The following books headline the new August arrivals at the Johann Fust Community Library on Boca Grande.
by Linda Castillo
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
The New York Times best-selling series hailed as "gripping" by People magazine and "compelling" by USA Today returns with Police Chief Kate Burkholder called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hard-working, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit.
But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death - clearly, foul play was involved.
But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs' children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?
Having grown up Amish, Burkholder is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom she has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes - and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.
Chock full of twists and chills and set against the unusual world of the Amish, this series "will delight fans of Chelsea Cain and Thomas Harris" (USA Today).
Dreamers of the Day
by Mary Doria Russell
On the heels of a family tragedy precipitated by the influenza epidemic of 1919, middle-aged spinster schoolteacher Agnes Shanklin inherits enough money to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Traveling to Egypt, she settles in at the Semiramis Hotel, where she meets and becomes involved with a number of members of the Cairo Peace Conference, including T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Winston Churchill and Lady Gertrude Bell.
As these luminaries begin to carve up the Middle East, the unassuming Shanklin wins the confidence of the conference attendees and attracts the attention of a dashing German spy.
SPOILER ALERT: Narrated by Shanklin from beyond the grave - a twist not revealed until the end of the boo - this atmospheric entre into a bygone time and place provides a first-person peek into the international political machinations that forged the contemporary Arab world. A natural for book-club discussions.
Feast Day of Fools
by James Lee Burke
Celebrated crime master and two-time Edgar Award winner James Lee Burke returns with a gorgeously crafted, brutally resonant chronicle of violence along the Texas-Mexico border.
Sheriff Hackberry Holland patrols a small Southwest Texas border town, meting out punishment and delivering justice in his small square of this magnificent but lawless land. When an alcoholic ex-boxer named Danny Boy Lorca begs to be locked up after witnessing a man tortured to death by a group of bandits, Hack and his deputy, Pam Tibbs, slowly extract the Indian man's gruesome tale.
It becomes clear that the desert contains a multitude of criminals, including serial murderer Preacher Jack Collins, whom The New York Times Book Review called "one of Burke's most inspired villains."
Holland's investigation leads him to Anton Ling, a mysterious Chinese woman whose steely demeanor and aristocratic beauty compel Hackberry to return to her home again and again as the investigation unfolds.
James Lee Burke is at his engrossing and atmospheric best in this, his 30th novel, as Hackberry plumbs the depths of man's inhumanity to ma - from killers-for-hire, to the U.S. government, to the misguided souls in search of a better life across the border.
In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson
Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011
A vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler's reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America's first ambassador to Hitler's regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha.
Ambassador Dodd, an unassuming and scholarly man, is an odd fit among the extravagance of the Nazi elite. His frugality annoys his fellow Americans in the State Department and Dodd's growing misgivings about Hitler's ambitions fall on deaf ears among his peers, who are content to "give Hitler everything he wants."
Martha, on the other hand, is mesmerized by the glamorous parties and the high-minded conversation of Berlin's salon society - and flings herself headlong into numerous affairs with the city's elite, most notably the head of the Gestapo and a Soviet spy. Both become players in the exhilarating (and terrifying) story of Hitler's obsession for absolute power, which culminates in the events of one murderous night, later known as "the Night of Long Knives."
The rise of Nazi Germany is a well-chronicled time in history, which makes In the Garden of Beasts all the more remarkable. Erik Larson has crafted a gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page, even though we already know the outcome.
by David Baldacci
From Publishers Weekly: Legal thriller fixture Baldacci ("Deliver Us from Evil") churns out a creaky, contrived family drama about Jack Armstrong, a terminally ill family man just praying to make it to Christmas.
Sadness abounds, much more so when Jack's wife, Lizzie, is killed in a car wreck while on a medicine run.
Plans are made by Jack's mean mother-in-law, Bonnie: the three kids will be divided up among aunts and uncles across the country, and Jack will be put into hospice.
Miraculously, Jack's health turns around, and he's able to reclaim his children and move the brood from Ohio to the South Carolina shore where Lizzie grew up. There, he tries to reassemble the family and learn how to be a single parent, and just as they're beginning to settle into a functional family again, Bonnie sues for custody.
Yes, it possesses all the subtlety of a dog fight, but it's also choked with pap ("No matter what you do, no matter how hard you fight, life sometimes just doesn't make sense") and so sappy you'd think Baldacci was earning a commission on each tear jerked.
State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett
Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011
Pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances.
But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond.
Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding child-bearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn't their only connection: Both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget.
In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle's unforgiving humidity and insects, making "State of Wonder" a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today's master storytellers.
Emotional, vivid and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself.
by Ian Rankin
In the wake of "Exit Music" (2008), the concluding volume in his celebrated John Rebus series, Rankin has picked a most unlikely new hero.
Edinburgh cop Malcolm Fox works for "the Complaints," the despised internal-affairs division whose job it is to investigate other cops.
Succeeding the Rebus novels, starring the quintessential maverick copper, with a series built around a cop-hunting cop seems akin to J. K. Rowling following Harry Potter with seven extra-thick novels about a classroom tattletale.
Rankin pulls it off, making Fox the fall guy in an elaborate police conspiracy and causing him to join forces with a detective under suspicion of peddling child porn. The strange-bedfellows angle drives the interpersonal dynamics here - and augurs well for future installments - as Fox, working off the books, investigates the murder of someone very close to home and attempts to turn the frame-up on its end.
Some crime writers keep writing the same series with different characters, but Rankin deserves credit for going another way altogether.
Fox is a good and quiet citizen compared with Rebus (he doesn't drink and listens to birdsong on the radio, not classic rock), but Rankin doesn't hold any of that against his new hero, proving that you can build complex, highly textured, series-worthy characters from the most unlikely of raw materials. A new series from the internationally best-selling Rankin is big news in the mystery world.
The Devil Colony
by James Rollins
From New York Times best-selling author James Rollins comes a novel of boundless imagination and meticulous research, a book that dares to answer a frightening question at the heart of America: Could the founding of the United States be based on a fundamental lie?
The shocking truth lies hidden within the ruins of an impossibility, a lost colony of the Americas vanished in time and cursed into oblivion. A place known only as The Devil Colony.
Deep in the Rocky Mountains, a gruesome discovery of hundreds of mummified bodies stirs international attention and fervent controversy. Despite doubts about the bodies' origins, the local Native American Heritage Commission lays claim to the prehistoric remains, along with the strange artifacts found in the same cavern: gold plates inscribed with an unfathomable script.
During a riot at the dig site, an anthropologist dies horribly, burned to ashes in a fiery explosion in plain view of television cameras. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator, a teenage firebrand who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help - her uncle, Painter Crowe, director of Sigma Force.
To protect his niece and uncover the truth, Painter will ignite a war among the nation's most powerful intelligence agencies. Yet an even greater threat looms as events in the Rocky Mountains have set in motion a frightening chain reaction, a geological meltdown that threatens the entire western half of the U.S.
From the volcanic peaks of Iceland to the blistering deserts of the American Southwest, from the gold vaults of Fort Knox to the bubbling geysers of Yellowstone, Painter Crowe joins forces with Cmmdr. Gray Pierce to penetrate the shadowy heart of a dark cabal, one that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies.
But can Painter discover the truth - one that could topple governments - before it destroys all he holds dear?
Then Came You
by Jennifer Weiner
It's an unexpected love story.
Jules Strauss is a Princeton senior with a full scholarship, acquaintances instead of friends, and a family she's ashamed to invite to Parents' Weekend. With the income she'll receive from donating her "pedigree" eggs, she believes she can save her father from addiction.
Annie Barrow married her high school sweetheart and became the mother to two boys. After years of staying at home and struggling to support four people on her husband's salary, she thinks she's found a way to recover a sense of purpose and bring in some extra cash.
India Bishop, 38 (really 43), has changed everything about herself: her name, her face, her past. In New York, she falls for a wealthy older man, Marcus Croft, and decides a baby will ensure a happy ending. When her attempts at pregnancy fail, she turns to technology, and Annie and Jules, to help make her dreams come true.
But each of their plans is thrown into disarray when Marcus' daughter, Bettina, intent on protecting her father, becomes convinced that his new wife is not what she seems.
With startling tenderness and laugh-out-loud humor, Jennifer Weiner once again takes readers into the heart of women's lives in an unforgettable, timely tale that interweaves themes of class and entitlement, surrogacy and donorship, the rights of a parent and the measure of motherhood.
The Paris Wife
by Paula McClain
From the author: Most of us know or think we know who Ernest Hemingway was: a brilliant writer full of macho swagger, driven to take on huge feats of bravery and a pitcher or two of martinis -- before lunch.
But beneath this man or myth, or some combination of the two, is another Hemingway, one we've never seen before. Hadley Richardson, Hemingway's first wife, is the perfect person to reveal him to us and also to immerse us in the incredibly exciting and volatile world of Jazz-age Paris.
The idea to write in Hadley's voice came to me as I was reading Hemingway's memoir, "A Moveable Feast," about his early years in Paris.
In the final pages, he writes of Hadley, "I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her."
That line, and his portrayal of their marriage -- so tender and poignant and steeped in regret - inspired me to search out biographies of Hadley, and then to research their brief and intense courtship and letters: they wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of delicious pages to another!
I couldn't help but fall in love with Hadley, and through her eyes, with the young Ernest Hemingway. He was just 20 when they met, handsome and magnetic, passionate and sensitive and full of dreams. I was surprised at how much I liked and admired him, and before I knew it, I was entirely swept away by their gripping love story.
I hope you will be as captivated by this remarkable couple as I am - and by the fascinating world of Paris in the 1920s, the fast-living, ardent and tremendously driven Lost Generation.