July books

The Arts

July 1, 2021

notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans, by Cynthia Barnett

Seashells have been the most coveted and collected of nature’s creations since the dawn of humanity. They were money before coins, jewelry before gems, art before canvas. Acclaimed environmental author Cynthia Barnett blends cultural history and science to trace our long love affair with seashells and the hidden lives of the mollusks that make them. She begins with their childhood wonder, unwinds surprising histories like the origin of Shell Oil as a family business importing exotic shells, and charts what shells and the soft animals that build them are telling scientists about our warming, acidifying seas.

From the eerie calls of early shell trumpets to the evolutionary miracle of spines and spires and the modern science of carbon capture inspired by shells, Barnett circles to her central point of listening to nature’s wisdom — and acting on what seashells have to say about taking care of each other and our world.

The Key Man: The True Story of How the Global Elite Was Duped by a Capitalist Fairy Tale, by Simon Clark and Will Louch

In this compelling story of lies, greed and tarnished idealism, two Wall Street Journal reporters investigate a man who Bill Gates, western governments and other investors entrusted with billions of dollars to make profits and end poverty, but who now stands accused of masterminding one of the biggest, most brazen financial frauds ever. Arif Naqvi, the founder of Abraaj, a Dubai-based private-equity firm, was the Key Man to the global elite, searching for impact investments to make money and do good. He persuaded politicians he could help stabilize the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs and guided executives to opportunities in cities they struggled to find on the map. In 2018, Clark and Louch were contacted by an anonymous whistleblower who said Naqvi had swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and offered bribes to sustain his billionaire lifestyle. 

Clark and Louch shine a light on efforts to clean up global capital flows even as opaque private equity firms amass trillions of dollars and offshore tax havens cast a veil of secrecy which prevents regulators, investors and citizens from understanding what is really going on in the finance industry.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

On a perfect July morning, Elle, a 50-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” — the family summer place where she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: Last night, Elle and her oldest friend, Jonas, crept out the back door into the darkness while their spouses chatted away inside. Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives. As Heller colors in the experiences that have led Elle to this day, we arrive at her ultimate decision with all its complexity. Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace considers the tensions between desire and dignity, the legacies of abuse, and the crimes and misdemeanors of families.

False Witness, by Karin Slaughter

Atlanta lawyer Leigh Collier is a defense attorney whose life is on an even keel after a traumatic childhood. Then a case lands on her desk — defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It is the highest profile case she’s ever been given — a case that could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realizes that it’s no coincidence he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened 20 years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running. Slaughter shines an intense spotlight on a new normal laced with Covid-19 protocols and a cast of survivors battling a ruthless pandemic and a serial sadist.  SP

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

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