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New Titles List for the Week Sept 14, 2020


Elin Hilderbrand 28 summers : a novel  
Brigitte Benkemoun Finding Dora Maar : an artist, an address book, a life  
Ernest Hemingway In Our Time  
Marie-Helene Bertino Parakeet  
Brit Bennett The vanishing half  

Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers, Espionage & Intrigue
William Shaw Play with fire 
Donna Leon Trace elements 


Arts, Architecture & Crafts
Louise Fili Grafica della strada : the signs of Italy 686.2 F476

Biography & Genealogy
Mary-Lou Weisman Intensive care : a family love story 618.92 W435

Business & Economics
Michael Lewrick The design thinking playbook : mindful digital transformation of teams, products, services, businesses and ecosystems 658.4 L59
Jared A Ball The myth and propaganda of black buying power 330.9 B21
Rob Larson Bit tyrants : the political economy of Silicon Valley 338.47 L329

Computer Science
Chinmoy M Cracking the coding interview : 190 programming questions and solutions 005.1 M138x

Health & Medicine
Neal D Barnard Your body in balance : the new science of food, hormones, and health 612.3 B253

Literature & Writing
Duncan Minshull Beneath my feet : writers on walking 808.8 B434

Social Sciences & Current Events
Melissa Korn Unacceptable : privilege, deceit & the making of the college admissions scandal 378.1 K842
Matthew Hennessey Zero hour for gen X : how the last adult generation can save america from millennials 305.2 H392


Hilary Mantel The mirror & the light CD Fic Mantel
Lisa Jewell The family upstairs : a novel CD Fic Jewell


Elena Ferrante The lying life of adults
Christina Baker Kline The exiles : a novel

Sherry L (Sherry Lynn) Smith Bohemians West : free love, family, and radicals in twentieth-century America
Neil S Price Children of ash and elm : a history of the Vikings
Eula Biss Having and being had
Seyward Darby Sisters in hate : American women on the front lines of white nationalism
D L (Darryl L) Hughley Surrender, white people! : our unconditional terms for peace
Adam Hart Unfit for purpose : when human evolution collides with the modern world


Mario Giordano Auntie Poldi and the handsome Antonio
Lynne Hugo The Book of CarolSue
Francine Mathews Death on Tuckernuck
Fern Michaels Fearless Fern Michaels.
G S (Gabriel) Denning The finality problem
Jude Deveraux A forgotten murder
Lucy Foley The guest list : a novel
Guillermo del Toro The hollow ones
Laura Childs Lavender blue murder Laura Childs.
Christine Feehan Lethal game Christine Feehan.
Fiona Davis The lions of Fifth Avenue : a novel
Catherine Ryan Howard The nothing man Catherine Ryan Howard.
Danielle Steel The numbers game : a novel
Ellen Marie Wiseman The orphan collector
Jenny Milchman The second mother.
Ali Smith Summer : a novel
Donna Leon Trace elements.

Charles Conn Bulletproof problem solving the one skill that changes everything
Jessica Garrison The devil's harvest : a ruthless killer, a terrorized community, and the search for justice in California's Central Valley
Julien Cayla Inside marketing practices, ideologies, devices
Alan Chambers Lead yourself to success ordinary people achieving extraordinary results through self-leadership
Linda Cruse Leading on the frontline remarkable stories and essential leadership lessons from the world's danger zones
William A Adams Mastering leadership an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results
James Manktelow Mind tools for managers 100 ways to be a better boss
Kerry Hannon Never too old to get rich the entrepreneur's guide to starting a business mid-life
Frank J Rumbauskas Sales badassery kick ass. take names. crush the competition.
Brian Tracy The science of influence how to inspire yourself and others to greatness
David King Six days in august : the story of stockholm syndrome
Christopher Mulligan Talent keepers how top leaders engage and retain their best performers
Mitchell Kusy Why I don't work here anymore a leader's guide to offset the financial and emotional costs of toxic employees
Tacy M Byham Your first leadership job how catalyst leaders bring out the best in others

Posted on Sep. 14, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

Demystifying the Serial Killer

Avid mystery fans are undoubtedly familiar with the image of a serial killer as an eccentric genius, expertly leading police on dark, wild chases fed by premeditated clues designed to  result in endless detours. The highly intelligent murderer also tantalizes us in countless television series and blockbuster films. But if you're in the mood for a clever new twist on serial killer novels, check out the latest title by Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard and reviewed by Mechanics' Institute staffer Steven Dunlap:

"The Nothing Man is an offbeat thriller about Eve Black, the only survivor of a killing spree who writes a book about that experience thirty years later. The novel becomes a bestseller, piquing the interest of readers everywhere, including the still-at-large killer. As Black gets closer to the truth, the 'Nothing Man,' as he has come to be called because he leaves no trace of himself at the crime scene, is forced out of hiding.

"Howard's novel does much to challenge the cultural obsession of a serial killer as a 'dark magician.' In an essay on, the Edgar-nominated author explains how her research for this book led to her realization that our cultural construct of what she calls "the serial killer as dark magician" falls apart when examining case histories of actual criminals. In studying case files for The Nothing Man, Howard said she discovered how little intelligence or expertise serial killers actually had or needed in previous decades. Historically, criminals simply took advantage of institutional failures, the lack of sophisticated DNA testing and a faulty system of shared information between police jurisdictions, making getting away with murder as easy as crossing county or state lines."

If you are a fan of psychological thrillers such as The Nothing Man, you may also enjoy these (all titles can be reserved and checked out through MI's To Go express library service):

The Alienist by Caleb Carr - Dark, atmospheric 19th century murder investigation by Dr. Lazlo Kreizler, a brilliant psychologist with rather unconventional methods. Gaslit New York City never looked or felt so foreboding in the TNT television series by the same name. 

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsey - Mild-mannered Dexter Morgan works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police by day. By night, Morgan roams the streets in his secret life as a murderer of other criminals. You'll never look at shipping containers or plastic wrap in the same way after reading Lindsey's novel or watching the book-based TV series called Dexter. 

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock - Gritty and brutally violent, Pollock unflinchingly serves up a cast of depraved yet compelling characters, starting with tormented veteran Willard Russell, newly returned from World War II, a husband-and-wife team who troll the highways for victims and a spider-obsessed preacher. Optioned by Netflix in 2018, Pollock's novel was made into a film premiering in September. 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff - Pulp storytelling at its finest, impudently stirring up H.P. Lovecraft's characters as well as his grand supernatural visions but reinvented in a Jim Crow era escapade, Matt Ruff-style. The brand new TV series by the same name serves up monsters and adventure, all the while exploring racism and prodding the legacy of slavery in America.

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell - A former reporter who worked in a medical examiner's office, Cornwell proves that male authors aren't the only ones who excel at serial killer investigations. Phyllis Nagy, screenwriter for the 2015 movie Carol has been signed on to adapt Cornwell's book and more importantly, the character of Kay Scarpetta, medical examiner into a film.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Troubled reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to investigate the murders of two young girls. Camille's twisted family dynamics along with sharp, stylish depictions of a small southern town's backstabbing, bored females are fabulous fodder for the TV series by the same name. Not for Mary Poppins fans. 

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo - It's comforting to know that authors like Nesbo will carry on the Nordic noir legacy of Henning Mankell (Wallander) and Steig Larsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Exceptional characterization and chilling suspense tell the story of Inspector Harry Hole, who must break the pattern of eleven women who go missing, all on the day of the first snow. 

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith - Bad boy sociopath Tom Ripley is a handsome, extremely likable character, not at all the type you'd even suspect of murder. Entertaining yet darkly unsettling, the story provided the basis for the excellent 1999 psychological thriller by the same name.

Posted on Aug. 25, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

All eAudiobooks New Titles List for the Week of August 17


Kristan Higgins Always the last to know
Lindsay Ellis Axiom's end : a novel
Christina Chiu Beauty
Matthew Carr Black sun rising
Kristin Harmel The book of lost names
P W (Peter Warren) Singer Burn-in : a novel of the real robotic revolution
Bree Baker A call for kelp
S A Chakraborty The city of brass
Rennie Airth Cold kill
Amita Trasi The color of our sky
Roy Freirich Deprivation : a novel
Shari Lapeña The end of her : a novel
Alexander McCall Smith The geometry of holding hands
Jonathan Kellerman Half Moon Bay : a novel
Rebecca Taylor Her perfect life
Jill McCorkle Hieroglyphics : a novel
Rebecca Kauffman The house on Fripp Island
Laura Lippman Lady in the lake : a novel
Eliza Casey Lady rights a wrong
Elly Griffiths The lantern men : a Ruth Galloway mystery
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov Lolita
Alice Miller More miracle than bird : a novel
Brad Thor Near dark : a thriller
Spencer Quinn Of mutts and men
Jenn McKinlay Paris is always a good idea
Jim Butcher Peace talks : a novel of the Dresden files
JP Delaney Playing nice : a novel
Emma Donoghue The pull of the stars : a novel
Laurie R King Riviera gold : a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
Keith Rosson Road seven
Erica Bauermeister The scent keeper
Kevin Kwan Sex and vanity : a novel
Charlie Donlea The suicide house
David (David Stephen) Mitchell Utopia Avenue : a novel


Bill Buford Dirt : adventures, with family, in the kitchens of Lyon, looking for the origins of the French cooking
Jonathan Metzl Dying of whiteness : how the politics of racial resentment is killing America's heartland
Bill Buford Heat [an amateur's adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany]
Madeleine Korbel Albright Hell and other destinations : a 21st-century memoir
Jax Miller Hell in the heartland : murder, meth, and the case of two missing girls
Baynard Woods I got a monster : the rise and fall of America's most corrupt police squad
Hope Jahren Lab girl
Greta Thunberg Our house is on fire : scenes of a family and a planet in crisis
Stacey Abrams Our time is now : power, purpose, and the fight for a fair America

Posted on Aug. 19, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

Kanopy for streaming cinema

The Mechanics Institute now offers streaming video! The Kanopy online video streaming platform offers thousands of classic films, educational videos, documentaries, indie, art house, foreign films, and more. 

After clicking on this link you will need to authenticate using your Mechanics Institute barcode (the long number on the back of your membership card). This will lead you to an online form to set up your account on Kanopy. After this initial set-up, you will use your email address and a password of your choosing to access Kanopy. If you encounter any difficulties, please email us at [email protected] then we will set up a time for us to call you to talk you through the process. Once you have done the initial set up, bookmark the link to return to Kanopy to watch great films and videos. 

What can you find on Kanopy? Try a search to find out. Have a favorite writer? I searched for mine and found a wonderful documentary about her. Have a favorite topic, maybe cooking? You will discover Kanopy includes The Great Courses series, among many others, The Everyday Gourmet.  Explore Kanopy to find a video about whatever interests you. 

Our Friday's CinemaLit program will continue with members viewing the selected movie on Kanopy then participating in a group discussion (Click here for more information and to register for the discussion on Zoom).

[The picture for this post, Buster Keaton 29c (from the National Postal Museum, Scott Catalogue USA 2828, April 27, 1994.) comes from Smithsonian Open Access provided by the Smithsonian Institution, which has made over 3 million of its ditiized images freely available.]

Posted on Apr. 28, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

Free Plays from the National Theatre of London

As a public service during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Theatre of London places a video of one of its live performances on YouTube for free for a week at a time. This week enjoy a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Tamsin Grieg as "Malvolia," until Wednesday, April 30th, 7 p.m. UK time (That is noon Pacific Daylight Time).

Then starting noon Pacific Time on Wednesday the 30th, you can watch Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller alternate roles in a production of Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle, script by Nick Dear.

Next, starting May 7th, they return to Shakespeare with a performance of Anthony and Cleopatra starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo. (Both Shakespeare plays directed by Simon Godwin.)

Keep checking the National Theatre at Home's homepage for updates.

Posted on Apr. 27, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

Lessons from Russian Satire

(All of the books and stories mentioned here the Mechanics Institute Library provides to members as eBooks). 

When we think to ourselves that we do not live in ordinary times we have to wonder whether our experience would look at all unique to those who lived in other places at other times. The Russians lived through times of crisis, with an incompetent and often cruel government. In the 19th century a satirist named Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin wrote A History of a Town, that tells the story of townspeople who, generation after generation, submit to the increasingly cruel and bizarre dictates of the towns leaders. Sound familiar? 

"Everything worth learning about life you can learn from reading Chekhov," is an aphorism I truly believe. In The Bet, he tells the story of a man who bet his fortune that no one could live in isolation for 20 years.  For us it's only been a few months, but we all can relate to this story, perhaps in ways we could not before? 

In The Grasshopper, a vain, celebrity-obsessed woman takes her physician husband for granted, failing to appreciate until it's too late his generous and self-sacrificing soul and the essential work he did for so many people. I cannot help see the parallels to our present situation in which people most of us took for granted carry out their work under extremely difficult conditions without hazard pay. Similarly, How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials by Saltykov-Shchedrin tells a fable of how a peasant does all the work to support two officials stranded on an otherwise uninhabited island.  And in Agafya, a charming person proves shallow and destructive once you've become better acquainted with him. Again, sound familiar? And one of my all time favorite Chekhov stories, Ward No. 6, provides an indirect answer to the question: "Where do you find the only sane person in an insane world?"

(The Bet and  How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials appear in Best Russian Short Stories Compiled and Edited by Thomas Seltzer. Seltzer's anthology remains on of the most highly regarded translation of the stories it contains). 

Russian authors had to contend with censorship during the Tsarist regime but many found imaginative and inventive ways to "write around" the censors. Aleksander Radishchev's famous Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow read like a plain vanilla travelogue to the censors, describing a traveler's experiences going from one of the empire's major cities to the other.  But after its publication, with its descriptions of the harsh conditions in which serfs had to live contrasted with the extravagant livestyle of Catherine the Great's favorite, Count Potemkin, the fact that he not only wrote a work of fiction disguised as a travelogue but also a deliberately subversive work earned the author a death sentence, commuted to exhile in Siberia. (You can check out an ebook copy of Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow by registering, for free, with the Internet Archive).

We also have satirical Russian literature eAudiobooks. One of my favorites, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (and read expertly by George Guidall), tells the story of how the Devil visits the Soviet Union in the 1930s and fits right in. The story within the story about Pontius Pilate shows a remarkable abilty for compelling story-telling and as read in the audiobook shows Pilate in different light than any other work of literature. 

[The picture for this post, Russian Man (Antonion Zeno Shindler, 1813-1899. The Smithsonian American Art Museum.) comes from Smithsonian Open Access provided by the Smithsonian Institution, which has made over 3 million of its ditiized images freely available.]

Posted on Apr. 23, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

(Updated April 16) Streaming Opera from the Met -- For Free

The Metropolitan Opera has launched nightly Opera streams. Each night's performance will be available for 23 hours after it starts. To view/listen online 

  1. Go to the Met's webstie: 
  2. Register (free, look in the upper right corner of the window for the "Login/Register" link). 
  3. After you register (or login, if you're returning), click on the words "The Metropolitan Opera" at the top of the window. 
  4. The night's opera will have a "watch now" button on the Met's homepage. 

All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30pm EDT and will remain available via the homepage of for 23 hours.

Update April 16, 2020

The programming continues. Please go to the Metropolitan Opera's homepage to for the Schedule of performances up to April 26th. 

For more information, click here. [Schedule to April 5, see link above for current schedule of performances -- April 8, 2020].


        New York, NY (March 13, 2020)—A day after canceling upcoming performances due to concerns around the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for the duration of the closure. The new offering will begin on Monday, March 16 with the 2010 HD performance of Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and starring Elīna Garanča in the title role and Roberto Alagna as Don José.


       All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30pm EDT and will remain available via the homepage of for 23 hours. The homepage link will open the performance on the Met Opera on Demand streaming service. The performance will also  be viewable on all Met Opera on Demand apps.

Posted on Apr. 2, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

True Crime Roundup March 2020

In the first "True Crime Roundup" for 2020, we have a book by Joshua Hammer: The falcon thief : a true tale of adventure, treachery, and the hunt for the perfect bird. "A true-crime adventure about a rogue who trades in rare birds and their eggs-and the wildlife detective determined to stop him." (Hammer also wrote The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, which proved very popular with MI members.) 

The story of an unrepentant birds’-egg thief who found a lucrative market for rare wild falcons on the Arabian Peninsula... (Continue reading the Kirkus Review) .


You may know Jerry Lee Lewis married his thirteen-year-old cousin, but did you know he shot his bass player in the chest with a shotgun or that a couple of his wives died under extremely mysterious circumstances? Or that Sam Cooke was shot dead in a seedy motel after barging into the manager's office naked to attack her? Maybe not. So begins the description of Disgraceland : musicians getting away with murder and behaving very badly, by Jake Brennan, a book that tells true crime stories of how rock stars do truly insane things and invite truly insane things to happen to them; murder, drug trafficking, rape, cannibalism and the occult.



In the book, 18 tiny deaths : the untold story of Frances Glessner Lee and the invention of modern forensics Bruce Goldfarb examines the work of a woman


"... born a socialite to a wealthy and influential Chicago family in the 1870s, was never meant to have a career, let alone one steeped in death and depravity. Yet she developed a fascination with the investigation of violent crimes and made it her life's work. Best known for creating the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of dioramas that appear charming-until you notice the macabre little details: an overturned chair, a blood-spattered comforter. And then, of course, there are the bodies-splayed out on the floor, draped over chairs-clothed in garments that Lee lovingly knit with sewing pins. Lee developed a system that used the Nutshells dioramas to train law enforcement officers to investigate violent crimes, and her methods are still used today. 18 Tiny Deaths is the story of a woman who overcame the limitations and expectations imposed by her social status and pushed forward an entirely new branch of science that we still use today." 

With an introduction by Judy Melinek, the author of Working stiff, another book popular with MI members. 



For a book more in the style of a police procedural, try The third rainbow girl : the long life of a double murder in Appalachia, by Emma Copley Eisenberg. 

In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived; they traveled with a third woman however, who lived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the "Rainbow Murders," though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas--turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries. Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America--its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.



For readers who like to read true tales of espionage and books about World War II, we have recently acquired An impeccable spy : Richard Sorge, Stalin's master agent by Owen Matthews. 

The thrilling true story of Richard Sorge - the man John le Carré called 'the spy to end spies', and whose actions turned the tide of the Second World War. Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy. Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets - his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war. Never before has Sorge's story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives - along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge - to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as 'the most formidable spy in history'.


(Note: all summaries in this post adapted from publisher descriptions and/or dust jackets).

Posted on Feb. 24, 2020 by Steven Dunlap

Nobel Prizes in Literature for 2018 and 2019

The Swedish Academy has announce the winners of both the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes in literature today (October 10, 2019). 

Olga Tokarczuk won the 2018 award for her book Flights 

  • It's not a novel exactly. It's not even a collection of intertwined short stories, although there are longer sections featuring recurring characters and well-developed narratives. Overall, though, this is a series of fragments tenuously linked by the idea of travel through space and also through time and a thoughtful, ironic voice. Movement from one place to another, from one thought to another, defines both the preoccupations of this discursive text and its style. 
  • Read a review in the New Yorker.

Peter Handke won the 2019 award for his book The Moravian night : a story 

  • An unnamed writer invites friends to a houseboat docked in the Balkans, where he regales them with stories of his travels across Europe. The writer's personal history is bound up with that of Central Europe, including stops in places irrevocably changed by time.
  • Read a review in Kirkus.


(MI Library members please click on the titles above to read additional summaries/reviews and/or to place a hold on the book). You can also read more about these authors and their works in the Washington Post.

Last year a scandal involving sexual assault and financial malpractice led the Swedish Academy to decide not to award a prize for literature in 2018 but to award the prize for 2018 at the same time as the one for 2019. 


Posted on Oct. 10, 2019 by Steven Dunlap

True Crime Roundup October 2019

For all our true crime readers we have six new titles we acquired in the last couple months that you may enjoy. (Click on a title below to place a hold). 

The ghosts of Eden Park : the bootleg king, the women who pursued him, and the murder that shocked jazz- age America / Karen Abbott.

  • In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a multi-millionaire. The press calls him King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new Pontiacs for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States. Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the U.S. Attorney's office hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences. -- Provided by publisher.

Know my name : a memoir / Chanel Miller.

  • Not a typical true crime book. We include it here because this important book describes a crime and its aftermath. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting "Emily Doe" on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral, was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress. It inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Now Miller reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.She tells of her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial, reveals the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios, and illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators.


My friend Anna : the true story of the fake heiress who conned me and half of New York City / Rachel DeLoache Williams.

  • The From a photo editor at Vanity Fair comes the true account of her friendship with Anna Delvey--a woman posing as a German heiress who conned her out of $62,000--and her quest to obtain justice. 


Savage appetites : four true stories of women, crime, and obsession / Rachel Monroe.

  • In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the "Mother of Forensic Science," she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate's guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own. A combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Savage appetites is a journey into obsession, scrupulously exploring empathy, justice and the persistent appeal of crime. 


Without a prayer : the death of Lucas Leonard and how one church became a cult / Susan Ashline.

  • The horrifying true story of a killing inside the secluded Word of Life Christian Church, a parish-turned-cult in upstate New York. Teenager Lucas Leonard made shocking admissions in front of the altar―he'd practiced witchcraft, conspired to murder his parents, and committed unspeakable crimes. The confessions earned him a brutal beating by a gang of angry church members, including his parents and sister. Lucas was brought to the hospital dead, awakening the sleepy community of Chadwicks, New York, to the horror that had been lurking next door.


Moneyland : the inside story of the crooks and kleptocrats who rule the world / Oliver Bullough.

  • Another title atypical of the true crime genre but an important and engaging read nonetheless. From ruined towns on the edge of Siberia, to Bond-villain lairs in London and Manhattan, something has gone wrong. Kleptocracies, governments run by corrupt leaders that prosper at the expense of their people, are on the rise. Investigative journalist Oliver Bullough traveled around the world to find Moneyland--the secret country of the lawless, stateless superrich. (His unsucessful attempt to visit the physical address of a shell company on the island of Nevens reads like a Kafka novel). Learn how the institutions of Europe and the United States have become money-laundering operations, attacking the foundations of many of the world's most stable countries. Meet the kleptocrats. Meet their awful children. And find out how heroic activists around the world are fighting back.


(Note: all summaries in this post adeapted from publisher descriptions and/or dust jackets except for Without a prayer, adapted from the summary).

Posted on Oct. 9, 2019 by Steven Dunlap