My annual sampling of summertime reading appeared in this space June 24, with this introduction: “Summer means travel, relaxation and the companionship of a can’t-put-it-down book or two, or more likely several.” The key word here is several, as my inventory of worthwhile page-turners – both fiction and nonfiction – continues to grow. Look at this as Part 2 and counting. Like my previous installment, this list is arranged alphabetically by authors’ last names.
“The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 416 pages): Young Jonah Kirk is a musical prodigy who meets the wrong people on his journey to stardom. The horrormeister leads his character from the familiar into a land of magic and malice.
“The Long Way Home” by Louise Penny (Minotaur, $26, 416 pages; on sale Aug. 26): Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec police is summoned to a remote village by a friend, who says her honored guest has failed to arrive for the Christmas holidays. Events take a dramatic turn when Gamache discovers the missing woman “was once one of the most famous people in the world, but now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone.” This is Penny’s ninth Gamache mystery.
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“Murder At Cape Three Points” by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime, $27, 336 pages): When the bodies of a prominent couple are found in a canoe that has washed up on the Ghanaian coast, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is sent to investigate. Quartey is a physician who emigrated to the United States and now lives in Pasadena.
“The Accidental Apprentice” by Vikas Swarup (Minotaur, $26, 448 pages): A billionaire businessman makes a bizarre offer to a young saleswoman: If she can pass “seven tests from the textbook of life,” he will make her the CEO of his multinational company. Swarup is an Indian diplomat whose first novel, “Slumdog Millionaire,” was made into an Oscar-winning film.
“Don’t Talk To Strangers” by Amanda Kyle Williams (Bantam, $26, 336 pages): Former FBI profiler and now Atlanta P.I. Keye Street takes to the Georgia woods to help a small-town sheriff solve a mystery that begins with the discovery of two murdered teenage girls. Then a third girl goes missing, and Street gets the eerie feeling she’s being stalked.
“The Mockingbird Next Door” by Marja Mills (Penguin, $28, 288 pages): The intensely private Nelle Harper Lee has never said much about her classic 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has long been part of our national psyche. Then she granted a rare interview in 2001 to journalist Mills, later befriended her and later still told her the real story behind the novel and the many consequences of literary fame.
“The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972” by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 784 pages; July 29): Described by many historians as a paranoid political genius, President Richard Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China, founded the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and convinced the Soviet Union that detente was a good thing. On the other hand, there was that nasty business at the Watergate hotel and the infamous Enemies List. This slice of never-before-transcribed White House tapes reminds us of the shocking extent of Nixon’s wild ride.
“Man On the Run: Paul McCartney In the 1970s” by Tom Doyle (Ballantine, $27, 288 pages): The rock journalist sat down with one of the world’s most famous rock stars for dozens of revealing sessions, mostly recounting how McCartney reinvented himself after the breakup of the Beatles.
“The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases” by Deborah Halber (Simon & Schuster, $25, 304 pages): The Internet is home to thousands of “armchair sleuths” who search online for clues to solve unsolved cases, matching the unidentified deceased with their identities. Who’s who, and why are they doing this?
“Jet Set” by William Stadiem (Ballantine, $28, 384 pages): The world got smaller in 1958, when Pan American World Airways launched flights between New York and Paris aboard a new flying machine known as the Boeing 707. Over the next decade, jet-setters and the middle class alike took to the air, heralding an era of glamor and globe-trotting never to be seen again. Vanity Fair writer Stadiem drops dishy tales along the route, involving Sean Connery, Ian Fleming, the Rat Pack, Grace Kelly, Oleg Cassini, miniskirt designer Mary Quant, travel-guide writers Temple Fielding and Arthur Frommer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Conrad Hilton and others.
“The People’s Platform” by Astra Taylor (Metropolitan, $27, 288 pages): How democratic has the Internet made the new world order? Not at all, argues cultural commentator and documentary filmmaker Taylor. World cultures are being assaulted, she writes, and Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are the new “gatekeepers” to a not-so-brave new world of digital inequity that stifles our human-ness.
“Tiger, Meet My Sister” by Rick Reilly (Blue Rider, $28, 368 pages): The ESPN sportswriter compiles his most outrageous and moving columns, speaking out on NFL cheerleaders, tattoo art, college basketball, tennis and pro athletes including Eli and Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on July 23 to correct the title of Louise Penny’s book.