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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2016/09/16 Permalink
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    The Best Audiobooks to Listen to On Your Run 

    Running is more than just exercise. It’s peace, it’s meditation, it’s escape. It’s discipline and joy. It’s challenge and self-improvement. It’s all these things—and it’s also very often a little boring. Science tells us you can only meditate so much before you start going a little crazy. That high-energy playlist you put together on your phone or MP3 player becomes a lesson in torture when you’re about to hear it for the 50th time.

    To change things up, why not listen to an audiobook on your next jog, training run, or race? Audiobooks offer an escape from the cramp in your left calf, the opportunity to keep up with your reading list while you keep up with your regimen, and inspiration. That means you’ll get your butt off the couch and your feet into your running kicks, if only so you can find out what happens next in the story. Here are our picks for the best audiobooks for running, based on the length of your runs.


    Jogs & 5Ks
    Some folks like to run like Forrest Gump, but others like to dash out for a quick jog or occasionally run a fun 5K. Here are two audiobooks that off bite-sized fiction ideal for short runs.

    The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Coyle
    You simply can’t go wrong with Sherlock Holmes. Aside from being some of the best mysteries ever devised, Doyle has a fun, clear writing style that brings Victorian London and its surroundings to life, spiced with a sly sense of humor. There’s a reason these stories continue to inspire new books, TV shows, and films to this day, after all, and the best part is that you’ll be rounding your way home on your morning jog just as Holmes is giving you the solution.

    Selected Shorts: New American Stories, by Symphony Space
    The idea is simple: Take short stories by some of America’s best writers (in this case, Sherman Alexie, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Aleksandar Hemon, and Jhumpa Lahiri), assemble a crack team of actors and production experts, and perform the heck out of those stories. The result is dynamite fiction in your earbuds; the sort of audio fiction experience that lifts your spirits and energy level not just because the stories are great, but because the production itself is so well done.




    Half Marathons and 10Ks
    If you’re in training for a more serious run, you need fiction that will carry you for a couple of hours, but not leave you hanging with an hour to go after you cross the finish line. These two audiobooks are short—but very, very sweet.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s classic is hilarious, urbane, and touching. Anyone can read his words and sound instantly smarter and more charming, but in the hands of Michael C. Hall (Dexter, et al) the world of Holly Golightly swells into colorful life. Like millions of readers over the last five decades, you’ll be completely absorbed in Capote’s world—right up until your run or race is over. For extra points, cue up Moon River on your music playlist right after.

    Bookshot: The Trial, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
    Patterson’s newest innovation in his fast-paced fiction is the Bookshot, a short novel designed for busy people. Which makes them ideal for runners, as well. Clocking in just over two hours, this entry in Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series is designed from the ground up to be a fast, intense, and entertaining reading experience that’ll keep your legs strong and your mind off that big hill coming up at the end of the race.




    A little fun run isn’t for you, you’re all-in and you’re doing the full 26.2 miles—not to mention the training that comes before. These audiobooks are a bit heftier, and are designed to last through your whole race.

    What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, by Haruki Murakami
    While runners don’t always want to listen to someone talk about running while they’re running—distraction is usually what we’re going for—Murakami’s memoir about how running has shaped his life reads more like one of his novels than a standard inspirational memoir. The literary sheen and deep philosophical tangle Murakami tackles will get you thinking about your own running in a new—and newly energized—way.

    Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    The box says this audiobook isn’t read but rather “performed” by James Franco—which is a pretty accurate description. Take a classic piece of literature by one of the funniest and most interesting writers of all time, combine it with an actor who’s proved himself willing to experiment while simultaneously being hilarious in several comedies, and you have the ideal way to spend about five or six hours while you devour more than 26 miles.




    Ultra Marathons and Beyond

    Marathons are a good starting point for you? You might need 10-20 hours of fiction. Our pick is the entertaining, mischievous new novel  Truly, Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarity. Telling the time-skipping story of a group of friends and neighbors who attend a spontaneous barbecue that takes a mysterious, dramatic turn will keep your ears glued to your headphones while your feet eat up the course.

    What audiobooks would you recommend to runners?

    The post The Best Audiobooks to Listen to On Your Run appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 3:00 pm on 2016/07/18 Permalink
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    7 Book Recs Based on Your Favorite Outlander Character 

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for Outlander Season 2.

    The second season of the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s hefty, heaving, lusty Outlander series ended rather satisfyingly, with Claire learning of Jamie’s surprise fate after the Battle of Culloden. She knows her true love lives (if a few centuries back), and we know our collective dreams also live.

    Unfortunately, now, we wait. The countdown to Season 3 will be as tense and torturous as any scene with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and even more so for those who’ve read all the way through the Outlander books. With that in mind, we recommend filling the void by picking up reads that remind you of your favorite character(s), whether that’s the Sassenach herself or noted door-lurker Dougal MacKenzie.

    Claire: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer
    Being torn between two worlds has taken its toll on Claire, and that trauma has been explored throughout the series as she strives first to protect Frank, the husband she has no intention of returning to, and then comes to terms with her separation from Jamie. Greta Wells is in the unique situation of understanding that kind of heartache and alternate timelines. In 1985, having lost her brother and her lover in short succession, Greta sets out to treat her depression with a radical psychiatric treatment. That treatment, however, has some unexpected effects, chiefly the introduction to Greta of her alternate lives in 1918 and 1941. In the same way Claire has been forced to make decisions about which time she calls home, Greta too must decide on a course.

    Jamie: Into the Wilderness, by Sara Donati
    Donati’s series has the Gabaldon seal of approval and a sly, adorable Outlander cameo to boot. It also has a swoon-worthy hero in the person of Nathaniel Bonner, the son of James Fenimore Cooper’s storied Natty Bumppo, here known as Hawkeye. An adopted son of the Mohawk Nation, Nathaniel has an exotic appeal for Elizabeth Middleton, an Englishwoman recently immigrated to the infant United States. Their unconventional love story will win over fans of Jamie and Claire quicker than you can say Craigh na Dun.

    Murtaugh: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
    Much like Murtaugh, Thomas Cromwell is usually the bastion of sanity in the topsy-turvy bed of lust and lunacy that is his world. While Murtaugh’s intentions are, on the whole, more pure than those of the ambitious Cromwell, both men tend to cut through a problem logically and more readily than those around them. Seeing the court of King Henry VIII through the eyes of a rational human being is a treat, and a relatable desire for anyone who wished they could see the Jacobite uprising through the point of view of Murtaugh.

    Dougal MacKenzie: Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts
    Dougal considers himself (well, considered …) a fine leader of men and military might, but his plans rarely tend to go according to plan. Napoleon Bonaparte, statesman and soldier, is a good composite for how Dougal would like to be seen. Whether he achieves that level of esteem is beside the point, because with Dougal, thinking tends to come after action. Would that decisiveness were the only quality a commander needed to be successful.

    Geillis Duncan: 11/22/63, by Stephen King
    As we learned in the season finale, Geillis did her homework on the mechanics of time travel, though her accuracy on the proceedings probably only earned her a C. Her rather cavalier attitude about changing the past is another matter entirely, and one that finds a soulmate in King’s time-traveling, Lindy-hopping epic. At some point, everyone’s thought about world events they’d change if they could turn back time. The Kennedy assassination tops many a list, including that of mild-mannered English teacher Jake Epping, who has that mission and a portal to the past plopped on him in the back of a Maine diner. Jake’s got copious amounts of notes to guide his journey, but that doesn’t mean he can succeed—or that he should. As Jake and Geillis both learn, the past doesn’t like being meddled with.

    Black Jack Randall: Smoke, by Dan Vyleta
    Vyleta’s inspired take on the Victorian novel introduces a supernatural element that would have been mighty convenient for anyone who encountered Captain Randall. In Smoke, we find an England where wicked thoughts and deeds are marked by smoke issuing forth from the bodies of those responsible. Smoke and soot are the province of the lower classes, and the children of the aristocracy are dispatched to elite boarding schools to drain them of their impurities. Of course, things are not always as they seem, and more so in this England than most. Still, you can’t help but wish everyone’s least favorite Redcoat had had some telltale plumes.

    Frank: How to Conquer The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, by Amy Reynaldo
    Look, he’s had a lot of time on his hands through the series. Everyone’s got to fill the void somehow. The man lived and apparently died almost entirely off-screen; he had to have been doing something.

  • Sona Charaipotra 7:45 pm on 2016/04/01 Permalink
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    April’s Best New Fiction 

    Spring is in the air, the ground has thawed, and April’s literary offerings will have you digging deep, with rich family sagas that center on home and holding tight to your corner of the world in the face of change. Look forward to American-set historical novels from favorites like Anna Quindlen, Kathleen Grissom, Jane Hamilton, and Leila Meacham; a Pride and Prejudice retelling from Curtis Sittenfeld; and a sophomore novel from Charles Bock that will leave you in tears. 

    Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen
    In her eighth novel, Pulitzer Prize winner Quindlen—author of Object Lessons and Still Life With Bread Crumbs—delves deep into the lives of the Miller clan, settled in 1960s rural Pennsylvania, in this family saga that explores the darkness beneath the idyllic surface of small-town life as a flood threatens to sweep away everything they’ve known and loved. Narrated by bright teen Mimi, it’s a rumination on commitment, loyalty, ambition, and, at its heart, family.

    Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Bestseller Sittenfeld, best known for Prep and American Wife,takes on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist. Her story centers on thirtysomething New York City magazine writer Liz, who returns home to Cincinnati along with her sister, Jane, when their father falls ill. Their sprawling Tudor is a mess, their younger sisters still live at home, and Mama Bennett is bent on marrying off at least some of her five daughters, each a modern mess in her own way. The distraction and romantic catalyst here is the arrival of hot doctor Chip Bingley, fresh off a Bachelor-esque reality show, dragging his awkward pal, gifted surgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, along for the ride. A must-read for Austen aficionados and fans of a modern love story well told.

    Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
    In this long-awaited companion to her 2010 bestseller The Kitchen House, Grissom centers on former slave Jamie Pyke, who escaped the Virginia Plantation where he was held and is passing as a wealthy white silversmith in posh Philadelphia. There, he’s thriving—and soon to be a new father—when his beloved servant Pan is captured and sold into slavery. As his secret is discovered and his new life shatters, Jamie decides to risk it all to free Pan—even if that means risking re-capture.

    Now And Again, by Charlotte Rogan
    Paranoia? I don’t think so! From the bestselling author of The Lifeboat comes this fast-paced drama about middle-aged Maggie Rayburn, a secretary at a munitions plant, who accidentally discovers a major coverup about radioactive weapons with horrific longterm effects that sets her on a path to justice. Her story parallels that of Army captain and heir Penn Sinclair, bent on exposing the truth about the Iraq war. Quick, rich, and timely, Rogan’s tale offers an unflinching look at the military complex and the war wounds it leaves on all of us.

    Titans, by Leila Meacham
    The drama is as big as Texas in this sprawling saga from Roses author Meacham. Fraternal twins Nathan and Samantha were separated at birth by their self-absorbed mama Millicent, who gave Samantha up for adoption. The girl grew up as a wealthy heiress, while Nathan grew up as a farm hand. Their birth father reunites them at 20 with an opportunity that could just be black gold. But the rift runs deep in this clan, and money brings its own traumas. A fun, soapy story (Dallas, anyone?), rich with details about early twentieth-century Texas.

    The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
    Set in Wisconsin at the turn of the 21st century, Hamilton’s latest has a throwback, hand-crafted feel. It tells the story of farm girl Mary Frances, who frets as she witnesses the sea change that might just mean the end of her beloved family orchard. It has existed four generations, and if Francie has anything to say about it, will stoically carry on in the face of a literally shifting landscape. Chronicling a vanishing lifestyle, this coming of age story is poignant and tender, with some bumpy lessons for all of us along the way.

    Miss Julia Inherits A Mess, by Ann B. Ross
    In book 17 in Ross’s long-running series, southern charmer Miss Julia finds herself named the executor of Mattie Freeman’s will after the woman dies in an unfortunate accident. Then a young man shows up, claiming to be Freeman’s long-lost nephew and demanding to live in the apartment Miss Julia’s charged with inventorying while he writes a family history. But Miss Julia’s no fool: something’s going on here, and she’s going to get to the bottom of it.

    Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
    This promising debut traces the journey of three women based on real historical figures through the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, during which their lives intersect at a concentration camp for women. Socialite Caroline, a spinster at 37, does charity work at the French consulate. Former Girl Guide Kasia finds herself in an underground youth group when Nazis seize her Polish hometown and take her to the camp. And young doctor Herta is a German stalwart and Nazi who ends up working at the camp, experimenting on inmates like Kasia. Engrossing and sometimes grisly, Kelly’s Girls is heavy with historic detail and shades of gray.

    The Railwayman’s Wife, by Ashley Hay
    The setting is post–World War II coastal Australia, and the newly widowed Anikka, now a single mother, is trying to hold things together, and hold onto hope. She finds it in the form of a poem, and falls headfirst in love with both the words and, perhaps, their author, Roy, a returned soldier who’s battling demons of his own. A vividly drawn, simmering tale of the risks of living, which asks the question, how do you survive after such loss?

    Alice & Oliver, by Charles Bock
    Bock, author of the critically acclaimed Beautiful Children, is back with this cutting look at a family in crisis, based on his own experience with his late wife. It’s New York in the early 1990s, and Alice and Oliver are the picture of the chic young family—she a fashion designer and new mother, he a fledgling businessman. Then comes the cancer diagnosis that shatters them, as Oliver attempts to unravel the maze of the health care system, and Alice tries to just hold herself together, physically and mentally. Be forewarned: this one will wreck you.

  • Jenny Shank 3:30 pm on 2016/02/26 Permalink
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    And the Winner Is…10 Award-Worthy 2015 Books 

    I engage in many forms of book nerdery, including book hoarding and keeping a running list of everything I read each year. Also, I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I figure I’m among friends here: recently I’ve started awarding my own private book prizes each year. My book awards have none of the razzle-dazzle of a real awards ceremony—I merely make a note on my annual reading list about which book wins the prize for best novel, best debut, best short story collection, best translation, and more. I have no statuettes—the winners never even know they’ve been honored. (I might occasionally get really wild and toast them with a cup of herbal tea or something.) But this year, I’m taking my annual book awards big time and publicly announcing the winners of my personal Book Nerd Oscars® for award-worthy books I read in 2015. Without further ado, let’s get those envelopes open!

    Best Male Character: Teddy Todd in A God In Ruins, by Kate Atkinson
    Atkinson continued the story of the riveting Todd family that she began in Life After Life with 2015’s A God In Ruins, a moving, heartfelt novel that swirls back and forth in time, from before World War II to decades after it. This book stars the winning Teddy Todd, little brother of Life After Life‘s Ursula Todd, in the role of his lifetime. Literally. Teddy evolves from a directionless youth, bent on becoming a poet, to an unenthusiastic banker, to a crackerjack RAF bomber pilot in World War II, and several other iterations, until he eventually becomes a first-rate grandpa. Whew! Talk about range. During World War II, Teddy makes the promise “that if he did survive then in the great afterward he would always try to be kind, to live a good quiet life.” Teddy succeeds, and wins Best Male Character for his efforts.

    Best Book AND Best Female Character: A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin (playing herself)
    Berlin published with small presses during her lifetime, and only a tiny cadre of devotees knew her work at the time of her death in 2004. But in 2015 her a selection of her short stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, was published to global acclaim, becoming a best-seller and making dozens of best-books-of-the-year lists. Berlin wrote fascinating, funny, heartbreaking short stories from her experiences as a single mother of four boys, her work as a school teacher, medical assistant, E.R. staffer, and cleaning woman, her struggle with alcoholism, her time as a teenage debutante in Chile, her childhood in mining camps in Alaska, Texas, and elsewhere, and love affairs with various louche, artistic men. Berlin was my writing teacher, mentor, and friend, and I always knew she was a classic. Now, as her work continues to be translated, the whole world knows it too.

    Best Supporting Female Character: Mazie Phillips in Saint Mazie, by Jami Attenberg
    Mazie Phillips was actually the main character in Saint Mazie, but you know that thing where leads choose to contend for best supporting awards for a better shot at winning a prize? I’m doing that here. Also, the title of “supporting” fits the generous Phillips, who “led a very big life for someone who barely left a twenty-block radius,” as Attenberg writes. Attenberg based Mazie on a real woman who worked as a ticket seller in her uncle’s movie theater on the Lower East Side in Manhattan and became known as “The Queen of the Bowery,” for her charitable acts towards down-and-out folks during the Great Depression. Mazie is sassy, spirited, and sexy, and Attenberg has captured an unforgettable voice in Saint Mazie.

    Best Supporting Male Character: Sten and Adam Stenson, in The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle
    A father and son who star in T.C. Boyle’s The Harder They Come share the Best Supporting Actor award for their various acts of violence and lunacy. In this fast-paced novel inspired by news events, Sten Stenson, a Vietnam vet retiree, foils a robbery attempt on a Costa Rican vacation by disarming and killing the robber with his bare hands. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Stenson’s son Adam is spiraling into insanity. Fed by delusions that he is John Colter, famous mountain man, Adam goes on a crime spree and lives off the land, commando-style, in the California wilderness while authorities hunt him.

    Best Author: Jane Smiley, for the Last Hundred Years Trilogy
    Jane Smiley wins my Best Author prize for her Last Hundred Years Trilogy, which includes Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age. The trilogy tells the gripping story of the Langdon family, who originate on a farm in Iowa and, over the course of the 20th century, spread across America and make their way in various careers. Smiley starts her story in 1920, and writes a chapter about each year through 2020, masterfully introducing dozens of characters, including the simple, decent farmer Joe Langdon and his canny older brother, World War II sniper and arms dealer Frank Langdon. Smiley makes the reader care about all her characters through rich detail and psychological authenticity. You’ll be in suspense as you wait to find out what will happen to the Langdons during the Great Depression, World War II, the prosperous ’50s, the Vietnam War, and the Wall Street-focused ’80’s.

    Best Short Story Collection: Night At The Fiestas, by Kristin Valdez Quade ,and Music for Wartimeby Rebecca Makkai
    My awards for best short stories go to two talented practitioners of the storytelling art. Kristin Valdez Quade’s debut Night At The Fiestas features powerful stories set mainly in Catholic, Mexican-American communities in New Mexico. Between the arresting “The Five Wounds,” about a loserish character determined to find redemption through portraying Jesus in a Stations of the Cross reenactment, and the funny, surprising “Jubilee,” about the daughter of a field hand who grows up to attend Stanford with the daughter of her dad’s boss, you’ll be left with your jaw hanging open.

    Rebecca Makkai’s great wit and playful imagination fuel the stories in Music for Wartime, which revolve around the lengths artists will go to for their art. The versatile Makkai will break your heart with tales of life under totalitarian regimes and make you laugh with her story about a reality show called “Starving Artist.”

    Best Nonfiction: American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, by Hannah Nordhaus
    Hannah Nordhaus’s compelling search for the truth about Julia Schuster Staab wins my Best Nonfiction award. “Her life spanned the second half of the nineteenth century,” Nordhaus writes, “and her death came too soon. She is Santa Fe’s most famous ghost. She is also my great-great-grandmother.” Nordhaus consults family records, archives, books, historians, and even psychic mediums in her quest to piece together the life of Julia, whose ghost is said to haunt the La Posada hotel, her former home, in Santa Fe’s plaza. This book will be irresistible for lovers of southwest history, ghost stories, and family sagas.

    Best Novel that Should be a Screenplay: The Whites, by Richard Price         
    Richard Price slays me, both through his wonderful literary crime novels and in his screenplay writing for shows such as The Wire. Price intended to dash off The Whites as a simple detective story to be published under the pen name Harry Brandt, but once he got involved in the story, he worked his signature Price magic and invested this tale of a band of cops trying to solve a mystery surrounding a decades-old case with the rich characterization and killer dialogue that he’s known for. Watch for the Scott Rudin film adaptation of this one in years to come.

    Best (Literary) Cinematography: Into the Savage Country, by Shannon Burke
    As a book reviewer who has specialized in covering fiction set in the West for more than a decade, I’ve read a lot of western novels. It takes something special in this genre to get me hollering and carrying on like a drunken mountain man, and Burke’s Into the Savage Country has it. In 1826, 22-year-old William Wyeth is working as a fur trapper in St. Louis when he joins up with a hunting exhibition to Wyoming’s Wind River range. Into the Savage Country is filled with action, rich characters, and of course those sweeping views of the great American West that won this the Best (Literary) Cinematography award.

    ‘Oscar®’ is the registered trademark and service mark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • Jeff Somers 3:30 pm on 2015/08/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , true detective, We Recommend   

    5 Books to Read Instead of Watching True Detective‘s Second Season 

    Season One of HBO’s True Detective was a huge hit and an incredible pop culture moment. Feeding off the remarkable (and completely unpredicted) phenomenon of career revival known as the “McConaissance,” the series took several improbable ingredients—including lead actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the direction of Cary Fukunaga, and the trippy, overwrought dialogue of writer Nick Pizzolatto—and somehow stirred it into one of the most watchable, most-discussed TV series to hit in a long time. Time is a flat circle, indeed.

    Season two has new actors, a new director, the same writer—but less success. While late-inning episodes have brought its overall score up, it’s still running a tepid 65% at Rotten Tomatoes. If the show’s not quite worth your time the way it was last year, what should you do instead? Well, read, of course—and here are five gritty noir novels that will give you the same thrills as True Detective at its best, without the awful Colin Farrell mustache.

    L.A. Confidential, by James Ellroy
    Why bother with an imitation when you can go straight to the source? Set in 1950s California, this tale of a trio of detectives who slowly come together as allies to investigate a horrific killing that was made to look like a robbery gone wrong is gripping and white-knuckle tense. The cops are almost as bad as the criminals they’re set up against, and as they dig deeper they discover there really is no bottom to the corruption and rot all around them. Ellroy spins a complex tale masterfully, never confusing the reader even as he holds back clues and information for nasty surprises, and his dialogue is some of the best in the history of hard-boiled noir.

    Songs of a Dead Dreamer, by Thomas Ligotti
    The first season of True Detective was so similar in tone, approach, and even details to the short stories of Thomas Ligotti, there was talk of plagiarism. While that was a stretch (the words homage or inspiration would be better), the fact is Ligotti’s horror has the same damp, rotten, ominous tone that made the first season of the show so incredibly addictive. But Ligotti ties off his stories with endings that truly satisfy and upset, instead of the more conventional conclusion the first season of the show wound down to.

    2666, by Roberto Bolaño
    Bolaño’s last novel before his death in 2004, 2666 is a bit broader in scope than True Detective: it spans decades of time and jumps between different stories. But its tone of dread and atmosphere of corruption and futility in the face of multiple murders of women in a Mexican border town and the indifference (and perhaps active interference) of the authorities in charge of the investigation put it smack into the True Detective wheelhouse. At 900 pages in its English translation, this isn’t a fast read, but Bolaño expertly creates a real-feeling universe that’s just as creepy as Pizzolatto’s swampy Louisiana.

    Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
    Flynn doesn’t overstuff her settings with the sort of damp, gothic detail that would seem to be the True Detective brand, but in Dark Places she pulls together many of the elements that made the TV show so irresistible. It’s a mystery that pulls together satanic child abuse, devil worship, and dysfunctional families, spinning out ominous clues and red herrings at a steady pace, crafting a paranoid, uncomfortable story that starts surprising the reader until you can barely take it any more. While the story does lack professional detectives, the amateur sleuths who dragoon Libby—the surviving daughter of a massacre—into looking into her brother’s guilt or innocence decades later are as true a bunch of detectives as any book like this needs.

    Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett
    One of the greatest detective writers ever, Hammett’s story of the country’s most corrupt town is dark, funny, and tautly written. Like the current season of True Detective, the story concerns a community that’s not so much a town as a construct—a place owned and operated by corporate interests. The plot is complex, the protagonist not entirely likable, and as things spin out of anyone’s control, the body count becomes prodigious. Through it all, Hammett reminds you this is America—a truer America, in some ways, than any patriotic or family-oriented vision you might be offered. Red Harvest has served as an unspoken inspiration for countless films and other stories, and is a classic of American literature as well as a dark, grimy noir.

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