Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thrills, Chills and Mystery
Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters is a high-suspense tale of kaleidoscoping loyalties in the post-9/11 world that shows one of our great novelists at the top of his game.

Roland Nair calls himself Scandinavian but travels on a U.S. passport. After ten years’ absence, he returns to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to reunite with his friend Michael Adriko. They once made a lot of money here during the country’s civil war, and, curious to see whether good luck will strike twice in the same place, Nair has allowed himself to be drawn back to a region he considers hopeless.
Adriko is an African who styles himself a soldier of fortune and who claims to have served, at various times, the Ghanaian army, the Kuwaiti Emiri Guard, and the American Green Berets. He’s probably broke now, but he remains, at thirty-six, as stirred by his own doubtful schemes as he was a decade ago.

Although Nair believes some kind of money-making plan lies at the back of it all, Adriko’s stated reason for inviting his friend to Freetown is for Nair to meet Adriko’s fiancée, a grad student from Colorado named Davidia. Together the three set out to visit Adriko’s clan in the Uganda-Congo borderland—but each of these travelers is keeping secrets from the others. Their journey through a land abandoned by the future leads Nair, Adriko, and Davidia to meet themselves not in a new light, but rather in a new darkness.
Winner of the Prix Quai du Polar, Antoin Varenne is a rising star in the exciting new wave of French crime fiction.

Hard-boiled Paris police lieutenant Richard Guérin thought he knew the depths of human tragedy and perversion during his years investigating suicide cases—not to mention his childhood, raised by his prostitute mother (who left him nothing but her foul-mouthed parrot).

But when a slew of cases that are way too bizarre to be straightforward suicides end up on his desk, Guérin begins to suspect that he is up against a nihilistic evil beyond anything he’s encountered before.

First, there is Alan Musgrave, an American man who bleeds himself to death on stage during a sick S&M show in an underground Paris nightclub. Another runs naked into traffic with arms outstretched and is splattered to pulp by a heavy truck. Yet another hurls himself from a museum balcony to death by impalement on a whale skeleton.

Guérin’s corrupt police colleagues ridicule his determination to find the connections between these horrifying deaths. Yet he presses on, plunging into the seamy sadomasochistic underbelly of the City of Lights that most never see.

Unexpected help comes from a friend of Musgrave’s, an eccentric and resourceful rich American named John Nichols who has recently arrived in Paris toting a bow and arrows. The bloody trail leads them to the upper reaches of both the Parisian police force and the American embassy, while Guérin begins to suspect that the ultimate answer may lie somewhere in Nichols’s past.

In Bed of Nails, Varenne does for Paris what James Ellroy did for vintage Los Angeles: He expertly throws a bright light on a fashionable city’s hideous hidden face. critically acclaimed novelist Bradford Morrow, called "a mesmerizing storyteller who casts an irresistible spell" by Joyce Carol Oates and "one of America's major literary voices" by Publishers Weekly, comes The Forgers, a richly told literary thriller about the dark side of the rare book world.

The rare book world is stunned when a reclusive collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and original manuscripts that have been vandalized beyond repair. Adam's sister, Meghan, and her lover, Will--a convicted if unrepentant literary forger--struggle to come to terms with the seemingly incomprehensible murder. But when Will begins receiving threatening handwritten letters, seemingly penned by long-dead authors, but really from someone who knows secrets about Adam's death and Will's past, he understands his own life is also on the line--and attempts to forge a new beginning for himself and Meg.

In The Forgers, Morrow reveals the passion that drives collectors to the razor-sharp edge of morality, brilliantly confronting the hubris and mortal danger of rewriting history with a fraudulent pen.
Turner Raines is not a typical New York private eye. He'd tell you so much himself, "I may not be the greatest gumshoe alive, but I'm a good listener." He is a has-been—among the things he has been are a broken Civil Rights worker, a second-rate lawyer, and a tenth-rate journalist. But as a detective, he's found his niche.

In the summer of 1969—the hottest, sweatiest in history, the American summer in the American year in the American century—the USA is about to land a man on the moon, and the Vietnam War is set to continue to rip the country to pieces, setting sons against fathers, fathers against sons. If your kid dodges the draft, hooks up with a hippie commune, makes a dash for Canada, Turner Raines is the man to find him. He won't drag him back, that's not the deal, but he will put you in touch with your loved one.

That turbulent May of 1969, as Norman Mailer runs for Mayor of New York, Raines leaves the city, chasing a draft-dodging punk all the way to Toronto. Nothing goes as planned. By the time Raines gets back to New York, his oldest friend is dead, the city has changed for ever, and with it, his life. Following the trail of his friend's death, he finds himself blasted back to the Texas of his childhood, confronted anew with the unresolved issues of his divided family, and blown into the path of certain people who know about secret goings-on in Vietnam, stories they may now be willing to tell. Lucky for Raines, he's a good listener.

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