New Books August 2016

Fiction

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Ali Sabahattin
A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade in 1920s Berlin. The city’s crowded streets, thriving arts scene, passionate politics and seedy cabarets provide the backdrop for a chance meeting with a woman, which will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz
In a surreal, but familiar, vision of modern day Egypt, a centralized authority known as ‘the Gate’ has risen to power in the aftermath of’ a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate in order to take care of even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the Gate never opens, and the queue in front of it grows longer. Citizens from all walks of life mix and wait in the sun including Yehia, a man who was shot during the Events and is waiting for permission to remove the bullet. Yehia’s health steadily declines, while officials refuse to assist him. Tarek, the principled doctor tending to Yehia’s case, must decide whether to follow protocol as he has always done, or to disobey the law and risk his career to operate on Yehia and save his life.

The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon
The tales in Mark Haddon’s lyrical and uncompromising new collection take many forms—Victorian adventure story, science fiction, morality tale, contemporary realism—but they all showcase his virtuoso gifts as a stylist and the deep well of empathy that made his three bestselling novels so compelling. The characters here are often isolated physically or estranged from their families, yet they yearn for connection. The stories become a meditation on the essential aloneness of the human condition but also on the connections, however tenuous and imperfect, that link people to one another.

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam
On the eve of her departure to find the bones of the walking whale—the fossil that provides a missing link in our evolution—Zubaida Haque falls in love with Elijah Strong, a man she meets in a darkened concert hall in Boston. Their connection is immediate and intense, despite their differences.  When a twist of fate sends her back to her hometown, the force of society compels her to marry her childhood best friend and settle into a traditional Bangladeshi life. While her family is pleased by her obedience, Zubaida seethes with discontent. Desperate to finally free herself from her familial constraints, she moves to Chittagong to work on a documentary film about the infamous beaches where ships are destroyed, and their remains salvaged by locals who depend on the goods for their survival. As she witnesses a ship being torn down to its bones, this woman torn between the social mores of her two homes—Bangladesh and America—will be forced to strip away the vestiges of her own life . . . and make a choice from which she can never turn back.

2017 War With Russia by General Sir Richard Shirreff
Closely modeled on his NATO experience of war gaming future conflicts, 2017 War With Russia is a chilling account of where we are heading if we fail to recognize the threat posed by the Russian president and shows how war with Russia could erupt with the bloodiest and most appalling consequences if the necessary steps are not taken urgently.

 

Mystery/Thriller

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear
It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square she is intercepted by members of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama
For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’.  In late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover and he would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.

The North Water by Ian McGuire
Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship’s medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. As the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?

Real Tigers by Mick Herron
Slough House is the MI5 branch where disgraced operatives are reassigned after they’ve messed up too badly to be trusted with real intelligence work. When one of their own is kidnapped and held for ransom, the agents of Slough House must defeat the odds, overturning all expectations of their competence, to breach the top-notch security of MI5’s intelligence headquarters, Regent’s Park, and steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade’s safety. The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however—the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries but the highest authorities in the Secret Service. After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the Slow Horses suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself.

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force where is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

A Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashino
Manabu Yukawa, the physicist known as “Detective Galileo,” has traveled to Hari Cove, a once-popular summer resort town that has fallen on hard times. He is there to speak at a conference on a planned underwater mining operation, which has sharply divided the town. The night after the tense panel discussion, one of the resort’s guests is found dead on the seashore at the base of the local cliffs. The local police at first believe it was a simple accident, but when they discover that the victim was a former policeman and that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, they begin to suspect he was murdered, and his body tossed off the cliff to misdirect the police. As the police try to uncover where Tsukahara was killed and why, Yukawa finds himself enmeshed in yet another confounding case of murder.

 

Non-Fiction

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers. In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.

The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers by Richard James Aldrich & Rory Cormac
The Black Door’ explores the evolving relationship between successive British prime ministers and the intelligence agencies. At the beginning of the 20th Century the British intelligence system was underfunded and lacked influence in government. But as the new millennium dawned, intelligence had become so integral to policy that it was used to make the case for war. Now, covert action is incorporated seamlessly into government policy, and the Prime Minister is kept constantly updated by intelligence agencies. But how did intelligence come to influence our government so completely? ‘The Black Door’ explores the murkier corridors of No. 10 Downing Street, chronicling the relationships between intelligence agencies and the Prime Ministers of the last century.

East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands
As the author uncovered, clue by clue, the deliberately obscured story of his grandfather’s mysterious life, and of his mother’s journey as a child surviving Nazi occupation, Sands searched further into the history of the city of Lemberg in the Ukraine and realized that his own field of humanitarian law had been forged by two men—Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht—each of whom had studied law at Lviv University in the city of his grandfather’s birth, each considered to be the father of the modern human rights movement, and each, at parallel times, forging diametrically opposite, revolutionary concepts of humanitarian law that had changed the world. In this extraordinary and resonant book, Sands looks at who these two very private men were, and at how and why, coming from similar Jewish backgrounds and the same city, studying at the same university, each developed the theory he did, showing how each man dedicated this period of his life to having his legal concept—“genocide” and “crimes against humanity”—as a centerpiece for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices. Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. He describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.

And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East by Richard Engel
Based on two decades of reporting, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent’s riveting story of the Middle East revolutions, the Arab Spring, war, and terrorism seen up-close—sometimes dangerously so. Over two decades Engel has been under fire, blown out of hotel beds, taken hostage. He has watched Mubarak and Morsi in Egypt arrested and condemned, reported from Jerusalem, been through the Lebanese war, covered the whole shooting match in Iraq, interviewed Libyan rebels who toppled Gaddafi, reported from Syria as Al-Qaeda stepped in, was kidnapped in the Syrian crosscurrents of fighting. He goes into Afghanistan with the Taliban and to Iraq with ISIS. In the page-turning And Then All Hell Broke Loose, he shares his adventure tale.

Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash
This is the generation that will change China. The youth, over 320 million of them in their teens and twenties, more than the population of the USA. Born after Mao, with no memory of Tiananmen, they are destined to transform both their nation and the world. These millennials, offspring of the one-child policy, face fierce competition to succeed. Pressure starts young, and their road isn’t easy. Wish Lanterns follows the lives of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child and netizen; ‘Fred’ is a daughter of the Party. Lucifer is an aspiring superstar; Snail a country migrant addicted to online games. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north; Mia a rebel from Xinjiang in the far west. Through individual stories, Wish Lanterns shows with empathy and insight the challenges and dreams that will define China’s future global impact.

 

Children’s Fiction

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him. Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . .

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson
With her irresistible urge to tell a joke in every situation–even when she really, really shouldn’t–twelve-year-old Jacky Ha-Ha loves to make people laugh. And cracking wise helps distract her from thinking about not-so-funny things in her life, like her mom serving in a dangerous, faraway war, and a dad who’s hardly ever home. But no matter how much fun Jacky has, she can’t seem to escape her worries. So one starlit night, she makes a promise to keep her family together…even if she has to give up the one thing that makes her happy. But can she stop being Jacky Ha-Ha, if that’s who she really is?

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it?

 

Young Adult

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle, Book 3)
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost. Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle, Book 4)
All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.