Notable new releases.
compiled by Sally Brewster
The Silent Wife, by Karin Slaughter
Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a Georgia state penitentiary, Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information: One of the inmates claims he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists he was framed by a corrupt law-enforcement team and that the real culprit is still out there — a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose? As Will Trent digs into both crimes, it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed — time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. Slaughter’s twentieth book is another must read.
The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue
Donoghue’s page-turning story takes readers to a Dublin beleaguered by wartime shortages and ravaged by a lethal new strain of influenza. On Halloween in 1918, nurse Julia Powers, single and ambivalent about marriage, is about to turn 30. When her supervisor gets the flu, Julia is left alone serving a ward of high-risk pregnant influenza patients. Kathleen Lynn, an activist involved with the radical Sinn Féin party, supplements Julia’s own knowledge of obstetrics, and volunteer Bridey Sweeney arrives to help with the backbreaking work. Julia feels a powerful draw to the smart and willing Bridey. As they cope with the ward’s unceasing cycle of birth and death, their closeness challenges Julia’s sense of herself and her life. While the novel’s characters and plot feel thinner than the best of the author’s remarkable oeuvre, her blunt prose and detailed medical descriptions do full justice to the reality of the pandemic and the poverty that helps fuel it. Donoghue’s evocation of the 1918 flu, and the valor it demands of health-care workers, will stay with readers.
Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher, by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz
Detective Eliot Ness began his career as a hard-charging special agent tasked with enforcing Prohibition in gangster-ruled Chicago. Having moved to Cleveland to take the post of head of public safety, he’d been broken by “one case he could never publicly close — the monster who emerged to prey on the city’s weakest and most vulnerable,” a killer branded in the press as a “butcher” for what he did to his victims. And what he did to his victims, most of them marginal people whose disappearances didn’t excite much interest from the police, was horrific.
Upon Ness’ arrival, the police begin to take notice, but they never could quite piece together the serial killer’s pattern until a resident of a veterans’ convalescent home voices his suspicion that the killer is a resident there. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues makes for a read that’s full of surprises.
12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon, by Jamie Holmes
This is the remarkable, lost story of how a ragtag group of American scientists overcame one of the toughest problems of World War II: shooting things out of the sky. Working in a secretive organization known as Section T, a team of physicists, engineers and everyday Joes and Janes took on a devilish challenge. To help the Allies knock airplanes out of the air, they created one of the world’s first “smart weapons.” Against overwhelming odds and in a race against time, the scientists of Section T would eventually save countless lives, rescue the city of London from the onslaught of a Nazi superweapon and help bring about the Axis defeat. A holy grail sought after by Allied and Axis powers alike, their unlikely innovation ranks with the atomic bomb as one of the most revolutionary technologies of the Second World War. Until now, their tale was largely untold. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com