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At the Library: New historical fiction at the Captiva Memorial Library

By Staff | Aug 5, 2015

“The Blue and the Grey,”

by M.J. Trow

“Introducing 19th-century private investigators Matthew Grand and James Batchelor in the first of a brand-new historical mystery series. April, 1865. Having been an eye witness to the assassination of President Lincoln, Matthew Grand, a former captain of the 3rd Cavalry of the Potomac, has come to London on an undercover assignment to hunt down the last of the assassin’s co-conspirators. Ambitious young journalist Jim Batchelor has been charged with writing a feature article on the visiting American, with the aim of getting the inside story on the assassination. Both men are distracted from their missions by the discovery of a body behind the Haymarket Theatre in London’s Soho district. It’s the latest in a series of grisly garrottings by a killer known as the Haymarket Strangler. As Grand and Batchelor team up to pursue their investigations through the dark underbelly of Victorian London, it becomes clear that there may be a disturbing connection between the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Haymarket Strangler.” *

“The Angel Court Affair,”

by Anne Perry

“Perry’s gripping new Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novel invites us back to Victorian London, where greed and ambition never sleep, and passion sometimes runs riot. As the 19th century draws to a close, most of Europe is in political turmoil, and terrorist threats loom large across the continent. Adding to this unrest is the controversial Sofia Delacruz, who has come to London from Spain to preach a revolutionary gospel of love and forgiveness that many consider blasphemous. Thomas Pitt, commander of Special Branch, is charged with protecting Sofia-and shielding Her Majesty’s government from any embarrassment that this woman, as beautiful as she is charismatic, might cause. When Sofia suddenly vanishes and two of her female disciples are gruesomely murdered, Pitt is challenged as never before. Is Sofia’s cousin, wealthy banker Barton Hall, somehow involved? And why has handsome cricket star Dalton Teague insinuated himself into Pitt’s investigation? Fearful that this sensational crime may trigger an international incident, Pitt welcomes the help of three allies: his clever wife, Charlotte; her great-aunt, Lady Vespasia; and Victor Narraway, Pitt’s friend and former commander at Special Branch. From the narrow streets of Toledo and a lonely monastery high in the hills of Spain, to the halls and wharves of London, Pitt and his friends race against time in their desperate bid to catch a murderer. Anne Perry is the acknowledged mistress of Victorian intrigue. No one else can match her period flavor, her all-too-human characters, or her haunting truths, which speak so clearly to our own time. The Angel Court Affair may be the best of all the beloved Thomas Pitt novels.” *

“The Iris Fan: a Novel

of Feudal Japan,”

by Laura Joh Rowland

“Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichiro has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano’s dedication to the Way of the Warrior – the samurai code of honor – is undiminished. Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun’s heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun’s permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself. Riveting and richly imagined, with a magnificent sense of time and place, The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland’s brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan.” *

“A Deadly Measure

of Brimstone,”

by Catriona McPherson

“plucky and laugh-out-loud-funny heroine Dandy Gilverand the whole Gilver clan travel to a spa town for a weekend of relaxation which is quickly interrupted by a slew of mysterious – and deadly -events.

The men of the Gilver family have come down, between them, with influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia and pleurisy. The family repairs to the town of Moffat, there to submit to the galvanic wraps and cold salt rubs of the splendid Laidlaw Hydropathic Hotel. But all is not well at the Hydro, and the secret of the lady who arrived, but never left cannot be kept for long. And what of those drifting shapes in the Turkish bath? Just steam shifting in the air? Probably. But in this town the dead can be as much trouble as the living.” *

“Skylight,”

by Jose Saramago

“A previously unpublished novel by a literary master, ‘Skylight’ tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded apartment building in 1940s Lisbon. Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to the surface. Carmen left Galicia to marry humble Emilio, but hates Lisbon and longs for her first love, Manolo. Lidia used to work the streets, but now she’s kept by Paulo, a wealthy man with a wandering eye. These are just some of the characters in this early work, completed by Saramago in 1953, but never published until now. With his characteristic compassion, depth, and wit, Saramago shows us the quiet contentment of a happy family and the infectious poison of an unhappy one. We see his characters’ most intimate moments as well as the casual encounters particular to neighbors living in close proximity. ‘Skylight’ is a portrait of ordinary people, painted by a master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardships of the modern world.” *

“Into the Savage Country,”

by Shannon Burke

“This breathtaking adventure set in the American West of the 1820s is at once a tale of complex friendships, a love story, and a panoramic retelling of a crucial moment in American history. When the young William Wyeth leaves St. Louis for a fur-trapping expedition, he nearly loses his life and quickly discovers the depth of loyalty among the men who must depend on one another to survive. While convalescing, he falls in love with proud Alene, a young widow who may or may not wait for him. And on a wildly risky expedition into Crow territory, Wyeth finds himself unwittingly at the center of a deadly boundary dispute among Native American tribes, the British government, and American trapping brigades. A classic adventure told with great suspense and literary flair, Into the Savage Country illuminates the ways in which extreme circumstances expose the truth about the natures of individual men and the surprising mechanics of their bravery, loyalty, and friendship.” *

“She Weeps Each

Time You’re Born,”

by Quan Barry

“Quan Barry’s luminous fiction debut brings us the tumultuous history of modern Vietnam as experienced by a young girl born under mysterious circumstances a few years before the country’s reunification, a child gifted with the otherworldly ability to hear the voices of the dead. At the peak of the war in Vietnam, a baby girl is born along the Song Ma River on the night of the full moon. This is Rabbit, who will journey away from her destroyed village with a makeshift family thrown together by war. Here is a Vietnam we’ve never encountered before: through Rabbit’s inexplicable, but radiant intuition, we are privy to an intimate version of history, from the days of French Indochina and the World War II rubber plantations through the chaos of postwar reunification. With its use of magical realism-Rabbit’s ability to “hear” the dead-the novel reconstructs a turbulent historical period through a painterly human lens. This is the moving story of one woman’s struggle to unearth the true history of Vietnam while simultaneously carving out a place for herself within it.” *

* Book jacket/publisher description

-Senior Librarian Ann Bradley is branch manager Captiva Memorial Library.