For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has chopped a livelihood out of the redwood forest along California’s rugged coast. Now, his wife Colleen is wondering if the herbicides used by the logging company are causing all of the miscarriages in their community—hers included. Is this even a safe place to raise their young son Chub? As mudslides take out clear-cut hillsides and salmon vanish from creeks, her search for answers threatens to unravel not just Rich’s livelihood, but their marriage too, dividing a town that lives and dies on timber along the way. Told from the perspectives of Rich, Colleen, and Chub, in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, this intimate, compassionate portrait of a community clinging to a vanishing way of life amid the perils of environmental degradation makes Damnation Spring an essential novel for our time.
Palace of Treason
Captain Dominika Egorova of the Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) has returned from the West to Moscow. She despises the men she serves, the oligarchs, and crooks, and thugs of Putin’s Russia. What no one knows is that Dominika is working for the CIA as Washington’s most sensitive penetration of SVR and the Kremlin. As she expertly dodges exposure, Dominika deals with a murderously psychotic boss; survives an Iranian assassination attempt; escapes a counterintelligence ambush; rescues an arrested agent and exfiltrates him out of Russia; and has a chilling midnight conversation in her nightgown with President Putin. Complicating these risks is the fact that Dominika is in love with her CIA handler, Nate Nash, and their lust is as dangerous as committing espionage in Moscow. And when a mole in the SVR finds Dominika’s name on a restricted list of sources, it is a virtual death sentence… Just as fast-paced, heart-pounding, and action-packed as Red Sparrow, Jason Matthews’s second novel confirms he is “an insider’s insider…and a masterful storyteller” (Vince Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author).
War of the Encyclopaedists
On a summer night, in the arty enclave of Capitol Hill, Seattle, best friends Mickey Montauk and Halifax Corderoy throw one last blowout party before their lives part ways. At twenty-three, they had planned to move together to Boston for graduate school, but global events have intervened: Montauk has just learned that his National Guard unit will deploy to Baghdad at the end of the summer. In the confusion of this altered future, Corderoy is faced with a moral dilemma: his girlfriend Mani has just been evicted and he must decide whether or not to abandon her when she needs him most. He turns to Montauk for help. His decision that night, and its harrowing outcome, sets in motion a year that will transform all three of them. Months later, Corderoy and Montauk grapple with their new identities as each deals with his own muted disappointment. In Boston, Corderoy finds himself unable to play the game of intellectual one-upmanship with the ease and grace of his new roommate Tricia, a Harvard graduate student and budding human rights activist. Half a world away, in Baghdad, Montauk struggles to lead his platoon safely through an increasingly violent and irrational war. As their lives move further away from their shared dream, Corderoy and Montauk keep in touch with one another by editing a Wikipedia article about themselves: smart and funny updates that morph and deepen throughout the year, culminating in a document that is both devastatingly tragic and profoundly poetic. Fast-moving and compulsively readable, War of the Encyclopaedists beats with the energetic pulse of idealistic youth on the threshold of adult reality. “A wise and wise-assed first novel…with sweep and heart and humor” (Mary Karr, author of Liar’s Club and Lit) it is the vital, urgent, and utterly absorbing lament of a new generation searching for meaning and hope in a fractured world.
The Children’s Crusade
Bill Blair finds the land by accident, three wooded acres in a rustic community south of San Francisco. The year is 1954, long before anyone will call this area Silicon Valley. Struck by a vision of the family he has yet to create, Bill buys the property on a whim. In Penny Greenway he finds a suitable wife, a woman whose yearning attitude toward life seems compelling and answerable, and they marry and have four children. Yet Penny is a mercurial housewife, at a time when women chafed at the conventions imposed on them. She finds salvation in art, but the cost is high. Thirty years later, the three oldest Blair children, adults now and still living near the family home, are disrupted by the return of the youngest, whose sudden presence and all-too-familiar troubles force a reckoning with who they are, separately and together, and set off a struggle over the family’s future. One by one, the siblings take turns telling the story—Robert, a doctor like their father; Rebecca, a psychiatrist; Ryan, a schoolteacher; and James, the malcontent, the problem child, the only one who hasn’t settled down—their narratives interwoven with portraits of the family at crucial points in their history. Reviewers have praised Ann Packer’s “brilliant ear for character” (The New York Times Book Review), her “naturalist’s vigilance for detail, so that her characters seem observed rather than invented” (The New Yorker), and the “utterly lifelike quality of her book’s everyday detail” (The New York Times). Her talents are on dazzling display in The Children’s Crusade, an extraordinary study in character, a rare and wise examination of the legacy of early life on adult children attempting to create successful families and identities of their own. This is Ann Packer’s most deeply affecting book yet.
The Hand That Feeds You
From celebrated authors Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment writing as A.J. Rich, a smart, thrilling, sexy, and emotionally riveting novel of psychological suspense about an accomplished woman involved with a man who proves to be an imposter. Morgan Prager, at age thirty, is completing her thesis on victim psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. She is newly engaged to Bennett, a seductive but possessive and secretive man. She returns from class one day to find Bennett mauled to death, and her dogs—a Great Pyrenees and two pit bulls she has rescued—covered in blood. Bewildered and devastated that her dogs could have committed such violence, she worries that she might suffer from one of the syndromes she studies: pathological altruism, when selfless acts do more damage than good. When Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s hideous death, she discovers he was not the man he said he was. Everything he has told her—where he was born, where he lives and works—was a lie. In fact, he has several fiancées, and fits the clinical definition of a sociopath. And then, one by one, these other women are murdered. Suddenly Morgan’s research into Bennett takes on the urgency of survival: to stay alive, she must find out who is killing the women Bennett was closest to. Unsettling and highly suspenseful, this is a brilliant collaboration between two outstanding writers.
The Light Between Oceans
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the Western coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one still birth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully-written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their north star in a world where there is no right answer.