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The Serpent’s Daughter by Suzanne Arruda

The Serpent’s Daughter: A Jade del Cameron Mystery by Suzanne Arruda (2008)
This is the third entry in the Jade del Cameron mysteries. Jade grew up on a ranch in New Mexico and served as an ambulance driver during WWI. Her abilities to survive in extreme circumstances serve her well as her adventures take her to Colonial East Africa. In The Mark of the Lion, she searches for the murderer of her dead fiancé’s father and in Stalking Ivory, she tracks down elephant poachers. Her latest adventure takes her to Morocco where she is to meet her mother before heading off to Spain to buy a stallion for the family ranch. When Jade’s mother is kidnapped, Jade chases after Tangier to Marrakesh. These charming books are part mystery, part Saturday afternoon matinee adventure.

Check out the author's blog for information on Jade and the time period in which she lives.

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke (2007)
James Lee Burke writes with a gritty style, using characters, settings, and issues from the underbelly of southern Louisiana. In his latest book, Burke starts with the premise that Hurricane Katrina damaged New Orleans more than the bomb that struck Hiroshima. Burke manipulates the plot to include events before, during, and after Katrina. His words ring true.

Dave Robicheaux is a compassionate cop who is sucked into the vortex of a Katrina style “blowdown.” Murders, drugs, in your face evil, graphic language, and down home characters – good and bad – confront readers with the historical, world class disaster we call Katrina. In this novel, Burke does a world class job.

City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin

City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin (2006)
The mysterious origins of Anna Anderson, who for sixty years proclaimed herself Anastasia, only survivor of the massacre of Czar Nicholas II’s family, are entwined with the rise of the Nazi party in 1920s and 1930s Berlin.

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells (2000)
Meely LaBauve is a fifteen-year-old Cajun boy living in the swamps of 1960s Louisiana. His mother long dead and his father often away hunting gators, Meely is left to his own devices to feed himself and go to school when he wishes. When a school bully, Junior Guidry, decides to teach Meely a lesson, it takes Meely, his pa and the friends he didn’t know he had to outwit Junior and his crooked cop uncle, and triumph before the judge. This coming-of-age novel is reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn and has a fine ear for dialect and some laugh-out-loud moments. You will root for Meely.

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock (2002) This is the story of a young girl who finds a friend and a family with the Japanese American Hatsunes; however, they lose touch when World War II breaks out and the Hatsunes are interned. Years later she is reunited with her friend while working for the civil rights movement. The story is a clever juxtaposition of the social issues—the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the 1940s.

The Legend of Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

The Legend of Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (2003)
Sayo, born under the disastrous sign of the Fire Horse, comes to California from Japan for an arranged marriage and years later during World War II is imprisoned with her family in a Japanese internment camp. A story which skillfully re-creates the limitations and loneliness of life in the Manzanar camp.

The March by E. L. Doctorow

The March by E. L. Doctorow (2005)
Characters as diverse as freed slaves, Confederate and Union soldiers, a Southern lady, German-born Union surgeon and General Sherman himself populate this very unromantic view of Sherman’s march through the South.

Doctorow was awarded the 2007 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement. The Tribune features an October 28 profile article of the author, a 2005 review of The March, and archived articles. Doctorow was presented with the award on November 4 at the Chicago Humanities Festival. You can also listen to an NPR interview about the book.

Limitations by Scott Turow

Limitations by Scott Turow (2006)
For the uninitiated, once again Turow delves into the mystery of how the law works. George Mason is judge of the Court of Appeals in Kindle County. He is faced with three problems: his wife has cancer, he receives threatening e-mails, and finally, he must decide the outcome of a horrific case of sexual assault. Turow ingeniously resolves these issues, especially the case of sexual assault. A fascinating book.

Check out the author's website for biographical information, a reading group guide (pdf), and the author's backlist.

Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly

Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly (2007)
Joe Sandilands, a WWI vet working for Scotland Yard, is sent to France to see if a mute former soldier suffering from amnesia might actually be English. The soldier is claimed by several different families as their long lost son or husband, and Joe must wade through each story, some motivated by despair, some by greed, to find the identity of the damaged soldier.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai (2001)
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two teenage boys are sent to the countryside for re-education. There they find the pretty little daughter of the local tailor and a forbidden, hidden cache of western novels, which prove very educational to the little seamstress.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (2007)
In 1886, Lady Julia Grey sees her husband collapse and die in the middle of a party at their London townhouse. Julia believes her husband died of natural causes, but, “not so” says Nicholas Brisbane, the mysterious and attractive private detective Julia’s husband had hired because he feared for his life. A charming, romantic book of suspense.

A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale

A Fine Dark LineA Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale (2003)
In East Texas in the late fifties, 13-year-old Stanley Mitchel’s father owns a drive-in at the edge of town. Stanley finds the remains of a burnt out mansion and a cache of hidden love letters in the wooded area behind the theater. When he also finds out that two young girls died mysteriously the night of the fire twenty years before, Stanley investigates.

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

Bridge of SighsBridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (2007)
Louis Lynch lives in the same small upstate New York town he has always lived in. He loves the town, his wife, his business, and the memory of his father, a big, simple bear of a man, dead many years from the cancer that haunts the polluted town. A possible visit to to see childhood friend and famous artist Bobby Marconi brings out all of Louis’s long held insecurities. A dense story of character.

Listen to Russo's October 1 interview on NPR or read an excerpt of his latest work.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Making MoneyMaking Money by Terry Pratchett (2007)
As one of the Discworld series, the book follows the continuing adventures of Moist von Lipwig, “reformed” con man, as he takes over Ankh-Morpork’s banking industry. With his usual flair for sadistic characters and dry humor, Pratchett has produced another book that makes you laugh out loud!

Also check out the author's website for a Discworld travel guide, characters and themes by title, and miniseries information.

Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett

ZugzwangZugzwang by Ronan Bennett (2007)
In German, zugzwang is a term used in chess to describe a position in which a player is reduced to a state of utter helplessness. The action is set in pre-Revolutionary Russia: St. Petersburg, 1914. Dr. Otto Spethmann is a psychiatrist who is drawn into a murderous intrigue and an intriguing romance. It’s a deadly game, but good read.