December books

The Arts

December 1, 2020



Notable new releases.

compiled by Sally Brewster

Eddie’s Boy: A Butcher’s Boy Novel, by Thomas Perry

Perry’s wonderful fourth Butcher’s Boy novel opens with retired hit man Michael Shaeffer driving a car with the bodies of three inept assassins he killed earlier that night as they broke into the Yorkshire manor house he shares with his wife, Meg. Michael intends to find out who ordered the hit on him, and after saying goodbye to Meg he travels to Australia for safety. But when gunmen ambush him there, Michael realizes, after eliminating them with ruthless efficiency, that a trip to the U.S. will be necessary to pinpoint the origin of the attacks. In the U.S., he seeks out Department of Justice employee Elizabeth Waring, who once used him as an informant, and suggests a trade for information about his hunters. It soon becomes clear that the likely instigator is a Mafia don Michael helped send to prison years earlier by framing him for a murder. An immensely clever cat-and-mouse game that Shaeffer engineers involving the DOJ and various mob factions ensues. Perry delivers a master class in the art of propulsive tension.

Perestroika in Paris, by Jane Smiley

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres comes a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals and a young boy whose lives intersect in Paris. Paras is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she pushes open the door of her stall and, after traveling through the night, arrives by chance in Paris. Soon she meets an elegant dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, who knows how to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. Paras and Frida keep company with two irrepressible ducks and an opinionated raven. But then Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, and discovers a new, otherworldly part of Paris: the secluded, ivy-walled house where the boy and his nearly 100-year-old great grandmother live quietly and unto themselves. As the cold weather and Christmas near, the unlikeliest of friendships bloom among humans and animals alike. But how long can a runaway horse live undiscovered in Paris? And how long can a boy keep her hidden and all his own? Jane Smiley’s beguiling new novel is an adventure that celebrates curiosity and ingenuity and an enchanting tale guaranteed to please.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder, by T.A. Willberg

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries receives a letter of warning detailing a name, a time and a place. She goes to investigate but finds no one there. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see, her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect. Marion Lane, a first-year inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery with an exciting new heroine detective.

They Just Seem A Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz remade Rock and Roll, by Doug Brod

Brod, a veteran entertainment journalist, tells the whole strange story of how ’70s rock conquered the world, from Detroit Rock City to the Budokan. He offers an eye- and ear-opening look at a crucial moment in music history, when rock became fun again and a gig became a show. This is the story of friends and frenemies who rose, fell and soared once more, often sharing stages, studios, producers, engineers, managers, agents, roadies and fans — and who are still collaborating more than 40 years later. They Just Seem a Little Weird seamlessly interweaves the narratives of KISS, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith with that of the lesser-known Starz. This is also the story of how these distinctly American groups laid the foundation for two seemingly opposed rock genres: the hair metal of Poison, Skid Row and Mötley Crüe and the grunge of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and the Melvins. Deeply researched and featuring more than 130 new interviews, this book is nothing less than a secret history of classic rock. SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com.

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