Mystery

NWPR Books
3:03 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

After The California Downpour, 'The Drought' Offers Some Dry Reading

J.G. Ballard didn't exactly predict California's current drought in his 1964 novel The Burning World (later renamed The Drought). But like so many of his books, it does carry eerie hints about humanity's accelerating race to stay ahead of nature.

The Burning World is part of a series of dystopian science-fiction novels that Ballard wrote in the 1960s before he became famous for works like Crash and Empire of the Sun.

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NWPR Books
7:03 am
Sat October 25, 2014

'Beautiful You' Makes Sex And Death Boring

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Doubleday

At first, I wanted to write this review of Chuck Palahniuk's new book, Beautiful You, as a letter. A lament, really, from a former fan and dedicated Palahniuk loyalist to the author who brought Fight Club to the page like he was writing in fire. Because I am a man, and because I was once a younger man, I loved Fight Club for its apocalyptic depiction of the wasteland of modern masculinity and its viciously smart skewering of consumer and service culture. I read Choke and liked it. Less than Fight Club, but still. Read Lullaby, too.

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NWPR Books
2:32 am
Sun October 19, 2014

Amid The Chaos Of Debt Collection, 'Bad Paper' Offers A Riveting Roadmap

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Outside a corner storefront in Buffalo, six men tumble from a parked Mercedes. Most of them are ex-cons, some of them are armed and one of them — the polygamist — is packing his machete, to be ready, in his words, "when I run out of bullets." Not one of them weighs less than 240 pounds, and they're all keyed up for a confrontation with a suspected crook — which, as it turns out, goes down in a small storage closet. (Don't worry: No one gets injured.)

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NWPR Books
10:43 am
Tue September 30, 2014

In A Desolate Montana, 'The Ploughmen' Unearths Dark Truths

Valentine Millimaki, a sheriff's deputy in central Montana, is the officer who's called upon whenever someone goes missing. In the past, he has found people either safe or clinging to life, if barely. But for over a year, he's only found corpses, dead of exposure or suicide or murder. "Valentine Millimaki did not bring back angels," writes novelist Kim Zupan in The Ploughmen, "No, I did not, he thought. Souls did not aspire on his watch to safety or heaven but came trestled roughly from the dark woods, trapped in the alabaster statuary of rigid flesh."

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Mon September 29, 2014

'Rooms' Is Haunted By People (And Ghosts) That Can't Let Go

I have a friend whose parents died when she was a teenager, leaving her the house. They had been sick for a long time, and so the accumulation of stuff that generally accompanies any suburban existence was traumatically amplified: the dining room had two sets of furniture, the living room had three.

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NWPR Books
2:29 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

'Broken Monsters' Hits Horror Out Of The Park

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 11:58 am

The world has become hard to shock. It's not because evil is a new thing — that's been around since the beginning of time, and it definitely wasn't created by movies, video games and every other popular scapegoat for the decline of society. But it's undeniable that we've all become a little inured to things that might have been considered unspeakably horrifying 50 years ago.

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NWPR Books
3:39 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

James Ellroy's 'Perfidia' Is A Brutal, Beautiful Police Procedural

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 4:32 pm

There are a lot of reasons not to read James Ellroy's newest novel, Perfidia — the opening shot in his proposed second L.A. Quartet. It's a long and sprawling book with about a million pages and 10,000 characters, so if that kind of thing scares you, go back to your Hunger Games and leave the grown-ups alone.

It's a brutal book. More than one person crawls home with a handful of his own teeth. A quick gunshot to the head? That's a merciful way to go in Ellroy's Los Angeles, and not many characters get that kindness.

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NWPR Books
7:51 am
Wed August 13, 2014

'Electric Blue Suit' Is A Wise, Wistful Look At Memory And Mystery

What's the line between falsehood and fantasy? Between fear and horror? Between other worlds and the ones we carry inside our heads? Graham Joyce has been asking — and brilliantly answering — these questions for years. His latest book, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, is no different. One of Britain's most quietly reliable fantasists, Joyce has written a jewel of a novel that blends gentle nostalgia, Bildungsroman angst, and a glimpse of the dark, unreal places where loss and memory mingle.

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NWPR Books
9:42 am
Thu August 7, 2014

'The Kills' Sustains Suspense Across A Massive Structure

Richard House's thriller The Kills, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, weighs in at 1,024 pages. It's a long read, and worth every minute.

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NWPR Books
9:34 am
Thu August 7, 2014

'Seeders' Imagines A Pulpy Planet Of The Plants

In A.J. Colucci's 2012 debut, the sci-fi thriller The Colony, she describes a world where ants rise up to challenge the tyranny of pesticide-wielding humans. Instead of Planet of the Apes, it's Planet of the Ants — and with her second novel, Seeders, she's written a veritable Planet of the Plants. Unfortunately, the result isn't nearly as thrilling as it ought to be.

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