PositiveBooklistDyer is that rare breed of creative nonfiction writer who can take almost any topic and make it his own ... Dyer’s favorites, a movie he’s seen countless times. This insightful, funny, and wildly enthusiastic book is essentially the literary version of live-tweeting a film ... If you’ve never seen Where Eagles Dare, there’s still plenty to enjoy here, thanks to Dyer’s irrepressible style; but if you’re a fan of the film, you can’t ask for a more entertaining companion book.
PositiveBooklistThe Rockton novels are fine blends of story, character, and setting. The town of Rockton is not merely window dressing, and its characters aren’t superficially drawn. In fact, the two elements feed off one another, with the vividness of the place adding depth to the people who inhabit it.
Donald E Westlake
PositiveBooklistshowcases the kind of careful, precise—but seemingly effortless—character-building and devilishly clever plotting that earned Westlake a devoted following among mystery fans. Sporting a spiffy new cover design (Paul Mann’s painting perfectly captures the flavor of the novel), the book will either be a welcome trip down memory lane for Westlake’s older fans or a first-time read for his younger fans. Either way, this delightful mixture of mirth and mystery is classic Westlake.
PositiveBooklist\"[Thomson\'s] analyses of how a range of movie stars, from Rudolph Valentino to Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and dozens of others, have impacted our thinking about sex and relationships are unfailingly provocative. Thomson is pretty much a walking encyclopedia of film history, and this is the kind of subject he can really sink his teeth into. Fascinating and illuminating.\
Ian S Port
PositiveBooklistThis smartly written and genuinely exciting book walks us through the bitter rivalry between Fender and Gibson and, since there is no way to tell this story without telling the story of rock ’n’ roll itself, also provides a jaunty if necessarily abbreviated history of rock. For music buffs, this one is special.
PositiveBooklistDorsey’s novels are unfailingly entertaining: his characters are meticulously described but slightly larger than life; his dialogue is delightfully offbeat; and Serge is, hands down, the most smoothly charming, irrepressibly goofy, joyfully out-of-his-mind series lead in contemporary mystery fiction. There’s no one quite like Serge Storms, and there’s no one who writes quite like Tim Dorsey. Don’t miss this one, and be sure to catch up on the entire series, if you’re not already up to date.
Matt Zoller Seitz
MixedBooklistHere is a perfect illustration of too much of a good thing ... laboriously detailed ... the book definitely enriches the viewing experience, but the level of detail becomes a bit overwhelming every once in a while. The text takes us deeply and often perceptively into the stories and themes of The Sopranos, but readers looking for an enthusiastic celebration of the series may be a bit put off by the professorial, film-school style. Even so, for hard-core The Sopranos fans, of whom there are many, it’s probably still a must-read.
PositiveBooklistAnother cleverly plotted, atmospheric mystery ... Hoag puts on quite the juggling act here, dazzling us with multiple theories about the boy’s murder, numerous potential suspects, and plot twists that keep us just slightly off-balance. A welcome return for a compelling investigative duo.
Doug Bock Clark
PositiveBooklistThis is no dry sociological/environmental treatise. Instead, it’s a gripping story of a community struggling for its very survival, and of the clash between ancient and modern worlds. Clark has a graceful, almost poetic writing style, and his vivid portrait of the Lamalerans and their way of life evokes in the reader a stirring image of a lost world, an ancient society that has somehow stayed virtually untouched by the march of time . . . until now.
PositiveBooklistAnother thought-provoking, genre-bending SF thriller ... Winters seems to have a real affection for unusually compelling premises—the events of the Last Policeman trilogy take place as an asteroid is bearing down on the earth, and the annihilation of humanity is a certainty—and he certainly knows how to bring those premises to life in a way that keeps readers flipping pages. Another fine novel from a writer whose imagination knows no bounds.
PositiveBooklistIt’s all balderdash, of course, but it’s lovingly crafted balderdash, perfectly paced and completely convincing (for balderdash, that is). Perfect fare for fans of James Rollins’ Sigma Force series, although it should be noted that Reilly’s novels are (intentionally) less grounded in reality than Robbins’. A breathless adventure, well told.
RaveBooklist\"Over time we come to understand that Ethan is an unreliable narrator—not only isn’t he telling us much, but what he does tell us can’t be trusted. This technique works on multiple levels: it draws us in, creating a powerful thirst to know more about Ethan, and it generates considerable tension (we know what we learn won’t be good). Harms’ Way... is ingenious in its construction, gut-punching in its final moments.\
Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
PositiveBooklistFemale villains of the evil-genius type are few and far between in the high-concept-adventure subgenre, and it’s refreshing to find one here. And the writing goes less by the numbers than in some of the recent NUMA Files books. Cussler’s devoted readership will find this among the better entries in the series.
RaveBooklist\"Charlie Husk is a cannibal, a member of a clan of flesh-eaters who live hidden away from the world. His job is to travel into civilization, abduct people, and bring them back to the clan ... When he falls in love with a human girl, Charlie’s whole life changes ... Zeltserman keeps the story grounded in reality, giving Charlie practical problems to overcome, and the story is at once tender, brutal, fantastic, and vibrantly real. A unique and splendid novel.
RaveBooklist\"You know a writer has talent when he or she can take a rather debatable premise—a woman becomes convinced her mother’s disappearance has something to do with another woman’s disappearance because both are named Beth—and turn it into a seriously spellbinding thriller .... Abbott has a solid track record... and The Three Beths continues his run as a thriller writer who can be counted on to deliver page-turning suspense.
RaveBooklistLondon, October 1922. Edith Thompson and her husband, Percy, were on the way home from the theater. A man, Freddy Bywaters, came out of the shadows and murdered Edith’s husband. It turned out that Bywaters was Edith’s lover; they were both charged with Percy’s murder, and they were both convicted and executed. In this intense and precise account of the case and its aftermath, the author explores the possibility that Edith was unfairly convicted; Freddy claimed several times that Edith wasn’t involved, and it is quite possible he was telling the truth, not merely lying to save the life of the woman he loved ... A terrific book: compassionate, nuanced, and thought-provoking.
RaveBooklistHarvey...gives us a gritty mystery with an element of fantasy that, rather than detracting from the story’s realism, actually supports it: we totally believe in Daniel’s ability, which means that when Harvey starts layering on the twists and turns, we marvel at, rather than disbelieve, the revelations that follow. Harvey takes some risks here—a serpentine, fantasy-tinged plot is always in danger of running off its tracks—but he never loses control of his narrative, and readers just might find themselves a bit out of breath at the end of the ride. An ambitious, brilliantly successful novel and a textbook example of how to make crime fiction and fantasy work as a team.
RaveBooklistIf you’re picturing a plodding tome about intergalactic politics, think again: Scalzi writes, as always, in a lively, occasionally flamboyant style, and his characters are, despite the fact that they live in the far-flung future, as real and human as anyone you’d meet in the here and now. Scalzi once again demonstrates why he is one of the most popular SF novelists currently writing.
PositiveBooklistFull of insight ... Longworth adopts a conversational tone—this isn’t a treatise on the subject of wealth and power in the first half of the twentieth century as much as it is a story about a man who traded in seduction, mystique, and money. Not a beginning-to-end biography of Hughes, the book is instead a deep dive into a part of his life. Illuminating and memorable.
RaveBooklistPaul Brickhill’s The Great Escape (1950) is widely considered the best nonfiction book about escapes from wartime prison camps. This gripping new volume gives Brickhill’s classic a run for its money ... Based on extensive research, including documents written by the escapees themselves, the book is intensely detailed and written with a prose style that puts readers right there in the camp with the prisoners: when the prisoners hold their breath, terrified of being discovered in a secret activity, the reader will hold his or her breath, too. In the ever-expanding genre of prison-escape sagas, this one joins the top ranks.
RaveBooklistChild expertly juggles a pair of seemingly unrelated story lines, keeping them moving simultaneously, until, inevitably, the lines merge and violence ensues. The twenty-third Reacher novel springs some interesting surprises about Jack’s family and contains one of Reacher’s most cold-blooded acts of violence. As always, the prose is lean and efficient, the action scenes are well designed, and Reacher is as formidable an opponent as one could imagine (just this side of a Transformer). Another first-class entry in a series that continues to set the gold standard for aspiring thriller authors.
PositiveBooklist\"Green’s portraits of the good guys and the bad guys are richly layered and compelling: this is no simple cops-and-robbers story. It’s a story about an entire way of life and the way people on both sides of the law have been affected by it. A fine piece of crime nonfiction.\
RaveBooklist\"In its heyday it was the biggest-selling magazine in America, read by 16 million people, including many celebrities, though few would admit to reading it. Confidential was a raunchy rag, a sleazy scandal sheet, and it pretty much launched the celebrity-gossip brand of journalism ... Although a highly publicized lawsuit in 1957 rendered the magazine toothless and essentially irrelevant, its impact still resonates through popular culture and the world of Hollywood. A fascinating, highly detailed study of a precursor to today’s celebrity-obsessed media.
Kim Stanley Robinson
PositiveBooklistRobinson plays his own variations on the theme, turning what might have become a been-there-done-that retread into something fresh and exciting. Another stellar effort from one of the masters of the genre.
PositiveBooklist\"If Grisham had elected to tell this story in a linear fashion, it would have been a good, if unremarkable, thriller. But spooled out in this deliberately disjointed fashion, it becomes a fascinating literary jigsaw puzzle, with pieces of the story from the book’s multiple sections finally clicking into place in the end. This is Grisham experimenting with the traditional legal-thriller format, and his experiment yields thoroughly engaging results ... The Grisham brand shows no signs of losing its power to draw readers, giving him the leverage to play with the thriller format, as he does successfully here.\
RaveBooklist\"A pitch-perfect blend of fantasy and organized-crime sagas like Puzo’s The Godfather or Pileggi’s Wiseguy, this novel... is very, very hard to put down ... Expect word-of-mouth support from fantasy fans to turn this one into a genre hit.\
Tom Wright and Bradley Hope
RaveBooklist\"...Written by a pair of Wall Street Journal reporters, this well-researched and well-documented book reveals how Low, who had no credentials apart from a business degree from Wharton, insinuated himself into the Malaysian prime minister’s inner circle, came to control hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of dollars, and attracted celebrity pals from around the world. It reveals how Low used a bag of tricks, including financial fraud, to make himself seem more powerful, more influential, and more successful than he actually was. And it reveals the deep flaws in the Malaysian government that allowed Low to become an unofficial controller of a billion-plus-dollar development fund from which, apparently, he simply stole huge sums of money. For fans of business books about financial misdealings, this is a must-read.
RaveBooklist\"This is an utterly fascinating book about one of those subjects you never thought you’d be interested in until, well, you were ... Skaife is a very good storyteller, and the book is full of the kind of anecdote that would make a great scene in a movie (like, for instance, the time one of the ravens orchestrated a daring escape from the Tower). A splendid and constantly surprising book.\
Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
MixedBooklistIt’s pretty formulaic stuff—every Oregon Files story has the same ingredients—and, as usual, the writing is functional at best. Cussler’s sizable following, however, remains devoted and will be pleased by something new.
Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz
RaveBooklistThe authors’ intent is to take two men who have been mythologized over decades, strip away the fictions that have been piled on them, and leave us with a clearer sense of the true Ness and Capone. And they succeed admirably. Collins brings all his skills as a novelist to the story, painting in bold strokes a picture of Prohibition-era Chicago, a city almost entirely under the control of Capone’s criminal organization. His writing is about as far from a history text as you can imagine ... Careful research combined with vivid pulp style.
RaveBooklist\"Rich is a nimble writer, able to whip up a side-splittingly funny moment out of the simplest ingredients (a few brief sentences, a couple of lines of dialogue, an offbeat observation) and to to sustain a remarkable level of hilarity from one story to another. Great fun.\
RaveBooklist OnlineNora Watts is faced with the challenge of tracking down the daughter she had put up for adoption 15 years earlier—finds Vancouver, B. C., resident Nora traveling to Detroit to look into the death of her father ... Meanwhile, back home in British Columbia, a private investigator digs into the death of his client’s mistress, only to find an apparent link to Nora ... this psychological thriller is even more sure-footed than its predecessor; the writing is more compelling, the characters deeper and richer, as though Kamal has come to know Nora better since The Lost Ones. Familiarity with that novel is not essential to read this one, which works just fine as a stand-alone, but, at the same time, readers who know where Nora came from will better appreciate where she is going here. Crime-fiction fans should hope for another Nora Watts novel very soon.
RaveBooklistIt’s difficult to imagine a more comprehensive account of Bruce Lee’s short but influential life than this one ... but the book isn’t an investigation into the kung fu star’s death; rather, it’s a celebration of his life ... Polly charts the course of Lee’s life in careful, precise detail ... His admiration for Lee comes through on nearly every page ... the author doesn’t skim lightly over Lee’s drug use or infidelity, nor does he shy away from the sordid circumstances surrounding Lee’s death ... A fascinating story of a remarkable figure in popular culture, this is the biography Bruce Lee’s legion of fans have been waiting for.
John Perry Barlow and Robert Greenfield
RaveBooklist OnlineHe came from political power, ran a cattle ranch while he wrote rock songs, befriended pop-culture icons and political movers-and-shakers, and became an internet pioneer ... contains one fascinating story after another, a exploration of America’s counterculture, its political underpinnings, its spirit of adventure.
RaveBooklistIt was an event so famous that it’s still widely talked about. In 1960, an American airplane was shot down over the Soviet Union. Although the Americans soon announced that the plane was merely off course, that it had crashed due to pilot error, and that its pilot had died, it soon emerged that the downed aircraft had been a spy plane and that its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was very much alive and held captive by the Soviets ... A richly detailed, well-researched, and engagingly written book that takes us behind the scenes of one of the twentieth-century’s most nail-bitingly tense episodes.
RaveBooklist\"Shaffer could have jumped on this opportunity to parody Biden and Obama, but, instead, he presents them as real people, pretty much the way we imagine them to be (allowing, of course, for literary license); and the mystery is genuinely suspenseful and satisfying, not merely a framework for a bunch of silliness. It should be noted, too, that the relationship between Biden and Obama is carefully and skillfully developed and has moments of genuine emotion. An ambitious and completely successful novel.\
RaveBooklistHere passages written in a sort of prose-poetic style (sentences end or begin midway through; thoughts are interrupted; punctuation is left out) vividly convey the dramatic tone of the moment. Another captivating novel from one of the most intriguing and genre-bending novelists currently working in the intersection between thriller and science fiction.
Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein
RaveBooklistIn this always entertaining and frequently laugh-out-loud-hilarious memoir, Reiss and coauthor Klickstein take us behind the scenes not only of the long-running sitcom, but also of Reiss’ own life ... There have been a lot of books written about The Simpsons, some of them good but most not so much, and this is hands down one of the very best.
PositiveBooklistEfficiency keeps us focused on our goals, which is good, but, on the flip side, a narrow focus can make us miss things we might have seen if we weren’t so lasered in on our goals. It’s a complex subject, but Tenner’s smart organization and user-friendly prose style make it entirely accessible to lay readers.
PositiveBooklistIt works just fine as a stand-alone...as Koontz allows Jane to bring the reader up to speed in a way that doesn’t feel shoehorned into the story. Koontz has had a long and consistently best-selling career ... The Hawk series—there’s a fourth one scheduled to be published in October 2018—is among his best work.
RaveBooklist...weird and oddly hilarious ... This isn’t just a spoof of the kind of noir that Thompson, Cain, and Goodis were writing in the 1940s and ’50s; hiding behind those trappings is a pedal-to-the-metal, exquisitely written comic romp through a neon-lit San Francisco that may never have actually existed, but that, in Moore’s supremely talented hands, sure feels like it could have. The scene in the diner, where the Cheese and her pal call out food orders, is by itself funny enough to have you snorting in public. So beware: you probably won’t get through this one without making a fool of yourself.
RaveBooklist\"...[a] deeply fascinating and energetically written book ... Kaku’s writings have garnered a reputation for combining hard science with clever speculation, and his latest book continues that winning trend. A breathtaking voyage through what is almost certainly the next major period in the history of humanity.\
RaveBooklist\"Itzkoff, who knew the late Robin Williams on a personal level, gives us the biography we’ve been waiting for ... this isn’t one of those skimming-the-surface Hollywood bios. It’s a meaty, well-researched, moving story of a man who could never quite come to terms with his own brilliance.\
RaveBooklist Online\"Nashawaty’s prose is lively, and his exhaustive research is bolstered by interviews with many of the film’s principle players, including the famously elusive Murray. A wonderful celebration of a passionately loved film.\
RaveBooklistScalzi is one of the sf genre’s most popular writers, and it’s easy to see why: his prose flows like a river, smoothly carrying us through the story; his characters are beautifully crafted; and his future world is impeccably designed, at the same time wildly imaginative and wholly plausible. Let’s hope the author doesn’t wait another three-plus years to deliver another book set in this exciting world.
RaveBooklistThis splendid making-of book covers everything from casting to on-set clashes between stars (and between stars and director) to the staging of key scenes to choosing filming locations. The book also features in-depth biographies of the film’s three leads, because you can’t tell the story of this classic film without telling the stories of its stars, who were as tortured as their characters in their own ways. A sharp, insightful look at a legendary film.
RaveBooklistMaisie, a woman working in what was at the time considered almost exclusively a man’s field, is a wonderful creation, representative of her era while being at the same time a thoroughly modern woman. The mystery in this book is cleverly designed, too, allowing the author to explore the environment in England in the early, quiet days of WWII—the so-called phony war, before the Blitz—and to explore England’s 1940s-era criminal underground. A first-rate historical mystery.
RaveBooklistThis book is every bit as gripping as the author’s Pulitzer-winning Devil in the Grove (2012), which explored an earlier incident involving McCall and Reese. McCall, who served as sheriff until the early 1970s, emerges here as thoroughly despicable, and Reese, who was a supporting player in Devil in the Grove, steps onto center stage here and captivates us with her determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Gripping history, vividly told.
Kirk Wallace Johnson
RaveBooklistThe author’s relentless pursuit of a solution to that mystery not only breaks down the crime itself but also follows the eccentric histories of \'feather fever\'—the Victorian fad that turned bird feathers into the height of fashion accessories—and fly tying (which dates back at least to the Macedonians of the third century AD). Way more interesting than you’d think a book about a guy who stole some dead birds could possibly be, this is a remarkably compelling story of obsession and history and a man who so loved his art that he would break the law for it.
RaveBooklist OnlineKurson has a good dramatic storytelling style ... and his portrayals of the pioneering astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders (all of whom were interviewed by the author), turns these men from historical figures into real people. The book is proof that there’s room in the marketplace for more than one book about a well-known event.
Sam J. Miller
RaveBooklistThis has the look and feel of science fiction, but the novel tells a timeless story of rebellion against a corrupt master, giving it a kind of Hunger Games resonance that reaches beyond any genre boundaries. Miller is a graceful writer, easing us into the story gently, letting us get acclimated to its time and place, before subtly speeding up the pace and plunging us into the characters’ race for survival. And what fine characters they are: people of the future, yes, but with all the texture and believability of ordinary folk.
PositiveBooklistDavenport catches us up in the breathless excitement of these men who are trying to launch the biggest start-up in the history of the galaxy. But this is no puff piece; the author faithfully records the heartbreaking failures and the struggles to overcome serious opposition (from the U.S. government, among others). This is, too, a story of ego and the aggressive pursuit of number-one status, and the author does a fine job of capturing the personalities of these famous men. A big story, told through its vividly evoked small details.
RaveBooklist OnlineMeltzer has based his literary career on conspiracy-themed stories, and he’s very good at them. In Nola and Zig, too, he’s created two of his most compellingly fresh characters. Nola, in particular, represents a high point in the author’s career: a strong, resourceful, mysterious female lead who could go toe-to-toe with Jack Reacher, Bob Lee Swagger, and the other guys. First of a new series, according to the publisher, and that’s just fine.
RaveBooklist\"Benson is clearly in tune with the film and he follows the story of the movie’s creation with an eye for small, precise detail. In its way, this story about the making of 2001 is as compelling and eye-opening as the film itself.\
PositiveBooklist\"Huang offers a vivid portrait of two men who did the best they could to live ordinary lives, and a revealing look at a somewhat scandalous side of the prim-and-proper Victorian Era.\
Ryan H. Walsh
RaveBooklistMusician and journalist Walsh writes with the enthusiasm of a fan and the precision and depth of an expert. A first-rate book about a piece of music and the time in which it was created.
Edward J. Larson
RaveBooklist Online\"Larson captures the excitement and danger that were the defining characteristics of this age of exploration ... Larson, who won a Pulitzer Prize in history for his book about the Scopes Trial (Summer for the Gods, 1997), is a meticulous writer, telling us not just what happened on the three expeditions but—whenever possible—why and how the success or failure of these voyages of discovery would impact the very future of exploration itself.\
RaveBooklistPenn takes on an ambitious challenge here, and he succeeds spectacularly. Bob is a wonderful character, the kind of guy you can’t take your eyes off ... The story is convoluted, sure, and occasionally surreal, but that’s part of the book’s almost immeasurable charm.
PositiveBooklistScovell comes across as a smart, energetic, determined woman, someone who is always shooting for greater success and who really hates it when she fails at something. A revealing and timely portrait of a professional writer and the industry in which she works.
RaveBooklist\"Lippman answers these questions, and several more besides, but in an especially tantalizing manner, parceling out information slowly, a bit here, a bit there, letting us spend some time processing a new revelation before dropping another one on us. Ingeniously constructed and extremely suspenseful, the novel keeps us guessing right up until its final moments. Lippman is a popular and dependable writer, and this homage to classic noir showcases a writer at the height of her powers.\
RaveBooklist\"Whimsical but also full of solid journalism and eye-opening revelations about the history of humanity, the book is a real treat.\
RaveBooklistThere’s a natural flow to the author’s writing—a conversational tone and a way of capturing our interest—that transforms what could have been a dry recitation of people, places, and facts into a compelling, absolutely unputdownable story. Wasson has interviewed a tremendous number of people for the book, and he supplements those interviews with well-chosen material from numerous previously published sources ... A remarkable story, magnificently told.
RaveBooklistEyman follows the two actors’ careers, but he does much more than that. He talks about their contrasting acting styles and personalities—Fonda the 'tightly coiled spring,' Stewart the natural, comfortable fellow—and he discusses their personal lives and their battles to find the right roles to showcase their unique abilities. He also explores the way their experiences in WWII affected their postwar careers. Stewart, in particular, seems to have emerged from the war (he was a bomber pilot) a noticeably more serious and less affable man. Eyman has a real knack for making the celebrity subjects of his biographies come across not only as celebrities but also as real people who live the same kinds of lives as the rest of us, just with different trappings. Another winner from a Hollywood-bio veteran.
PositiveBooklistThe novel has some strikingly well-drawn characters and a plot that edges tantalizingly close to a full-on caper story, but it also boasts some shrewd commentary on the scourge of fraudulent for-profit universities and the disastrous impact they can have on people’s lives. It feels like this is a subject close to Grisham’s heart, and he makes the most of it.
PositiveBooklistAs an actor, Tom Hanks has an understated performance style; the hard work seems to get done under the surface, where we can’t see it. All we see is the truth of the character. The same goes for the 17 short stories in this thoroughly engaging book ... The stories are brief and sometimes seem abbreviated, but they possess a real feel for character and a slice-of-life realism that combine to deliver considerable depth beneath the surface. A surprising and satisfying book from a first-time fiction writer.
RaveBooklistThe book is sure to garner a lot of attention—a posthumous book about dinosaurs from the creator of Jurassic Park—but it’s more than just a literary curiosity. It’s also a very good novel; in fact, taken among all Crichton’s novels, it’s one of his best, a beautifully detailed, scientifically engrossing, absolutely riveting story about the early days of paleontology.
RaveBooklist...compelling, dark, surprising, and morally ambiguous ... With these three novels, Iles has told an epic story that rips apart the modern history of Mississippi (he lives in Natchez himself), exposing a secret underbelly that, while fictional, feels real enough to have actually happened. This trilogy is destined to become a classic of literary crime fiction.