The Devil in Her Way – Bill Loehfelm

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When Maureen Coughlin first appeared in The Devil She Knows, the New Orleans Times-Picayune called her “unforgettable” and “the character of the year.” Booklist named The Devil She Knows one of 2011’s ten best thrillers and declared Maureen “as compelling a character as this reviewer expects to see this year.” Now she’s back in Bill Loehfelm’s new thriller, The Devil in Her Way, and her life has changed in more ways than one: she’s starting over in New Orleans as a newly minted member of the police force. Kicking off her final week of field training, Maureen takes a punch from a panicked suspect bursting out of an apartment. Her training officer laughs it off, and the incident even yields a small victory: the cops recover a stash of pot and guns. But out on the street, on the fringes of the action, Maureen sees something sinister transpire between two neighborhood boys that leaves her shaken, and she knows there’s more to the story than she’s seen. As we follow Maureen’s dangerous hunt for answers, Loehfelm leads us around New Orleans’ most hidden corners and into its darkest outposts. Bill Loehfelm is the real deala lauded thriller writer in the modern tradition of Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, and Michael Connelly. He knows the voices of his city. Like Lehane’s Boston, Price’s New York City, or Connelly’s Los Angeles, Loehfelm’s New Orleans leaps off the page, as vibrant, flawed, and unruly as his reborn, fire-hearted protagonist. In The Devil in Her Way, Loehfelm’s talents flourish, and the result is a ruthless and propulsive thriller.
Unabridged.
Read by Renée Raudman.

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Parallel Lines (One Chord Wonders #1) – Frank Cottrell Boyce

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Frank Cottrell Boyce’s series of plays about the punk generation 30 years on begins with the story of Julie, the singer in an ageing Blondie tribute band. An invitation to the reunion of the audience at an Adverts gig in 1977 brings some skeletons dancing from the cupboard.

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The Pearl – John Steinbeck

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The Pearl

Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull’s egg, as “perfect as the moon.” With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security….A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man’s nature, greed, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.

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Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) – Jeaniene Frost

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Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, #4)

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave dangerSince half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

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Deeds of Darkness (Home Front Detective #4) – Edward Marston

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In June 1916, a young woman is found murdered in a cinema. Harvery Marmion and Joe Keedy set out to find the killer who so elusively fled in the dark. Before long, two more victims, of striking similarity but differing backgrounds, are found dead around the city.Meanwhile, miles from home, Marmion s son Paul prepares for life on the front line as he marches towards the Battle of the Somme. Suffering a vicious blow in No Man s Land, Paul is left blinded for the rest of his life. Marmion must come to terms with the permanent darkness of his son s life, while continuing to search for the brutal killer who only strikes in the dark.”

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Bleeding Edge – Thomas Pynchon

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Bleeding Edge

Thomas Pynchon brings us to New York in the early days of the internetIt is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left.Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people’s bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since.Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?Hey. Who wants to know?

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Gulag: A History – Anne Applebaum

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Gulag: A History

The Gulag–a vast array of Soviet concentration camps that held millions of political and criminal prisoners–was a system of repression and punishment that terrorized the entire society, embodying the worst tendencies of Soviet communism. In this magisterial and acclaimed history, Anne Applebaum offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution, through its expansion under Stalin, to its collapse in the era of glasnost. Applebaum intimately re-creates what life was like in the camps and links them to the larger history of the Soviet Union. Immediately recognized as a landmark and long-overdue work of scholarship, Gulag is an essential book for anyone who wishes to understand the history of the twentieth century.

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The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice – Michael Krondl

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The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice

The smell of sweet cinnamon on your morning oatmeal, the gentle heat of gingerbread, the sharp piquant bite from your everyday peppermill. The tales these spices could tell: of lavish Renaissance banquets perfumed with cloves, and flimsy sailing ships sent around the world to secure a scented prize; of cinnamon-dusted custard tarts and nutmeg-induced genocide; of pungent elixirs and the quest for the pepper groves of paradise. The Taste of Conquest offers up a riveting, globe-trotting tale of unquenchable desire, fanatical religion, raw greed, fickle fashion, and mouthwatering cuisine–in short, the very stuff of which our world is made. In this engaging, enlightening, and anecdote-filled history, Michael Krondl, a noted chef turned writer and food historian, tells the story of three legendary cities–Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam–and how their single-minded pursuit of spice helped to make (and remake) the Western diet and set in motion the first great wave of globalization.In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the world’s peoples were irrevocably brought together as a result of the spice trade. Before the great voyages of discovery, Venice controlled the business in Eastern seasonings and thereby became medieval Europe’s most cosmopolitan urban center. Driven to dominate this trade, Portugal’s mariners pioneered sea routes to the New World and around the Cape of Good Hope to India to unseat Venice as Europe’s chief pepper dealer. Then, in the 1600s, the savvy businessmen of Amsterdam “invented” the modern corporation–the Dutch East India Company–and took over as spice merchants to the world.Sharing meals and stories with Indian pepper planters, Portuguese sailors, and Venetian foodies, Krondl takes every opportunity to explore the world of long ago and sample its many flavors. The spice trade and its cultural exchanges didn’t merely lend kick to the traditional Venetian cookies called peverini, or add flavor to Portuguese sausages of every description, or even make the Indonesian rice table more popular than Chinese takeout in trendy Amsterdam. No, the taste for spice of a few wealthy Europeans led to great crusades, astonishing feats of bravery, and even wholesale slaughter.As stimulating as it is pleasurable, and filled with surprising insights, The Taste of Conquest offers a fascinating perspective on how, in search of a tastier dish, the world has been transformed.

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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time – Dava SobelNeil Armstrong

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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

On its 10th anniversary, a gift edition of this classic book, with a forward by one of history’s greatest explorers, and eight pages of color illustrations.Anyone alive in the eighteeth century would have known that “the logitude problem” was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day–and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution.The scientific establishment of Europe–from Galileo to Sir Issac Newton–had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution–a clock that would keep percise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land. Longitude is a dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and Harrison’s forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our world.

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The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew – Alan Lightman

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The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion—at once haunting and exhilarating—that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

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