fifty” (is that the title or the number of JP releases this year?), a detective’s brother is accused of murder. Finally in “The Rising Sea” by Clive Cussler, the NUMA team is tasked with checking an alarming rise in sea levels.
The Mitford Murders” by Jessica Fellowes is a thrilling mystery based on an unsolved murder by a member of the Downton Abbey team. Heartfelt drama is available in “A Single Thread” by Marie Bostwick (friends and quilts) and ‘We were the Lucky Ones” (Holocaust survivors in love) by Georgia Hunter.