Notable new releases
compiled by Sally Brewster
American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System by David S. Rudolf
Renowned criminal defense and civil rights attorney David Rudolf has spent decades defending the wrongfully accused here in Charlotte. In American Injustice, he draws from his years of experience in the American criminal legal system to shed light on the misconduct that exists at all levels of law enforcement and the tragic consequences that follow in its wake. Tracing these themes through the lens of some of his most important cases — including new details from the Michael Peterson trial made famous in The Staircase — Rudolf takes the reader inside crime scenes to examine forensic evidence left by perpetrators; revisits unsolved murders to detail how and why the true culprits were never prosecuted; reveals how confirmation bias leads police and prosecutors to employ tactics that make wrongful arrests and prosecutions more likely; and exposes how poverty and racism fundamentally distort the system.
The Torqued Man by Peter Mann
A teasing literary thriller and a darkly comic blend of history and invention, The Torqued Man is set in wartime Berlin and propelled by two very different but equally mesmerizing voices: a German spy handler and his Irish secret agent, neither of whom are quite what they seem. Two manuscripts are found in rubble, each one narrating conflicting versions of the life of an Irish spy during the war. One is the journal of a German military intelligence officer and an anti-Nazi cowed into silence named Adrian de Groot, charting his relationship with his agent, friend and sometimes lover, an Irishman named Frank Pike. In de Groot’s narrative, Pike is a charismatic IRA fighter sprung from prison in Spain to assist with the planned German invasion of Britain, but who never gets the chance to consummate his deal with the devil.
Meanwhile, the other manuscript gives a very different account of the Irishman’s doings in the Reich. Assuming the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, Pike appears here as the ultimate Allied saboteur. His mission: an assassination campaign of high-ranking Nazi doctors, culminating in the killing of Hitler’s personal physician.
The two manuscripts spiral around each other, leaving only the reader to know the full truth of Pike and de Groot’s relationship, their ultimate loyalties and their efforts to resist the fascist reality in which they are caught.
Anthem by Noah Hawley
The wheels are coming off in America. Opioid addictions accelerate unstoppably. Environmental collapse can be read in every weather report. Vigilante bands take over streets at night, wearing clown face makeup. The very idea of government, of citizenship, is challenged daily. And something is happening to teenagers across the country, spreading through memes only they understand. At the Float Anxiety Abatement Center in a suburb of Chicago, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. He breaks out to join a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower. Noah Hawley’s new novel is a freewheeling adventure that finds unquenchable lights in dark corners.
Small World by Jonathan Evison
The characters of Small World connect in the most intriguing and meaningful ways, winning, breaking and winning our hearts again. In exploring the lives of passengers aboard a speeding train and those of their ancestors more than a century before, Small World chronicles 170 years of American nation-building from numerous points of view across place and time. And it does so with a full-hearted, full-throttle pace that asks on the most human, intimate scale whether it is truly possible to meet, and survive, the choices posed — and forced — by the age.
The result is a historical epic with a Dickensian flair, a grand entertainment that asks whether our nation has made good on its promises. It dazzles as its characters come to connect with one another through time. And it hits home as it probes at our country’s injustices, big and small, straight through to its deeply satisfying final words.
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in 12 hours. He knows what he’s done and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die — he wants to be celebrated, understood. Through a kaleidoscope of women — a mother, a sister, a homicide detective — we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a 17-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com