Book Passage President Elaine Petrocelli selects her favorite new books and provides a review about her selections in each issue of the Book Passage News & Reviews.
These books are also displayed in each branch of the Bank of Marin, as part of the program Partnership for Literacy sponsored by Book Passage and Bank of Marin. Visit any branch of the bank to find out more about this program.
Cara Black’s protagonist Aimee Leduc inherited the detective agency after her father was killed in an explosion at the Place Vendome. Why? When she receives word that a woman who may have information about her father’s death is dying, she rushes to the woman’s hospital room—but the woman has disappeared. This is Black’s 15th Aimee LeDuc novel, and it’s a gem. Some signed first printings.
Come to Arthurian England where an old couple set out on a journey to find their long missing son. As they travel through the mist, they are searching for memories that they hope will aid their quest. But memories can be deceiving and perhaps some are really dreams. The deeper they go, the more they learn of themselves, each other, and the world. With his subtle hand and mesmerizing writing, the author of Remains of the Day unveils a tale with plenty of wisdom for today. Some signed first printings.
Fed by vicious media, over half the country detests the president. Drug gangs and smugglers move in out of Mexico and armed vigilante groups are amassed at the Arizona border. It isn’t 2015, it’s 1881 and everyone involved in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, has a political agenda. The author of The Sparrow and Doc brings it all to life in a stunning epic. Some signed first printings.
World War I is raging, the Germans have announced they are stepping up submarine attacks on civilian shipping, the Lusitania is carrying a record number of passengers from New York to London (and some secret war materials)—what could possibly go wrong? Eric Larson has a way of taking a slice of history and using it to illuminate an era. In this harrowing page-turner the author of In the Garden of Beasts keeps the reader on edge, deftly switching the story back and forth from the ship and its passengers to the U-boat that is in pursuit. Some signed first printings.
Billy Graves’ problems as a detective with the NYPD got him assigned to the Night Watch. Invariably, each time his crew discovers something important, it gets referred to the day shift. Many cops speak of killers they know are guilty—yet can’t catch—as “whites” after the elusive white whale in Moby Dick. When several “whites” turn up dead, Billy suspects his former colleagues. Price/Brandt never hits a false note, as he balances Billy’s cop world with that of his family and old friends. I don’t know why Price has a different name here, but under either name, this guy writes a whale of a story. Some signed first printings.
The country is immersed in World War II and Joe Coughlin has become a respected Tampa businessman with his own charitable foundation. He’s been widowed for 10 years and is raising an adorable son. In fact, he’s the consigliere to a crime family. He travels between Florida and his late wife’s home in Cuba, doing deals with everyone from the US Navy to Batista to the Lansky-Luciano mob. Lehane explores good and evil, loyalty and double dealing, and the bond between father and son as he takes us on a wild adventure through a murderous world. Some signed first printings.
In the spring of 1937, on a reluctant journey back to England, Maisie Dobbs decides to stop in Gibraltar. The ship’s captain tells her it’s a dangerous place but Maisie insists on disembarking. When a Sephardic Jewish photographer is murdered, Maisie becomes involved in finding out how and why this man was killed. The authorities want her to go away. Planes from several nations including Germany and, Italy are flying over the “Rock”. Double and triple agents seem to be everywhere. Whom can Maisie trust in this nest of intrigue? Some signed first printings.
A Kim Jong-Il Production has all the aspects of a mesmerizing thriller with incredible characters and heart stopping scenes. But it isn’t fiction. Fischer shines light on this mysterious and frightening country in a story that begins with the kidnapping of a movie star and her filmmaker husband by the twisted dictator of North Korea. To say that their escape after years in captivity is terrifying can’t begin to describe the planning and luck that made it possible. Thanks to Paul Fisher’s research and reporting, we can almost smell the fear instilled in the privileged few who have luxuries beyond belief, yet can lose it all at the whim of the despotic rulers. This book continues to haunt me. Some signed first printings.
Father Yates became a priest in the 1970’s when the Catholic Church was Ireland’s most respected institution. He wanted to serve and was careful to stay away from politics and gossip. Years later, he is assigned to a boy’s school to replace a priest who is accused of pedophilia. The accused was Father Yates’ roommate in the seminary. In spite of institutional cover ups, more and more horrible facts surface. Many of Father Yates colleagues are tried and or incarcerated. Forced to face thentruth about friends, he begins to face hisnown complicity. A History of Loneliness is a novel that brilliantly unveils the truth. Some signed first printings.
Before visiting her son, NPR host Scott Simon and his family, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman decided to get her persistent cough checked out. Unfortunately, tests confirmed the vehement return of lung cancer. Scott flew to Chicago and found her in intensive care with only days to live. As mother and son remembered, laughed and cried together, the tweets Scott sent from her bedside let people all over then world share the final journey of this bountiful woman. She was gorgeous, generous, and smart. Scott’s father was a professional comedian, but his mother’s wit and comedic timing were perfect to the very end. Some signed first printings.
How did a couple of teenage girls, a nursing home patient, an orderly and a not quite successful radio producer manage to become 21st century pirates? With Daniel Handler’s skill and ability to illuminate everything from teen age angst to Alzheimer’s, anything is possible. Handler is best known for his Lemony Snicket tales, but readers of his adult fiction know that he has uncanny way of exploring the frightening unknown. Handler’s warmth and sympathy for his characters as they face chaos and uncertainty brings depth to the novel. And, at just the right moment, he can be delightfully funny. Some signed first printings.
It’s 1948 and we join Alex Meier, a Jewish author who escaped the Nazis before the War, as he returns to Soviet controlled East Berlin. Why? After Alex refused to cooperate during the McCarthy hearings in the US Congress, he lost everything. He’s even been forbidden to have contact with his son. The newly formed CIA has offered him a deal. Return to Berlin as our spy. After you get us what we want, we’ll bring you home with your record cleared. Alex finds Berlin reeking with espionage and blackmail, and he is soon assigned to spy on the woman he has long adored. Her affair with a powerful Soviet makes her a target of both the CIA and the German Secret Police. Murder, corruption, evil and great characters make Leaving Berlin a not to be missed thriller. Some signed first printings.
In these gorgeous essays Jane Hirschfield speaks of a window as the way a word, phrase, or shift in tone ‘opens’ something for the reader. She talks of the importance of surprise and uncertainty while including particular poems to illustrate points. She speaks of the layers of meaning and how questions we ask about poems can answer questions about ourselves. Hirschfield says poetry transcends reason because reason “cannot and does not encompass the whole of life”. Some signed first printings.