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What’s New at Skidompha            May 2017

New Non-Fiction
McCullough, David     American Spirit:  Who we are and what we stand for
At a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American.  He reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, or our political party, or our ethnicity, and which, he hopes, will guide us as we find our way forward.

Offit, Paul     Pandora’s Lab:  Seven stories of science gone wrong
History is filled with brilliant ideas that gave rise to disaster, and this book explores the most fascinating and significant missteps:  from opium's heyday as the pain reliever of choice to recognition of opioids as a major cause of death in the U.S.; from the rise of trans fats as the golden ingredient for tastier, cheaper food to the heart disease epidemic that followed; and from the cries to ban DDT for the sake of the environment to an epidemic-level rise in world malaria.  Because today’s good ideas can become tomorrow’s tragedies, these seven lessons are both cautionary and profound.

Agrawal, Anurag     Monarchs and Milkweed:  A migrating butterfly, a poisonous plant, and their remarkable story of coevolution
The monarch life cycle begins each spring when it deposits eggs on milkweed leaves. But this dependency of monarchs on milkweeds as food is not reciprocated, as milkweeds do all they can to poison or thwart the young monarchs. Using his pioneering research, the author demonstrates how plant poisons have not only shaped monarch-milkweed interactions but have also been culturally important for centuries.  He evaluates the current sustainability of monarchs and reveals a novel explanation for their plummeting numbers.

Verducci, Tom     The Cubs Way:  The zen of building the best team in baseball and breaking the curse
How did a team of untested young players and carefully selected veterans come together to break the longest championship drought in professional sports?  The author chronicles the Chicago team’s transformation step by step, focusing on the mental side of the game as much as the physical, emphasizing chemistry and character as well as statistics.

New Fiction
Shreve, Anita     The Stars Are Fire
This novel is based on the riveting true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history, when after a summer-long drought, flames broke out all along the Maine coast, racing out of control from village to village.  Here a 24-four-year-old woman left alone to protect her two toddlers spends an unimaginable night forced by the fire to huddle together in the sea.  Emerging at dawn to find their lives forever changed, they are homeless, penniless, and stranded in a town that no longer exists.

Kostova, Elizabeth     Shadow Land
Soon after arriving in Bulgaria, a young American helps an elderly couple into a taxi, realizing too late that she has accidentally held on to one of their bags.  Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name, and, raising the hinged lid, she discovers an urn filled with human ashes.  As she sets out to locate the family in order to return the box and its remains, she gradually uncovers the secrets of a talented musician shattered by oppression.  This will be knowledge fraught with its own kind of danger.

Deaver, Jeffery     The Burial Hour
When a businessman is snatched from an Upper East Side street in broad daylight, a miniature hangman’s noose is left at the scene, a nine-year-old girl the only witness to the crime.  A forensic detective investigating the abduction soon turns up bizarre evidence:  there’s a recording of the victim slowly being hanged, his desperate breaths the backdrop to an eerie piece of music.  When a similar kidnapping occurs on a dusty road outside of Naples, Italy, the case will require complex international cooperation.

Merullo, Roland     The Delight of Being Ordinary
What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama decide they need an undercover vacation? The two holy men decide to take an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countryside, shedding their robes for several days and living as ordinary men. Along for the ride will be the Pope’s neurotic cousin and personal assistant and the assistant’s estranged wife, an eccentric entrepreneur with a lust for life.  Part whimsy, part love story, part spiritual search, this novel explores universal concerns of family life, religious inspiration and personal identity.

Sandford, John     Golden Prey
A former agent for the Minnesota bureau of investigation is now a U.S. Marshal.  His current case takes him to Biloxi, Mississippi, where a drug-cartel counting house holds five bodies, including that of a child, and from which suitcases full of cash have disappeared.  Cartel assassins will race him to find the missing money, and things will get ugly very quickly.

Tinti, Hannah     The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
A loner who spent years living on the run has reared his beloved daughter on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that she’s a teenager, he wants only to give her a normal life, and so returns to his late wife’s hometown, finding work as a fisherman, while his daughter struggles to fit in at the local high school. Curious about the mother she never knew, she begins to investigate and encounters a hidden past made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body, each scar from a bullet he took over the course of his criminal career. It’s not long before the demons of her father’s past invade the present.

Michaels, Fern     High Stakes
When his old friend grows certain that his life is in danger, an investigative reporter recruits the help of a group of men sworn to fight corruption and greed on behalf of underdogs everywhere.  His friend works as a dancer at a supper club, a venue offering five-star cuisine and Chippendale-style entertainment, and which also functions as a convenient front for a major drug trafficking operation.   The friend is being watched; he fears it’s only a matter of time before he is eliminated.

Laditan, Bunmi     Confessions of a Domestic Failure
A career woman turned stay-at-home mom tries to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic, and Instagram-impressive mothers but is failing miserably. Suffering from this social pressure, she jumps at the chance to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog maven she idolizes.  Will it change her life?

Bockman, Fredrik     Beartown
A tiny community deep in the forest is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees.  An old ice rink, built generations earlier by the workers who founded the town, focuses their hope in their junior ice hockey team about to compete in the national semi-finals.  Unfortunately, the match will be a catalyst for a violent act that will leave a girl traumatized.  Accusations are made, no one is unaffected, and the town is in utter turmoil.

Scottoline, Lisa     One Perfect Lie
A man applying for a job as a high school government teacher, who is also willing to step in as an assistant baseball coach, has impeccable references. But everything about him is a lie. When he is discovered to be at the center of much distress among families whose children are his students, parents can wonder who he really is, why he’s there, and what he wants.

Sudjic, Olivia     Sympathy
A twenty-three-year-old leaves England for New York. She has become fixated on a Japanese writer living in New York whose life story has strange parallels to her own and who she believes is her “Internet twin.” What seems like their chance encounter is anything but:  after all, in the age of connectivity, nothing is coincidence. Their subsequent relationship is doomed from the outset, exposing a tangle of lies and sexual encounters as three families across the globe collide, and the most ancient of questions—where do we come from?—is answered just by searching online. 

Donlay, Philip     Seconds to Midnight
While flying over northern Canada to gather info about solar flares, a team of eco-scientists sees a Boeing 737 attempt to make an emergency landing. When they rescue the crash's lone survivor from the icy waters, the survivor whispers, ‘Don't let them know I'm alive – they'll kill everyone.’  The race to get to the bottom of the crash leads to arms dealers, spies, sex traffickers, and Russian nationalists, all somehow tied to this woman, and to what happened on that plane, and to the fate of the world.

Patterson, James     Two from the Heart
Two short novels comprise this book.  In one, a woman who loses her home and all of her family photos in a hurricane realizes that she has lost touch with what matters most.  She takes to the road on a cross-country trip to ask long-lost family, friends and strangers a simple question:  what’s your best story?  In the second tale, a wealthy businessman enjoying every success realizes there’s one thing he doesn’t have – a life.  So he hires a struggling novelist to write one for him.  The result goes beyond his wildest imagination.  But if the world he’s created becomes too real for all involved, will he be able to write himself a happy ending?

Patterson, James     16th Seduction
What seems like an open and shut case to husband-and-wife detectives turns out to threaten everything they have worked a lifetime to build.  They are facing a criminal as brilliant as any high-powered defense lawyer and the key to a deadly conspiracy.

McCall Smith, Alexander     My Italian Bulldozer
When a renowned food writer finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer, his editor encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on site in Tuscany, hoping that the change will offer a cure for both heartache and writer’s block.  But upon his arrival, a mishap with his rental car reservation leaves him stranded, until a newfound friend offers an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.  The dozer carries him to delightful villages in the lush Tuscan countryside, to colorful local characters, and maybe to someone new to love.

El Akkad, Omar     American War
A child is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074.  But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that her home state of Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky.  When her father is killed and her family forced into a camp for displaced persons, she grows up shaped by these bizarre circumstances.  Eventually, she is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

Lustbader, Eric van     The Fallen
In a hidden cave in the mountains of Lebanon, a man makes a fateful discovery:  he will bring what has been forbidden for thousands of years into the light – the Testament of Lucifer.  Suddenly an unfathomable danger arises in the form of Lucifer’s advance guard, and humankind is at risk of being enslaved by the forces of evil.

Jewell, Lisa     I Found You
In a windswept British seaside town, a single mom encounters a man sitting on the beach near her home, lightly dressed with no idea of who he is or how he came to be there.  Against her better judgment, she invites him in.  As the days go by, she has mixed feeling about his memory returning, but he gets disturbing flashes of his former self, and that’s not good.

Baldacci, David     The Fix
A detective who can forget nothing witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters, an execution-style shooting of a woman on a crowded sidewalk, then the shooter’s suicide.  Even with his extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, he will find no connection between the shooter, a family man with a successful consulting business, and his victim, a schoolteacher.

Currie, Ron     One-eyed Man
Since the death of his wife, a man has been taking everything literally, from sarcasm to bumper stickers and marketing phrases, resulting in semantic squabbles with friends and strangers, run-ins with doctors and cops, and a punch in the face.  When a malfunctioning crosswalk light delays his routine stroll to a local coffee shop, fate and uncertainty turn him into an unwitting hero after he inadvertently foils a robbery.

Woods, Stuart     Fast & Loose
An attorney enjoying a boating excursion off the Maine coast has a chance encounter that leaves him somewhat the worse for wear.  He soon discovers that the authors of his misfortune are, in fact, members of a prestigious family who require the attorney to overcome a sticky situation.  The two parties have an enemy in common, a man with a hair-trigger temper who prefers force to finesse, and who regards any professional defeat as a personal and intolerable insult.

Yi, Mun-Yol     Meeting with My Brother
Years after his father abandoned his family to defect to the North at the outbreak of the Korean War, a man is now a middle-aged South Korean professor who has spent most of his life under a cloud of suspicion as the son of a traitor.  When his father dies before they can be reunited, he learns that he has a half-brother.  As the two confront their shared legacy, their encounter takes a surprising turn.

Johansen, Iris     No Easy Target
Reared off the grid in an abusive home, a child’s only escape was the nearby forest where she sought refuge whenever she could, and where she discovered a strange gift:  the ability to communicate with animals.  Now grown, she wants nothing more than to lead a quiet life, close to animals and under the radar, and so far has outrun any evildoers wanting to use her abilities for their own purposes.  But when a CIA operative breaks into her apartment to capture her to use as bait for an unrelenting enemy, she finds herself matching wits with a man who refuses to stop or be stopped.

New Mysteries
Norman, Howard     My Darling Detective
In 1970s Halifax, an assistant to a wealthy collector of vintage photographs is horrified to see his mother, a former librarian, stride into an art auction and hurl black ink at a picture by a celebrated war photographer.  The assistant’s fiancée, who is a police detective, launches an investigation that ultimately encompasses the WWII death of the mother’s soldier husband, the murder of two Jewish citizens in Halifax, and suspicions swirling around a former cop.  In memory of Parker Carey.

Childs, Laura     Pekoe Most Poison
A tea shop owner is invited by one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses to a ‘rat tea,’ where servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches to the crowd.  The hostess explains that rat teas date back to early Charleston, where they were sponsored to promote city rodent control and better public health.  But she has no explanation for the collapse and sudden death of her husband at the event.  The tea shop owner will want to investigate and will be drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Blaedel, Sarah     The Lost Woman
The female lead of Copenhagen’s Special Search Agency is called to England where a housewife shot to death through her kitchen window turns out to be a Danish citizen who’s been missing for 20 years.  Unfortunately, the man who reported her gone two decades previously is the detective’s former police colleague and now lover, and he becomes the prime suspect.

Stabenow, Dana     Less Than a Treason
When a geologist known for walking about with his rock hammer and getting lost disappears from an Alaskan park, a native Aleut private investigator seems to be the best choice for finding him in this dangerous landscape… except that she has now also gone missing.

Boylan, Jennifer     Long Black Veil
Six college friends capping off a wedding celebration with the exploration of an old, abandoned Philadelphia prison find themselves locked in – and not alone.  They get lost and separated; the terrifying night ends in tragedy. The experience will have unimaginable repercussions for all of them. Decades later, one of the group will be accused of murder.

Oldham, Nick     Bad Blood
As a man settles into a new life running a pub with his fiancée, they find their rural idyll disrupted by a violent intruder.  Although he is able to foil a kidnap attempt on his fiancée’s daughter, it becomes clear that he and his family have become the targets of a ruthless force.  But who – and why?  Pursued by a team of determined assassins, he will have to defend himself against an unhinged killer on a personal vendetta who will stop at nothing to take back what he believes is rightfully his.

Pattison, Eliot     Skeleton God
A reluctant constable in the backwater in remote Tibet tries to keep his head down when he is led to a tomb emitting a strange noise. In this ancient tomb lies an old nun laid out like a gilded saint buried centuries earlier, flanked by the remains of a Chinese soldier killed fifty years before and an American man murdered only hours earlier. Butting heads with the army who simply want to bury the corpses, the inspector pushes his inquiry up into the highest echelons of the Chinese government in Beijing and to a Tibetan refugee program.

White, Kate     The Secrets You Keep
An accomplished self-help author has plenty to deal with:  she’s recovering from a devastating car accident that still haunts her, she can’t shake the feeling that her dreams contain a warning, and her husband, once supportive, is now secretive and evasive.  When a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered, her world begins to unravel, and she wonders whether her nightmares may, in fact, hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

Connolly, Sheila     Cruel Winter
In a small Irish village, an unusual snowstorm strands a newcomer, along with a suspected killer in a long-ago murder, in a bar full of patrons.  The locals are not happy to be trapped with a suspect, but she takes the opportunity to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time.  The bar customers serve as an informal court in reviewing the case, and will come to some surprising conclusions.

Paretsky, Sara     Fallout
An investigator in Chicago searching for a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star tracks them to Kansas, through a university town, across fields dotted with Cold War-era missile silos, and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions.  Each answer will lead to more puzzling questions, and to more dead bodies.

Wait, Lea     Tightening the Threads
An antique dealer in Maine who never speaks about her past finally has the one thing she's searched for all her life--family. She has found her long-lost half-brother, who is now a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, and she is ready to reveal their secret connection. But his adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt, especially after, in declining health, he announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings. When he is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she is the killer.

Cocco, Giovanni      Shadows on the Lake
An inspector in Italy’s Lake Como district is a dedicated, overworked middle-aged single mother adored by her staff.  When she investigates the recovery of a young man’s remains found on a powerful family’s property near a road construction site, she is led back to the chaotic closing days of WWII in this corner of Italy, with its smugglers, deserters, secret agents and fleeing Jews.  

Prebble, Stuart     The Bridge
A woman in a crowded bar seems like everything the man who meets her could ever want – she is charismatic, beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate. But she is also harboring a dangerous secret, one that threatens to break loose once he introduces her to his last remaining relative, his grandmother. Granny’s having memory problems and is prone to fits of wild emotion, but something about her outburst upon meeting the new girlfriend seems like more than just a simple delusion. And then there’s that string of murders terrorizing London, with incidents occurring just blocks from his home.  A thought nags at him:  is it more than just coincidence?

New in Fantasy/SciFi
Suarez, Daniel     Change Agent
In 2045, the chief of Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime has them hunting down black market laboratories that perform "vanity edits" on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution.  With the worlds of genetic crime and human trafficking converging, the agents discover that one figure looms behind it all: the leader of a powerful and sophisticated crime cartel.  After being forcibly dosed with a radical new change agent, the chief wakes from a coma weeks later to find he’s been genetically transformed into someone else— his enemy, the leader of the cartel.

New in Large Print
Albert, Susan     The General’s Women
Based on the real relationship between General Dwight Eisenhower and his Irish driver and aide Kay Summersby, this novel explores the impact of that relationship on Mamie Eisenhower and her life in Washington during the war.  The closeness of Ike and Kay deepened as they moved from England to North Africa to France and Germany before and after the Normandy landing.  At the end of the war, Ike would face the heart-wrenching choice between marrying Kay/leaving Mamie and his political future.

Leon, Donna      Earthly Remains
During the police interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, an Italian commissario acts rashly, doing something he quickly regrets.  When he is put on leave, his wife ships him off to the villa of a wealthy relative, where he relaxes, until the affable caretaker of the house goes missing following a sudden storm.

New Audiobooks
MacRae, Molly     Plaid and Plagiarism
In the weeks before an annual literature festival in Scotland, four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned. One of the women is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home, then finds out the house has been vandalized.  Again. The chief suspect?  an advice columnist for the local paper who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When the business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body: it’s the columnist, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck.

Bowen, Rhys     In Farleigh Field
World War II comes to the ancestral home of an English Lord and his five daughters when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, an MI5 operative and family friend is covertly tasked with determining whether the man was a German spy. The assignment also offers him the chance to be near the aristocrat’s daughter, whom he furtively loves. But she has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

Dolan-Leach, Caite     Dead Letters
Born into a family of alcoholics, one child is the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and her increasingly unstable mother, she is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But her twin sister finds the official explanation a little too neat. When she receives a cryptic message, she knows the wild one is playing one of her games and has left a series of clues about her disappearance.

Ryan, Jennifer     The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
As England enters World War II's dark early days, a spirited music professor arrives at a village where she emboldens the women of the town to defy the vicar's stuffy edict to shutter the church's choir in the absence of men. Told through letters and journals, the novel moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As the struggles of the charismatic choir members unroll, each finds in the choir's collective voice the strength that will reverberate in their individual lives.

Wilson, Susan     Two Good Dogs
When a troubled fourteen-year-old witnesses a murder, she tells no one, beginning a spiral from which she cannot escape. Her worried mother thinks a change of scene is just what her introverted, withdrawn daughter needs and since her dream has always been to own an inn, she jumps at the chance to buy a dilapidated bed & breakfast in the Berkshires. But being an innkeeper is harder than she thought and her daughter still seems to fall in with the wrong crowd. When the inn’s only late-winter guest arrives accompanied by his rescued pit bull, the women form wary bonds with him and his dog, then learn to trust again.  But just as this new-found family seems to be on the brink of second chances, a murderer closes in — someone hiding in plain sight who threatens to destroy everything and everyone.

Backman, Frederik     Beartown
A tiny community deep in the forest is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees.  An old ice rink, built generations earlier by the workers who founded the town, focuses their hope in their junior ice hockey team who are about to compete in the national semi-finals.  Unfortunately, the match will be a catalyst for a violent act that will leave a girl traumatized.  Accusations are made, no one is unaffected, and the town is in utter turmoil.

New Films
The Brokenwood Mysteries, Season 1          A detective arrives on assignment in a small New Zealand town where memories and animosities run deep. He's an experienced cop with a 1971 "classic" car, a collection of country music cassettes, and an indeterminate number of ex-wives. His new assistant is a by-the-book investigator, nearly 20 years younger than her boss's car, who quickly has to get used to his lone-wolf ways. As he adapts to the slower pace of life away from the city, he soon discovers that the serenity of the countryside can easily be shattered by violence and death. Filmed in the beautiful landscape of New Zealand's North Island, these four mysteries show that murder can haunt even the most idyllic locations.

Paterson           Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey: they share the name. Every day, he adheres to a simple routine of driving his daily route, where he observes the city as it drifts across his windshield, and overhears fragments of the conversations that swirl around him. He writes poetry into a notebook, walks his dog, and has exactly one beer at a local bar. By contrast, his loving wife is a dreamer who is constantly inspired by new ideas and ambitious projects, all the while championing Paterson's gift for poetry. The history and energy of the City of Paterson are a felt presence in the film as its simple structure unfolds over the course of a single week.

Victoria          From her early years through her coronation at 18, her marriage, and the birth of her first child, a girl evolves into one of history's greatest monarchs. From the upper echelons of the royal court to the below-stairs staff, there are passionate affairs, power struggles, and unrequited love, and at the center of it all stands the new queen, a strong, complex, and willful woman who must, somehow, rule over an enormous empire and become an enduring icon.  In memory of Parker Carey.

Marie’s Mind for Murder          A German police inspector looks like she could be anyone's friendly aunt, but her nondescript appearance belies her phenomenal mental abilities. Her thinking is out-of-the-box scary: she sees physical inconsistencies at the crime scene immediately, constantly collects details about everything, has a unique take on situations, and senses when she's being lied to. Called in to consult on a difficult case, she will have to work with a self-described ladies' man, a cop who can't wait to be rid of her. But his disdain will turn into appreciation once he comprehends the scope of her brilliance.

Mother Ghost               A year after his mother's death, a man is finally getting on with his life, until the morning when his mother's jewelry appears on his bathroom sink – the same jewelry she was buried in. When he tells his wife, she snaps. She claims he's been distant and uncaring, and now he is seeing things that aren't there. When she threatens to take their son and leave, he launches himself on a day of reclamation starting with a call to a popular radio psychiatrist for guidance. The advice allows him to discover a new man and a new attitude, and several people listening to the radio conversation determine to make changes of their own.

The Syndicate:  All or Nothing          A stately home has been in an English Lord's family since the 18th century. Unfortunately, the once-impressive manor is crumbling, and its owners are burdened with ₤6.5 million in debt. The Lord and Lady have been forced to let most of their staff go, and only five servants help maintain the estate. But when those five remaining staff win the lottery, the lines between upstairs and downstairs begin to blur.
Book and film descriptions are excerpted from dust jackets, publisher into, and book and film reviews.

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