As much as we enjoy our modern luxuries, there’s something about Jane Austen’s era that keeps us coming back for more. It seems a simpler, less harried, and more genteel time, and especially around the holidays that may truly appeal. What would the Christmas season have been like for the author herself? Stephanie Barron imagines exactly that in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, but she also throws in a dead body or two. No need to worry that our heroine will swoon; the very qualities that make her a keen observer of character also lend themselves to identifying motive, and she is no stranger to inquests, this being her twelfth mystery. Exquisite historical detail and hints of characters that will come to be make this a gift-wrapped read for any self-respecting Janeite.
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What does a spy thriller set in Africa have in common with a book about the conservation of endangered birds? The recommendation of a bookseller working at an American independent bookstore! Every month IndieBound releases the Indie Next list. This list is made up of new books from all different genres recommended by an independent bookseller. As a result, the list is an eclectic mix of titles for readers to check out.
Recently, the November 2014 list was released. Check some of the titles out below:
Not interested in the titles above? Check out the entire list here and ask a Readers’ Advisor at the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor to find new and old titles tailored to your taste.
In a brilliant inversion of crime drama tropes, International Emmy Award winner Accused reveals the unlikely perpetrator in the first moments of the episode. What we don’t know is what was done or why. Each story begins with a prisoner awaiting his or her verdict, and then we are dropped into an earlier seemingly ordinary day in the accused’s life. It isn’t, of course. Unfolding events reveal a tipping point at which a situation spun out of control. What could turn an average citizen into a criminal awaiting a verdict? No two answers are the same, and neither is the degree of guilt. Boasting spectacular performances by a Who’s Who of British character actors, Accused is provocative television at its finest.
The President of the United States of America, Margaret Myers, has just learned her son along with a dozen other American civilians was murdered in Mexico. Having won her presidency on the platform of no new warfare, yet determined to seek justice, Myers must think outside of the box in this delicate and deadly situation. Just outside of the box is Troy Pearce, CEO of the private security firm Pearce Systems and a leader in drone technology. A former CIA SOG, Pearce has extensive training, but this job might be harder than even he can handle. Building in intensity, Drone by Mike Maden gives readers a sweeping look at military technology and the intricacies of politics in this suspenseful techno-thriller.
Title: The Pale Blue Eye
Author: Louis Bayard
Page Count: 412 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Tone: Plot-driven, literary, intricate
Summary from publisher:
At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, but he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling named Edgar Allan Poe.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. Was Poe what you expected? Did his character fit with what you already knew? Did Poe’s character surprise you at all?
2. Did you ever suspect or doubt Poe?
3.Did you trust Poe’s accounts? Did he embellish? Was he objective?
4.What would the story have been without Poe? Why include him? Is it a gimmick? A distraction? Is the narrative better for his inclusion? Is the story more about the mystery/investigation or more about Poe?
5. Are Landor and Poe well-matched? Do they complement each other? Are they good or bad for each other?
6. Why do you think Landor and Poe “clicked” so quickly and well?
7. Why did West Point bring Landor in? What does this reveal about the culture of West Point and about Landor? What was his style as an investigator?
8. In the development of the story, were you curious about Landor’s backstory? His private life? Was this changed at the end? In retrospect, were the clues laid?
9. Turning our attention to other characters, what did you make of Mr. Allan?
10. What do you make of each one of the Marquis family?
11. What is the significance of “the pale blue eye”? To whom does it first refer to? How about later in the story?
12. What is the allusion to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”?
13. Did the solution/revelation surprise you? Was this a satisfactory mystery?
14. What did you notice about the writing and the language? Were there times Poe/Bayard tried too hard, was too flowery, was too indirect, or did you appreciate the expressiveness, the images evoked?
15. Did the juxtaposition of language/poetry with the grisly mystery work or did it clash? Did the pacing seem uneven or not?
16. Did the historical details ring true? Were they well-chosen?
17. Is it believable that Poe would keep the secret? Do you believe he was behind Stoddard’s death?
18. Does Poe’s ordeal give him reason/foundation for rest of life’s writing?
19. Would Poe have approved of this story? Is it like him?
20. To what kind of reader would you recommend this book to?
If you liked The Pale Blue Eye, try…
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Mystery Books
New: Thrillers and Suspense
As tickled as I was to see Veronica Mars return, I missed the inventive noir detective work and motley associates. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by creator Rob Thomas improves upon the movie, giving Veronica plenty of opportunity to outwit and out-quip those in Neptune who have something to hide.
In the not-too-distant future, the world changes because of a virus. Those most affected with Haden’s Syndrome become “locked in” to their own bodies, unable to move or physically react to any stimulus. Sufferers contribute to society via the use of threeps, android-like models that offer mobility and interaction with the rest of the population. They can even hold jobs, and Chris Shane is starting his first week as an FBI agent. Lock In by John Scalzi is witty science fiction in the guise of corporate thriller. As Shane and his partner puzzle out a series of seemingly politically motivated deaths, they are faced with both the intriguing possibilities and the unthinkable dangers of this brave new world.
Imagine you are a less-than-legit businessperson and you need someone who is smart, resourceful, and willing to operate outside the law to investigate some internal sabotage. You’ll also need to ensure that this individual can be controlled. What do you do? If you are Trey Annunziato, you set up one of the best career burglars in an interrupted robbery of a dangerously “connected” family and then blackmail him into helping you keep your new adult movie venture on schedule. Crashed is the first of Timothy Hallinan’s Junior Bender series, and Peter Berkrot’s reading brings every wisecracking, dangerous moment to life. As Junior tries to keep worse trouble for himself at bay, he develops a soft spot for the former child star he’s supposed to be pushing into a questionable career choice. Donald Westlake fans will enjoy the schemes, and listeners will no doubt want to hear more of Bender’s voice.
Ten years into serving time for her mother’s murder, famous party girl Janie Jenkins is released from jail on a technicality. Everyone in Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little thinks Janie is guilty. They might be right. Janie can’t remember how she ended up next to her mother’s body covered in blood…