Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 30, 2022


Other Press (NY): Playing Under the Piano: From Downton to Darkest Peru by Hugh Bonneville

Shadow Mountain: Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together by Tara Teaspoon

Berkley Books: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

MIT Press: Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger

Spiegel & Grau: Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West by Katie Hickman

Austin Macauley: Lasseter's Truth by John Somerset

St. Martin's Press: Weyward by Emilia Hart

News

East End Books Ptown Hosting Boston Pop-up, Opening Seaport Store

On August 9, East End Books Ptown is hosting a pop-up book event in the Seaport neighborhood in Boston, Mass., in a space that will later this year become the permanent home of a new East End Books location called East End Books Boston Seaport.

The pop-up event in August will feature James Kirchick, author of Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington in conversation with former Congressman Barney Frank, one of the country's first out members of Congress and gay and civil rights activist. The event will be held in a retail space at 300 Pier 4 Boulevard and will feature food and drinks from the adjacent restaurant Woods Hill Pier 4. Readers will be able to attend in-person or virtually.

Future home of East End Books Boston Seaport.

Store owner Jeff Peters reported that the store should be open in time for the holiday season, with construction slated to begin "in earnest" after Labor Day. The new bookstore will be much larger than the original location in Provincetown and will feature a wine and tapas bar and gourmet market run in partnership with Woods Hill Pier 4. The retail space is owned by Kristin Canty, the owner of Woods Hill Pier 4 and a good friend of Peters.

"The whole space will be free-flowing," Peters said, with no walls separating the bookstore, bar and market, though there will be some see-through shelves to define the space, and an interior door will lead into Woods Hill Pier 4. The Seaport store will carry an eclectic selection of books similar to the Provincetown store's inventory in style but wider in scope, given the additional space. Peters added that there will be "more Boston-based books as well."

For the wine and tapas bar, Woods Hill Pier 4 will supply the food, while Peters is investing in three Enomatic wine dispensers. The dispensers, which are made in Italy, are self-serve and can preserve open bottles for three months. Peters plans to carry a selection of reds, whites and higher-end wines, and, thanks to the machines, opening an expensive bottle won't be a financial risk. The space "will be great for book clubs," he said.

The shop will also have a separate license for selling individual bottles of wine, and Peters is looking to serve coffee from Kohi Coffee Company, based in Provincetown, and teas from the Captain's Daughter, also based in Provincetown.

L.-r.: Architect David McMahon; Kristin Canty, Woods Hill Pier 4; bookstore owner Jeff Peters; Shirin Tahsili, McMahon Architects.

Peters and Canty plan to host "lots of different programming" in the space. There will either be a large TV or projector screen to use for author talks and book-to-movie events, and there will be a shared table that chefs, cookbook authors and wine stewards will be able to use for a variety of demonstrations. On weekends, the gourmet market will host a farmer's market, and Peters looks forward to holding outdoor events when the weather allows, as the bookstore will be right on Boston Harbor.

He said he is "thrilled" to be partnering with Canty, who is a documentary filmmaker as well as restaurateur. Her work as a documentarian focuses on subjects like food insecurity, and Peters said they share a vision and progressive values.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity," he remarked. He looks forward to joining the Boston bookselling community and said he feels a city "can never have too many bookstores."--Alex Mutter


CamCat Publishing: The Darker the Skies (Earth United) by Bryan Prosek


Macmillan Closure Affects U.K., Too; Not Yet Noticeable to Most Consumers

The Saturday "security incident" that has closed Macmillan Publishers this week and kept it from taking orders involved "the encryption of certain files" on the company's network, as indicated in updated statements. As a result, Macmillan "immediately took systems offline" to prevent further damage to its network.

In addition, according to the Bookseller, the problem has also affected Macmillan in the U.K.: Pan Macmillan has taken its systems offline. Pan Macmillan indicated that currently the best way to reach it is via several gmail accounts or phone.

While Macmillan works to restore its operations, readers should not notice the problems in the short term, several U.S. retailers and wholesalers told the Wall Street Journal. For one, Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt said that the problems would have to continue for several weeks to affect readers, adding, "I don't think there will be lost sales unless something cataclysmic has happened."

Readerlink CEO Dennis Abboud said that the mass merchandiser supplier wouldn't lose sales for another week or two. "After that, it gets dicey," he said.

Ingram's Phil Ollila said the company is meeting demand for Macmillan titles from retailers. "Our role is to fill in the holes in the market," he said.

Arsen Kashkashian, general manager of the Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, Colo., pointed out that July is a relatively quiet month for many publishers, saying, "If this happened in May or September, it would be much worse."


Barefoot Books: Save 10%


Detroit's 27th Letter Books Fundraising After Cyberscam

27th Letter Books, Detroit, Mich., which debuted as a pop-up shop and online store before opening in a permanent space last summer, has launched a $35,000 GoFundMe campaign due to the effects of a recent cyber scam. 

"Without community support, 27th Letter Books is facing the devastating possibility of immediate closure," co-owners Jazmine Cooper, Erin Pineda, Jake Spease and Drew Pineda noted on the GoFundMe page. "Since starting as a pop-up in June of 2019, our business has overcome numerous challenges with resilience. Our biggest dream is to keep serving you--our community--with excellent book recommendations and a creative gathering space, but we are in a precarious position....

"This year our store fell victim to an aggressive cyber scam leaving us to directly cover over $35,000 in losses. Law enforcement has expressed our chances of recovering any funds via a criminal investigation are extremely low. Furthermore, our business insurance will not cover any of this extraordinary loss.
 
"Since uncovering this fraud, we have re-evaluated and improved our procedures to prevent further victimization, but without community support, we are facing the devastating possibility of immediate closure." As of this morning, the campaign had raised more than $25,000.


Candlewick Press (MA): The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman


S&S Launches Banned Books Campaign for Indies

In response to the ongoing wave of book bans and challenges sweeping the U.S., Simon & Schuster has launched a promotion exclusive to independent bookstores to "assist booksellers on the front lines of book bans across the country."

Through this campaign, indies will receive "Read banned books!" merchandising kits featuring material to use both in-store and online, and there will be promotional terms and discounts for titles from S&S and distributed clients that have faced bans and challenges, including Maia Kobabe's Gender Queer.

In recent months the list of S&S titles facing bans and challenges has grown by 46%, and other affected titles include classics such as Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, as well as plenty of children's and YA titles. Among those are Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely's All American Boys, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and many more.

The campaign will run from the end of June to until the end of August, in advance of Banned Book Week (September 18-24). Indies can request more information about the campaign here.

---

In more S&S news, the publisher is making two books--High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out by Amanda Ripley, and Let's Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale--available for free in e-book and audiobook format for one month.

"Both of these books are about how we communicate with each other--how we get past our disagreements and have better, more productive and more satisfying conversations," said S&S president and CEO Jonathan Karp. "According to the latest polling, a majority of Americans recognize that we are divided, and that the divisions seem to be growing wider and more acrimonious. These books both offer insights into mediation, understanding, and maybe even reconciliation."

The e-books are available for free through Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon and other sites. The offer ends July 31.


Parallax Press: Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems by Thich Nhat Hanh


Buzz Books Romance Editors Panel Slated for July 13

Publishers Lunch and the American Booksellers Association are hosting a virtual Buzz Books Romance Editors Panel at 6 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, July 13. 

Authors Jasmine Guillory (Drunk on Love, Berkley), Kennedy Ryan (Before I Let Go, Forever), Amber D. Samuel (The Many Dates of Indigo, W by Wattpad Books), Kate Clayborn (Georgie, All Along) and Kylie Scott (End of Story, Graydon House) will discuss their upcoming books with their respective editors.

Registration is free, and booksellers can find excerpts of the featured titles here.


Obituary Note: Dallas Manderson 

Dallas Manderson, former sales director at Arlington Books, Century Hutchinson, Random Century and Orion Publishing Group, has died, the Bookseller reported. He was 66. Manderson was also a trustee of the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Malcolm Edwards, who was deputy CEO at Orion Publishing Group until 2015, paid tribute to "his kindness, first and foremost, his care for his staff and his polite implacability as a negotiator, which was greatly appreciated by colleagues when fighting off an attempt to change their pension terms." Orion co-founder Anthony Cheetham called him "the very acme of the perfect sales director."

Author Ian Rankin said Manderson defined a "long and lovely era in English publishing," describing his "steel-trap of a mind wrapped in layers of winning eccentricity. His sales conference talks became the stuff of legend, but away from the limelight he was charming, insightful and inspiring, always professional yet always a friend. He will be missed by all who knew him."

Jo Carpenter, former group key account director at Orion Publishing Group, said he was "a hugely charismatic and brilliant sales director uniquely driven by looking after staff, authors and books as much as he was by results."

Noting that she and Manderson were in their early 20s when "a quirk of fate" led to them both working for Desmond Elliott at Arlington Books in 1977, Christine Berry said "Dallas has been the most wonderful colleague and beloved friend. Like so many others whose lives he has touched, I have had the benefit of his care and compassion, enjoyed his wonderful company and seen first-hand the extraordinary qualities that made Dallas such an exceptional individual."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Survivalists
by Kashana Cauley
GLOW: Soft Skull: The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

Aretha is a young Black lawyer whose single-minded dream of corporate success is challenged when she finds herself falling for Aaron, a doomsday prepper and illegal gun-stockpiler. While one dream unravels for her, an entirely new world unfurls--with darkly humorous explorations of race, privilege and friendship. With The Survivalists, Kashana Cauley, a former The Daily Show writer, makes her sparkling literary debut. Mensah Demary, editor-in-chief at Soft Skull, says there was "absolute, full-throated support and excitement from the minute the acquisition was announced internally," because of Cauley's observant, edgy writing and the important questions she raises about how to survive in 21st-century America as a Black woman. With a sharp sense of humor and insightful storytelling, Kashana Cauley has written a bold novel that will entertain and captivate. --Grace Rajendran

(Soft Skull, $27 hardcover, 9781593767273, January 10, 2023)

CLICK TO ENTER


#ShelfGLOW
Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Notes

Happy 5th Anniversary, Zenith Bookstore!

Congratulations to Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, Minn., which is turning five years old tomorrow, July 1. Co-owners Angel and Bob Dobrow and their team will celebrate with an outdoor party in the afternoon, featuring chalk art, a prize wheel, live music, a crafts table and a bookish yoga class. A local food truck called the Rambler will be on hand, and customers who wear a Zenith T-shirt or bring a Zenith tote bag will receive 10% off their purchases.

The bookstore is also raffling a signed first-edition copy of Maya Angelou's Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. Raffle tickets have been on sale for $5 each since the beginning of the month, and the store will announce the winner during tomorrow's celebration. All proceeds will go to PAVSA, Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault. Additionally, Zenith will be donating 10% of all sales on Friday to PAVSA.

"Words cannot express our gratitude for how you, and the people of Duluth, have supported us these past years," the Dobrows wrote in a letter to customers. They've put together a video of "5 Years of Memories" that can be viewed here. The event is free and open to the public.


Bookshop Wedding: A Novel Idea on Passyunk 

"This past weekend we got to host our first wedding at the bookstore!" A Novel Idea on Passyunk, Philadelphia, Pa., posted on Facebook. "We were so touched that Danielle and Sydney wanted to get married in the shop and are so honored we got to be a part of their special day. Congratulations, Danielle and Sydney!"


Ingram Academic to Distribute Boydell & Brewer

Effective next month, Ingram Academic Services will provide sales and distribution for Boydell & Brewer in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Formed by the merger of Boydell Press and D.S. Brewer, Boydell & Brewer is employee-owned and includes the following imprints: University of Rochester Press, Camden House, James Currey and Tamesis. Medieval studies was originally the core of the list, but the company's focus has expanded to include all periods of history and the wider humanities, including music, African, Hispanic and Germanic studies. Boydell & Brewer, which has offices in the U.K. and Rochester, N.Y., publishes more than 200 titles a year and distributes for some affiliated publishers/imprints and societies.


Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Mandy Chahal has been promoted to marketing manager, Poisoned Pen Press.

Caitlin Hayden has joined the company as impact marketing summer intern.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Zibby Owens on Good Morning America

Tomorrow:
Live with Kelly and Ryan: Janelle Monáe, author of The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer (Harper Voyager, $28.99, 9780063070875).

Good Morning America: Zibby Owens, author of Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature (Little A, $24.95, 9781542036993).

The Talk: Jet Tila, author of 101 Thai Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: The Essential Recipes, Techniques and Ingredients of Thailand (Page Street Publishing, $21.99, 9781645673668).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Terry Crews, author of Tough: My Journey to True Power (Portfolio, $27, 9780593329801).


This Weekend on Book TV: Live In-Depth with Carol Anderson

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, July 2
9:10 a.m. Michael Meyer, author of Benjamin Franklin's Last Bet: The Favorite Founder's Divisive Death, Enduring Afterlife, and Blueprint for American Prosperity (Mariner, $28.99, 9781328568892). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:10 p.m.)

4:55 p.m. Bruce A. Ragsdale, author of Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery (Belknap Press, $29.95, 9780674246386), receives the 2022 George Washington Book Prize, "awarded to the year's best works on the nation's founding era." (Re-airs Sunday at 4:55 a.m.)

Sunday, July 3
8 a.m. Douglas Murray, author of The War on the West (Broadside, $27.99, 9780063162020), and Yoram Hazony, author of Conservatism: A Rediscovery (Regnery, $29.99, 9781684511099). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Carol Anderson, author of The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635574258), and White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781632864130). (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

4 p.m. Judge Victoria Pratt, author of The Power of Dignity: How Transforming Justice Can Heal Our Communities (Seal Press, $30, 9781541674837). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

5:30 p.m. Evaggelos Vallianatos, author of The Antikythera Mechanism: The Story Behind the Genius of the Greek Computer and its Demise (‎Universal Publishers, $29.95, 9781627343589). (Re-airs Monday at 5:30 a.m.)



Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Poetry Shortlists

Finalists have been named for the Forward Prizes for Poetry, which are awarded in three categories: the £10,000 (about $12,265) Forward Prize for Best Collection, the £5,000 (about $6,135) Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, and the £1,000 (about $1,225) Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. The winners will be announced November 28. This year's book finalists are:

Best collection
Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar
Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph 
Cain Named the Animal by Shane McCrae 
All the Men I Never Married by Kim Moore 
The Illustrated Woman by Helen Mort 

First collection
Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd 
English Summer by Holly Hopkins 
Some Integrity by Padraig Regan
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire 
Amnion by Stephanie Sy-Quia


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 5:

The Earthspinner: A Novel by Anuradha Roy (HarperVia, $25.99, 9780063220683) follows a potter mystically inspired to create a terracotta horse.

Fellowship Point: A Novel by Alice Elliott Dark (Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books, $28.99, 9781982131814) tracks a friendship between two women over the course of the 20th century.

Rising Tiger by Brad Thor (Atria/Emily Bestler, $28.99, 9781982182151) is the 21st Scot Harvath thriller.

Original Sins: A Memoir by Matt Rowland Hill (Hanover Square Press, $27.99, 9781335469571) explores a pastor's son's heroin addiction.

Imagine a City: A Pilot's Journey Across the Urban World by Mark Vanhoenacker (Knopf, $30, 9780525657507) is a commercial airline pilot's appreciation of cities around the world.

The Falling: A Brightest Stars Novel by Anna Todd (Frayed Pages x Wattpad Books, $26.99, 9781990259807) begins a military romance trilogy.

Honey and Spice: A Novel by Bolu Babalola (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063141483) is a romance starring a young Black British woman.

The Pallbearers Club: A Novel by Paul Tremblay (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063069916) follows a group of volunteer pallbearers at poorly attended funerals.

What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri (Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, 9781250773500) is a YA Wuthering Heights "remix."

Bright by Brigit Young (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 9781250822116) is a middle-grade novel about a student who tries to pass the eighth grade by joining their school's quiz team.

Paperbacks:
Bloodless Boy by Robert Lloyd (Melville House, $17.99, 9781612199511).

Twilight in Hazard: An Appalachian Reckoning by Alan Maimon (Melville House, $17.99, 9781612199979).

First Born: A Novel by Will Dean (Atria/Emily Bestler, $16.99, 9781982156527).

Build Your House Around My Body: A Novel by Violet Kupersmith (Random House, $18.99, 9780812983487).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
Three: A Novel by Valérie Perrin, trans. by Hildegarde Serle (Europa Editions, $28, 9781609457556). "Spectacular! Perrin has written a masterpiece of friendship, love, loss and life, weaving the lives of three friends--Adrien, Etienne, and Nina--into a magnificent novel. There are no words to really describe; it's a must read! Love it!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting: A Novel by Clare Pooley (Pamela Dorman, $27, 9781984878649). "Everyone knows that you keep to yourself on a train. But Iona draws people like moths to a flame; suddenly she has the interest of her entire train car. A nice pocket of reality with vivid characters that you'll root for and want to take home." --Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, Ga.

Paperback
Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So (Ecco, $18.99, 9780063049895). "These stories of the members of a compact Cambodian-American community, from the refugees to the business owners to the gay teenagers, seamlessly balance humor with hardships." --Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books, Burlington, Vt.

For Ages 4 to 7
Chickadee: Criminal Mastermind by Monica Silvie, illus. by Elina Ellis (Kids Can Press, $18.99, 9781525303388). "Bird lovers, you need this picture book! I adored the chickadee narrating this story, and could imagine my own backyard chickadees as masterminds who steal my blueberries! This picture book offers plenty of fun for readers of all ages." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

For Ages 8 to 12
The Lost Ryū by Emi Watanabe Cohen (Levine Querido, $17.99, 9781646141326). "The Lost Ryū is a gem of a debut; a lovely tale of family and secrets, trauma and hope. The emotions soar like the dragon flying over his grandfather in Kohei's treasured memory." --Suzi Hough, Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo (Viking Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780593403396). "When she and her cousin are the subjects of a cruel viral meme, TJ decides to prove that a woman's body hair (or lack thereof) doesn't impact her worth. An engrossing, powerful story exploring body positivity, Deo's debut will stick with you." --Matilda McNeely, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: A Taste of Gold and Iron

Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland (Tordotcom, $27.99 hardcover, 512p., 9781250800381, August 30, 2022)

Alexandra Rowland (A Conspiracy of Truths) strikes the perfect balance of political intrigue and romance in A Taste of Gold and Iron, a lush, Ottoman-inspired fantasy with sweeping emotions and prose worth savoring.

Excited about the birth of his niece, Prince Kadou tries to ignore the casual cruelties of his niece's body-father, Siranos. But when an altercation between his guards and Siranos's turns deadly, the sultan of Arasht--Kadou's older sister--strips both men of some of their privileges and publicly reprimands them. As part of his punishment, Zeliha assigns Evemer to be Kadou's primary kahya. More than a bodyguard, a kahya is a highly trained professional in domestic service to the royal family. In most cases, promotion to the core guard would be a great honor, but Evemer can't help but resent the "careless-flighty-negligent" prince responsible for the unnecessary deaths of two other kahyalar.

Evemer's judgments fade to compassion as he observes Kadou's self-sacrificing kindness and realizes some of the behaviors he considered self-indulgent are actually the aftermath of panic attacks. Kadou is his own harshest critic, calling his anxiety and panic disorder "cowardice" and despairing that he'll never be free of it. Rowland writes Kadou's mental illness and the reactions of those around him with nuance, neither ignoring the impacts of mental illness on Kadou's interactions nor using it as shorthand for characterization.

A counterfeiting plot, complete with drunken information gathering, political maneuvering and assassination attempts, pushes the two men together. Their close proximity and domestic relationship leads to gorgeously intimate scenes as the two get to know each other. In one, Evemer finds himself internally justifying a second wash of Kadou's hair just so he can feel it sliding between his fingers a bit longer. And when Kadou offers to return the service, Kadou's discomfort with his position of power and his longing for connection are laid bare.

Rowland's Arasht is queernormative, with central characters of multiple genders and a social structure that seems mostly free of gendered expectations of dress, behavior and occupation. Class is instead the primary social divisor and while Kadou cannot change his status, he is acutely aware of his responsibility to everyone living in the sultanate.

A Taste of Gold and Iron is a beautiful, compelling navigation of power and consent, loyalty and love, trust and hope. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: This Ottoman-inspired fantasy novel is an entrancing mix of queer romance and political intrigue, with emotionally resonant prose and an empathetic depiction of panic disorder.


Deeper Understanding

Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy: Highlighting Backlist Reading

Summer is horse racing season, and whether you went once as a kid with your Uncle Jack or are a regular at Saratoga, everyone has at least one racing story to tell. Dick Francis gave us a bunch and summer is the best time to read them.

Francis was one of the greatest thriller writers of all time. Perhaps the most important thing about him for booksellers is how prolific the franchise was. It was the worst-kept secret in bookselling that he and his wife, Mary, wrote the books together, and now his son Felix has taken over the family business. So if you introduce a reader to Francis and they love him, they can buy and buy. I bought my first Dick Francis at a little stand in a beach hotel gift shop and soon I was renting a car and driving to the nearest independent bookstore to get a beach bag full.

The racecourse was the backdrop for Francis's intelligent characters and clever mysteries. The detailed geometry of the English racecourse reads like armchair travel. And his first paragraphs are always gripping. Here's an example from Straight: "I inherited my brother's life. Inherited his desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress. I inherited my brother's life, and it nearly killed me." Or, from Hot Money: "I intensely disliked my father's fifth wife, but not to the point of murder."

Francis was a champion steeplechase jockey who rode for Queen Elizabeth, though he takes readers on tours of industries and hobbies unrelated to horses. In Flying Finish it was airplanes (which was the catalyst for my own pilot lessons), wine in Proof and gemstones in Straight. He wrote 42 crime novels and Sid Haley was his most famous recurring character. Sid was a jockey; an injury ended his horseracing career and he launched one as a crafty private detective. Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief, Under Orders and one follow-up book by Felix Francis, Refusal, all feature the brilliant and tough hero. The first three titles are the only three consecutive books in a series that have been nominated for an Edgar.  

My favorites are still the early ones: Odds Against, For Kicks, Forfeit and The Danger. They all share gorgeous racehorse countryside, intelligent plots, crisscrossing motives and pacing that will make your heart race. Dick Francis is blissfully satisfying on a hot summer day. --Ellen Stimson


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