Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 6, 2018

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker


B&N First Quarter: Sales Fall 6.9%; Net Loss Rises

Total sales at Barnes & Noble in the first quarter ended July 28 fell 6.9%, to $795 million, and the net loss rose 57.4%, to $17 million. Both sales and the net loss were worse than analysts' estimates--sales were $38.6 million less than expected, and the net loss of 23 cents a share was 14 cents more than expected. As a result, in pre-market trading, B&N stock, which closed yesterday at $4.95 a share, is down about 7%.

In the quarter, retail sales fell 6.5%, to $775.7 million, while Nook sales were down 14.3%, to $25.3 million.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 6.1%, although the company found a silver lining, saying, "Comparable store sales improved each month of the quarter, declining 7.8%, 6.1% and 4.5%. The sales trend continued to improve into the second quarter, declining 0.8% in August."

Chairman Len Riggio commented: "We fully realize that cutting expenses does not alone provide a path to the long term viability of any retail business. Therefore, our short and long term focus is to grow our top line, and, by doing so, provide us the cash flow needed to grow our business."

The company offered a positive outlook for the rest of the year, saying that as it "prepares for the holiday season, it is encouraged by the sequential improvement in its sales trend and the fall title line-up. The organization is focused on its merchandising initiatives to grow sales, while continuing to control expenses."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

S&S Sales Restructuring; New Position for Wendy Sheanin

Simon & Schuster has set up a new structure for some of its sales channels that has led to some additions and promotions, including the promotion of indie bookstore champion Wendy Sheanin into a new position in the sales division. In announcing the changes, senior v-p, sales, Gary Urda wrote that the moves "address the demands and capitalize on the opportunities of today's ever-changing marketplace" and aim to make the sales division "optimally organized to serve our accounts and their customers, our readers."

Wendy Sheanin

The changes include:

Wendy Sheanin, v-p, director of marketing, adult trade group, is joining the sales division as v-p, independent retail sales, a newly created position. She will be responsible for managing the field sales, telemarketing and telesales organizations that service independent bookstores.

Urda noted: "With the growth and resurgence of the independent bookstore marketplace, Wendy's years of experience and expertise in marketing to this channel, her passionate advocacy for our books and her intimate knowledge and understanding of this account base will allow us to deepen our already strong relationships with these important taste makers."

Tracy Nelson continues as director of independent retail sales and reports to Sheanin.

Paula Amendolara has been promoted to v-p, director of national accounts. In addition to Barnes & Noble and AWBC/Books-A-Million, she will now be responsible for sales to mass market retailers, including Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's, Target, Walmart and airports, as well as the distributors that service them, including Readerlink, Baker & Taylor and Ingram.

Nicole Vines Verlin has joined the company as v-p, special sales. She was formerly director, special sales, mass market and export sales at Sterling Publishing and earlier worked in special sales at HarperCollins and Macmillan.

Eileen Gentillo has been promoted to v-p, director of sales operations.

Jisoo Leones has been promoted to manager, sales operations and client publisher services.

Andrés Feliciano has been promoted to coordinator, client publisher services.

Lis Kingren-Hawkins has been named sales operations coordinator. She was formerly in children's sales.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

National Book Festival Breaks Attendance, Sales Records

Politics and Prose at the National Book Festival

The National Book Festival last Saturday in Washington, D.C., was the largest in the event's 18-year history. Citing estimates from several Library of Congress officials, the Washington Post reported that the festival drew at least 200,000 readers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C. and that "packed rooms were the order of the day for almost all the presentations."

"Authors new to the festival were agog at the sizes of their audiences--positively gobsmacked," said NBF literary director Marie Arana. "We probably made heads grow in the process, but we love making authors feel like rock stars. We're going to have to learn how to manage larger crowds, that's for certain. We are outgrowing many of the halls."

Politics and Prose Bookstore, the official bookseller of the festival, sold more than 17,000 books, which was a record, the Post noted. Co-owner Bradley Graham, who brought a staff of more than 70 people to run P&P's pop-up store, said, "The crowds were definitely bigger than any we've seen since the festival moved to the convention center in 2014."

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Oakland's Laurel Book Store Closes

Last Friday was the final day of business for Laurel Book Store, Oakland, Calif., which had announced earlier this summer it would be closing August 31. Owner Luan Stauss said at the time that since moving downtown four years ago, the store had experienced financial difficulties because of a poor retail environment in her part of downtown. Last summer, Stauss went public about the store's problems and sought a business partner.

In a final e-newsletter, she told her customers: "It's important that you support your local businesses, whether near your home or your work. Get out and see what is near you. If you need something, check locally before you go online. Chances are, with a little effort, you'll find what you need. And if you don't, try asking a merchant if they can get it for you. I've gotten to know how amazing the retail community is in downtown Oakland and would love for everyone else to take the time to explore and support the businesses that we have here. It truly takes all of us to make a community and how you shop determines it."

Another Oakland indie, A Great Good Place for Books, posted a tribute on its Facebook page: "Today is a sad day in Bay Area bookselling. My good friend and partner-in-crime, Luan Stauss, closed the Laurel Bookstore. She moved her bookstore from Oakland's Laurel District to Downtown Oakland--almost immediately she encountered the challenges that would eventually lead to the closure--protests, parking challenges, high rent and low foot traffic.

"You may be asking how this impacts our community? Well, Luan is a champion of community, up-and-coming writers and supporting our Oakland schools.

"What can you do so this doesn't happen to another indie bookstore? Shop at our local indies! Come by A Great Good Place for Books, Walden Pond Books, Pendragon, East Bay Booksellers, Mrs. Dalloways and any indie bookstore near you/ Remember buying #JustOneBook makes a huge difference! I wish Luan all the success in her next adventure BUT Rhett I'm sure going to miss you!"

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Bernie Sanders Introduces 'Stop BEZOS Act' Aimed at Amazon, Walmart

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the "Stop BEZOS Act," a bill aimed at large corporations like Amazon and Walmart that are notorious for low wages.

Unveiled Wednesday by Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna of California and named for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the bill would require companies with more than 500 employees to pay 100% tax on every dollar of government assistance that their workers receive. The tax would apply to everything from Medicaid and food stamps to public housing and other aid. The bill's full name stands for the "Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies" Act.

Sanders has been a vocal critic of Amazon in recent months, pointing out on Twitter and in public appearances that Amazon's warehouse workers are forced to rely on food stamps or sleep in their cars despite Bezos's immense wealth. In addition, this week Amazon's market capitalization (the value of its stock) topped $1 trillion, making Amazon only the second company, after Apple, to reach that level.

According to CNBC, Amazon has called some of Sanders's earlier claims about its warehouses "inaccurate and misleading," and as of Wednesday afternoon a spokesperson would not comment further on the bill.

Per the Washington Post (personally owned by Bezos), a spokesman for Sanders said "the senator's office has heard from hundreds of current and former Amazon workers in recent weeks who had to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and other government programs to cover their families' basic needs."

Obituary Note: Amanda Kyle Williams

Amanda Kyle Williams, a crime fiction writer in Decatur, Ga., died August 31 at the age of 61, Decaturish reported. The cause of death was endometrial cancer.

Williams was best known for the Keye Street series of detective novels that began in 2010 with The Stranger You Seek. The book, which was shortlisted for both the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the Shamus Award, starred Asian-American private investigator Keye Street, a former FBI agent and recovering alcoholic dragged into the search for a serial killer stalking Atlanta. The series was published by Bantam.

In creating the character of Keye Street, Williams drew on her own history of substance abuse and was inspired in part by her brother's adopted daughter, a young Asian girl who "sounded like Ellie Mae Clampett," the Beverly Hillbillies character played by Donna Douglas. According to Decaturish, while on her way home from her brother's house after Thanksgiving one year, Williams started wondering "how her niece would be seen by others," and suddenly the character who would become Keye Street popped into her head. She then "pulled over to the side of I-75" and wrote down a handful of lines in that new character's voice.

Williams was born in Virginia in 1957 and grew up in Colorado and Georgia. In a surprising turn for someone who would make a living as an author, Williams did not read her first book until the age of 23. She had undiagnosed dyslexia and dropped out of high school almost unable to read. In her teens and young adulthood she struggled with substance abuse and addiction, and prior to deciding to become a writer at the age of 28, Williams held a succession of odd jobs in the Decatur area, working as a pet sitter, house painter, embroiderer and more.

Her career as a writer began in 1990 with the publication of Club Twelve, a spy novel featuring a lesbian CIA agent named Madison McGuire. She would go on to write three more Madison McGuire books in the early '90s, published by Naiad Press, before becoming a freelancer for the Southern Voice and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An animal lover, Williams "rescued countless cats and dogs" and was a founding board member of LifeLine Animal Project, a non-profit which manages animal shelters in the Decatur area.

Williams was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Of the diagnosis she wrote: "There is gold to be mined during the storms in life."


'7 Unique Bookstores in the U.S.'

In featuring "7 unique bookstores in the U.S.," Budget Travel noted that indies "play the role of literary sanctuary for readers both young and old, and the fact that bookstores are celebrated in the age of Kindles and digital downloads is a testament to the written word. From stores that specialize in a certain genre, like children’s books in French, to others that offer creative features such as a public typewriter, they also often function as community centers, hosting readings with both local and well-known authors. We scoured the country from the Pacific Coast to New England to the Deep South to bring you seven unique bookstores that deserve a visit, whether you're passing through or looking for a way to spend a day."

Pennie Picks The Dinner List

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250295187) as her pick of the month for September. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Oh, to have the dinner of a lifetime. I don't mean the kind filled with culinary delights; I mean the kind where you can invite anyone--dead or alive. That's just what Sabrina, the star of this month's book buyer's pick, The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle, gets to do.

"The result is an unfolding understanding of why each of the five other people is at her 30th birthday dinner.

"For the record, my list--which is prone to change and grow--includes my maternal grandparents, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Clementine Churchill and Ben Franklin."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Norman Eisen on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Norman Eisen, author of The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House (Crown, $, 9780451495785).

NPR's On Point: John Kerry, author of Every Day Is Extra (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501178955).

All Things Considered: Michael Donkor, author of Housegirl: A Novel (Picador, $16, 9781250305176).

This Weekend on Book TV: Rick Wilson on Everything Trump Touches Dies

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 8
3:30 p.m. Brian Kilmeade, co-author of Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America's Destiny (Sentinel, $28, 9780735213234), at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

5:45 p.m. Patricia O'Toole, author of The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9780743298094), at the National Book Festival.

6:30 p.m. Charlene Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements (Beacon Press, $22.95, 9780807019412), at the Strand Bookstore in New York City.

7:45 p.m. Anil Ananthaswamy, author of Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality (Dutton, $27, 9781101986097), at Pegasus and Pendragon Books in Berkeley, Calif. (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. C.J. Chivers, author of The Fighters (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451676648), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:30 p.m.)

9:30 p.m. Heather Mac Donald, author of The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250200914). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. Arne Duncan, author of How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781501173059). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Phyllis Chesler, author of A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250094421), at the Strand Bookstore in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)

Sunday, September 9
12 a.m. Rick Wilson, author of Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever (Free Press, $27, 9781982103125), at Politics & Prose. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

10:30 a.m. Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (Atria/37 INK, $26, 9781501126390), at the National Book Festival.

7 p.m. Steven R. Weisman, author of The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781416573265), at Politics & Prose.

8:10 p.m. Lawrence Jackson, author of Chester B. Himes: A Biography (Norton, $35, 9780393063899), at the National Book Festival.

10 p.m. Jon Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, authors of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Penguin Press, $28, 9780735224896).

Books & Authors

Awards: Ottaway; Center for Fiction First Novel; National Translation

Chad Post, director of Open Letter Books and managing editor of Three Percent, will receive 2018 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature, which "recognizes an individual whose work and activism have supported Words Without Borders's mission of promoting cultural understanding through the publication and promotion of international literature." The annual award will be presented to Post by Deep Vellum publisher Will Evans on October 30 at the WWB Gala in New York City.

"Through his vital work with Open Letter, the Translation Database, his Three Percent blog, and founding of the Best Translated Book Award, Chad Post has done more than perhaps any other individual to identify and begin to fill the void for translated literature in the U.S.," said Words Without Borders board chair Samantha Schnee. "We are thrilled to celebrate his tremendous contributions and achievements with this year's Ottaway Award."


The shortlist for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, given to the best debut novel of the year, has been announced. The winner will be announced at the Center's Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 11 in New York City. The shortlist:

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (Simon & Schuster)
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg (One World)
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (Grove Press)
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat (Holt)
Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin (Scribner)
There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)
Trenton Makes by Tadzio Koelb (Doubleday)


The American Literary Translators Association has unveiled shortlists for the 2018 National Translation Awards, honoring "translated fiction, poetry and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work." The winning translators, who receive a $2,500 each, will be named at ALTA's annual conference, held October 31-November in Bloomington, Ind. The NTA shortlisted titles are:

Directions for Use by Ana Ristović, translated from the Serbian by Steven Teref and Maja Teref (Zephyr Press)
Hackers by Aase Berg, translated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson (Black Ocean)
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio, translated from the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas (Ugly Duckling Presse)
The Odyssey by Homer, translated from the Greek by Emily Wilson (Norton)
Sonic Peace by Kiriu Minashita, translated from the Japanese by Spencer Thurlow and Eric Hyett (Phoneme Media)
Third-Millennium Heart by Ursula Andkjær Olsen, translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen (Action Books)

Compass by Mathias Énard, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell (New Directions)
Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata, translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich (New Directions)
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag, translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur (Penguin)
The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong (Graywolf)
Old Rendering Plant by Wolfgang Hilbig, translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole (Two Lines Press)
Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg, translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak (Transit Books)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 11:

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang (Norton, $30, 9780393064445) looks at the connection between celestial science and earthly warfare.

Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation by Ken Starr (Sentinel, $28, 9780525536130) is a political memoir.

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL by Jeff Pearlman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544454385) chronicles the defunct football league that lasted several seasons in the 1980s and suffered under the poor management of Donald Trump.

Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love by Michelle LeClair and Robin Gaby Fisher (Berkley, $27, 9781101991169) is the memoir of a former "poster girl for Scientology" who fell in love with a woman and left the church.

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger by Soraya Chemaly (Atria, $27, 9781501189555) advocates for anger in feminism.

The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 9780525483700) is the fourth mystery/thriller with FBI agent Jane Hawk.

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit by Amy Stewart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9781328736512) is the fourth Kopp Sisters mystery, which stars New Jersey's first female deputy sheriff.

Crudo: A Novel by Olivia Laing (Norton, $21, 9780393652727) follows a commitment-averse writer facing marriage.

Ordinary People: A Novel by Diana Evans (Liveright, $26.95, 9781631494819) follows two angsty couples in London.

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld (Scholastic, $18.99, 9781338151510) is a return to the bestselling young adult world of the Uglies.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden (Bloomsbury, $19.99, 9781547600762) is the young adult adaptation of their adult book, White Rage.

Simple Green Meals: 100+ Plant-powered Recipes to Thrive from the Inside Out by Jen Hansard (Rodale, $24.99, 9781635650099).

A Simple Favor, based on the novel by Darcey Bell, opens September 14. Anna Kendrick stars as a blogger investigating the disappearance of her best friend. A movie tie-in edition (Harper, $15.99, 9780062497789) is available.

Unbroken: Path to Redemption continues the true story of Olympian and World War II POW Louis Zamperini as told in Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. It opens September 14.

The Children Act, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, opens September 14. Emma Thompson stars as a judge who must rule on the case of a teenage boy refusing blood transfusions for religious reasons.

Bel Canto, based on the novel by Ann Patchett, opens September 14. Julianne Moore stars as an opera singer who gets caught in a hostage situation at a lavish party in South America. A tie-in edition (Harper, $16.99, 9780062891907) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


Meet Me at the Museum: A Novel by Anne Youngson (Flatiron, $23.99, 9781250295163). "This charming novel is told entirely in correspondence between Tina, a woman of a certain age in England who is questioning her place in the world after her best friend's death, and Kristian, a Danish museum curator who is adrift after the death of his wife. As their correspondence evolves and their friendship develops, they realize that the world may have more to offer than they initially thought. Meet Me at the Museum is sweet without being cloying, gentle without insulting the reader's intelligence, and a completely enjoyable read." --Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, Mich.

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year With the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift (Dey Street, $28.99, 9780062661395). "I was so impressed with this story of Tangier, an exploration of science, history, religion, and culture driven by emotionally salient commentary from people who live there today. I thought it was particularly interesting to learn that the community is conservative both religiously and politically, but their home is being swept away by rising sea levels thanks to climate change, which is usually a politically charged topic. It was also interesting to have insight into what is likely the United States' first group of 'climate refugees'--terms that are also politically charged. Thoughtfully, lovingly, and intelligently done. An important read!" --Chloe Groth, Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.


The Hidden Light of Northern Fires: A Novel by Daren Wang (Picador, $16, 9781250166029). "In The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, a town on the Underground Railroad secedes from the Union after it becomes fractured by the politics of the American Civil War. As a huge geek on the subject, I'm often skeptical of historical fiction relating to it. While Wang's tale benefits from being based on truth, that is a moot point. His well-developed, very real characters and masterful writing are all that's needed for an incredible debut. Though a novel of the home front, it is nonetheless a war novel focusing on how conflict brings out the best and worst in people. It is one of the best works of historical fiction on the Civil War that I've ever read, and perhaps even that exists." --Carl Kranz, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

For Ages 4 to 8

Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang (Random House, $17.99, 9780553537864). "When Jim is in a grumpy mood for no reason, his jungle friends offer their best advice. But putting on a smile and doing the things they suggest doesn't make him feel any better, so what's next? I am in LOVE with this story. Everyone has their grumpy days, and you know what? A grumpy day now and then is absolutely okay." --Hana Boxberger, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12

Nightbooks by J.A. White (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062560087). "Unlike his 'normal' sports-loving brother, Alex has always loved monsters and scary stories. His favorite movie? Night of the Living Dead. His favorite hobby? Writing spooky stories. When things at school push him to make a change--to act more 'normal'--things take a turn toward the unexpected. Because apartment 4E is not what it seems. Alex finds himself in the middle of a story, and a spooky one at that. Can he escape with the help of some new friends, or will he run out of stories first? Dark magic, fairy tales, and witches swirl together in a spellbinding new mystery from J.A. White." --Clarissa Murphy, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass.

For Teen Readers

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (Viking, $18.99, 9780425290217). "The Smoke Thieves is a brilliant opening salvo in a new trilogy. Featuring five very different characters whose stories weave together in unexpected ways, this book is a rapid-fire read full of pulse-pounding action. The world-building feels effortless as Sally Green creates a land filled with brutal kings, demons, and political machinations. I was not ready to leave this world at the end of the first book and will be waiting very impatiently for the sequel!" --Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Pulse

Pulse by Michael Harvey (Ecco, $27.99 hardcover, 400p., 9780062443038, October 23, 2018)

An Emmy and Academy Award nominee, Michael Harvey cut his crime fiction teeth with a half-dozen novels set in his adopted Chicago (e.g., The Fifth Floor and The Governor's Wife), but he can't quite shake his Boston roots. After the recent critically acclaimed Brighton, he returns to the city of his youth with another thriller alive with the haphazard streets of the Hub. With film rights already optioned, Pulse is a cinematic story of two young parentless brothers and two police detectives--one an Irish Catholic Southie and the other a 250-pound African American raised in a Roxbury tenement. Set in the '70s, Pulse is partly a whodunnit, partly an historical coming-of-age story, partly gritty noir and partly quantum physics sci-fi. As a film, it might look something like a Good Will Hunting/Boondock Saints/Surrogates farrago--only more tightly wound and carefully constructed.
Sixteen-year-old Daniel Fitzsimmons is a flaky Boston Latin student suffering from PTSD after witnessing the death of his mother in a car wreck when he was eight. He worships his older brother, Harry, who is gliding through Harvard, acing his classes and leading the football team. With an unknown absent father, they've got each other's backs--until Harry joins his teammates for a traditional end-of-season night in strip joints and brothels. In a deserted alley, Harry is stabbed to death and found by Daniel after a premonition draws him to the crime scene. Detectives Tommy Dillon and Barkley Jones catch the gruesome, headline case. When a sketchy street photographer snaps close-ups of the murder and the perpetrator from his seedy third-floor flat, it looks like an easy case-closed investigation. Until it isn't.
Harvey fills his story with juicy historical tidbits like '70s sports icons Carl Yastrzemski, "Hondo" Havlicek and Bobby Orr. The soundtrack echoes with Aerosmith, Zeppelin and Gladys Knight. Snaking through it is a mysticism as much Irish fairy lore as pseudo-scientific "cosmic glue... a shifting, eternal, breathtaking pulse of light and dark, good and evil, birth and decay and birth again." Fenway, Kenmore Square, Charlestown, Roxbury--the sights, sounds and smells of Boston create a memorable stage. They're all here: the schoolyard bullies, sleazy Combat Zone hookers, bent cops and the stereotypical Southie ("the cousin who drank all the beer at your wedding, threw up in the punch bowl, and tried to f*ck your sister for good measure").
Like a good crime novel, Pulse is driven by a trail of clues and coincidences that paint a picture of cause and effect. The ghosts, nightmares and visions that motivate and trouble its characters take a back seat to a solid good guys/bad guys tale set in the streets of an old city opening to a new world. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.
Shelf Talker: Michael Harvey's second crime novel set in 1970s Boston is rich in the ambience of a city facing problems of race, crime, technology and neighborhood loyalty.

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