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  • Jen Harper 4:00 pm on 2016/03/03 Permalink
    Tags: girl on the train, , , , , , , what to read next   

    Loved The Girl on the Train? Here are 6 New Books to Read Next 

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    Yes, yes, we know. You know. Everybody and their great aunt knows. If you liked Gillian Flynn’s dark and suspenseful Gone Girl, then you have to read Paula Hawkins’s page-turner The Girl on the Train—and vice versa. But you likely knocked out both of those books before the calendar flipped over to 2016. So what now?

    You can’t just go around and around reading these two admittedly awesome books for the rest of your days, pretending you don’t anticipate the plot twists, and you’ve likely read a readalike or two since you first devoured them. So to keep the twists coming, we’ve rounded up some recent and upcoming releases that are musts for any The Girl on the Train superfan.

    Maestra, by L.S. Hilton
    Maestra, out April 19, marks the first in a new trilogy from author L.S. Hilton—and as it’s already been optioned for film by Columbia Pictures, you know it’s going to be buzzworthy. This sexy psychological thriller stars cynical narrator Judith Rashleigh, an assistant at a London art auction house by day, a hostess at a seedy club by night, and a high-class escort on her nights off. After getting fired from the art house for discovering a dark secret, she agrees to accompany one of the club’s biggest clients to the French Riviera—where he ends up the victim of a fatal accident. Judith must flee, while faking it among the rich and famous in this unpredictable new page-turner.

    Try Not to Breathe, by Holly Seddon
    Alex Dale and Amy Stevenson are both stuck, but in very different ways, in Seddon’s debut thriller. Alex is an alcoholic, having lost her husband, a baby, and her journalism job to addiction. She’s working on a freelance writing assignment when she meets Amy, who spent 15 years in a coma—conscious but paralyzed—following an attack by an older man when she was just 15 years old. Perspectives alternate between Alex, as she tries to solve the mystery of what happened to Amy and resurrect her own reporting career; Amy, as she relives the past and remains physically trapped in her present; and Jacob, Amy’s boyfriend at the time of the attack, who carries guilt about what happened to her. This well-paced tale takes some dark twists and turns, keeping readers guessing until the very end.

    The Widow, by Fiona Barton
    Barton’s debut asks a harrowing question: What would you do if your spouse was suspected of a horrific crime against a child? That’s precisely what Jean Taylor was faced with four years ago, when she was forced into the role of wife to a wrongly accused man. Though he was ultimately acquitted, the mystery of the little girl’s disappearance once pinned on him was never solved. Now Jean’s husband is dead, fatally struck by a bus, and reporters are trying to get the exclusive rights to her story. But what story will Jean choose to share? Suspenseful and intriguing, The Widow examines the dark secrets that can exist in a marriage.

    Second Life, by S.J. Watson
    Second Life is Watson’s second thriller, behind her bestselling Before I Go To Sleep, to offer up a thrilling mix of sex, murder, and mystery. Narrator Julia Wilding lives a comfortable, quiet life with her husband and their adopted 13-year-old son, Connor. But when Julia’s sister, Kate, is murdered in Paris, Julia becomes determined to find out what really happened—for her own sake and that of Connor, secretly Kate’s biological child. But soon Julia becomes entangled in Kate’s erotic online life, which stokes her own dark desires. Will she find out what happened to her sister, or will she lose herself in the hunt?

    All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda
    Miranda one-ups all the readers who flip to the end of a book first by starting her tale near the end of the story, and then backing up to tell the whole thing in reverse. Confused? You won’t be once you check out this gripping thriller, out June 28. It tells the story of two young women who go missing from the same rural town a decade apart. Nicolette Farrel left her hometown 10 years ago, after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without a trace. The investigation at the time focused on suspects including Nic and the people closest to her. She’s the only one among them to have left leave their hometown, but now she’s back to care for her ill father. But when Annaleise, Nic’s neighbor and her crew’s alibi on the night of Corinne’s disappearance, goes missing herself, Nic suddenly finds herself thrown into a new mystery, as well as the ongoing mystery of what really happened to Corinne all those years ago.

    Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll
    Knoll’s bestselling debut paints a picture of a woman who has reinvented herself and left a painful, humiliating past behind. But how long can Ani FaNelli go on before her carefully resurrected facade of secrets and lies crumbles? And will it set her free or destroy her? Ani suffered as a teen at the hands of her fellow students at a prestigious private school, but now she’s re-created herself as a writer in New York with a wealthy and handsome fiancé. Then, a documentary about a violent incident at her former school brings Ani’s painful past crashing into her beautifully orchestrated present, forcing her to face some unfortunate truths in this twisty-turny thriller.

  • Ginni Chen 6:30 pm on 2016/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , what to read next   

    What Should You Read in the Year of the Monkey? 

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    Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year, officially kicking off the Year of the Monkey. In the Chinese zodiac tradition, each year holds different things in store for different zodiac signs, and there are always some important words of advice for navigating the year ahead. For example, those born in the Year of the Monkey may be advised to prioritize their health, while others might be wise to take more career risks.

    Since the idea of each zodiac fortune is to help you work on yourself and make the most of what fate has in store for you, we paired this year’s advice with some inspirational reading. Find your zodiac sign below to see what the Year of the Monkey foretells for you, and what book you should read to better your future!

    If you were born in the year of the Rat, this year brings you wealth and wisdom. It’s a good year to seek out a promotion, make that long overdue career change, or commit to buying a house. For a little inspiration, check out Moving the Needle, by Joe Sweeney. It’ll help you make progress wherever you are in life and realize your potential!

    If you were born under the sign of the Cow, this is the year for you to shine and show off your talents. Put yourself out there and don’t be too conservative professionally, socially, and romantically. Need a little push? Try reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.

    Tigers might want to show a little caution and patience in the year of the Monkey. This is the year to learn from past mistakes, to stay calm in interpersonal disputes, and closely examine major life changes. Tigers might want to comb through Mistakes I Made at Work, by Jessica Bacal, to see how past failures can pave the way to future success.

    Rabbits will see their popularity soar as the year of the Monkey enhances their interpersonal relationships. They’ll start to gain recognition in their work life, which may pay off financially, and they’ll find themselves lucky in love. Make the most of your meteoric rise in popularity by perusing Never Eat Alone, by Keith Farrazzi.

    Dragons have a hectic year ahead of them, with many challenges and opportunities for growth. Your social life will be brimming with opportunities to meet new people, including potential romantic partners. Unfortunately, the Year of the Monkey doesn’t leave you with much down time and you’ll have to manage your time wisely. If you need a little help, take a page out of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam.

    If you’re born in the year of the Snake, you’ll be in great physical health this year, but you might encounter some tumultuous times in the area of career and finances. The important thing is to stay calm, don’t overexert yourself, and rely on your intuition when making major decisions. Tap into your innermost thought processes with Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.

    The Year of the Monkey brings a year of hard work to those born the year of the Horse. The good news is that all the hard work you put in will eventually pay off. If you need a reminder that every step counts and your daily routines have a end reward, sit down with a copy of The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

    Those born under the sign of the Sheep are going see a lot of confusing changes in their lives this year. Good things will come if you make an effort, but keep your emotions in check and be careful what you say in the heat of the moment. Happy is the New Healthy, by Dave Romanelli, may be just the book you need for any stressed out moments you encounter this year.

    Monkeys need to take care in the year of the Monkey, because it’s a year of big potential, big changes, and big competition. Watch out for your competitors and make an effort to get along with coworkers, and you’ll make tons of progress towards your goals. To win over the competition, learn from the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

    Those born in the year of the Rooster are going to have to think twice about everything people tell them. You’re going to feel pressure from various people in your life, so you’ll need to figure out who is worth listening to and who isn’t. When the noise from the peanut gallery gets to be too much, laugh it off with The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, by Sarah Knight

    For those born under the Dog sign, the Year of the Monkey will be a time for creative endeavors in every area of your life. This is also a year to be confident and persevere in the face of challenges. When the going gets tough, read How to Fly a Horse, by Kevin Ashton, to remind yourself that sparks of creative genius still take a lot of work to bear fruit.

    If your Chinese zodiac sign is the Pig, you’ll find that the Year of the Monkey brings you the freedom to do what you want and realize your ambition. Nonetheless, make an extra effort to cooperate with others because you’ll go farther with their cooperation and support. Prepare for any awkward social situation with the hilariously entertaining Works Well with Others, by Ross McCammon.

  • Nicole Hill 4:45 pm on 2015/12/10 Permalink
    Tags: for those about to sing along, , musical theater, what to read next   

    What to Read If You’re Obsessed With Hamilton 

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    There’s a new obsession sweeping this country. It wears breeches. It drops rhymes. It’s Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop homage to our first secretary of the treasury. You may not have been able to secure tickets to the full Broadway production, but a fair number of fan-iltons have been forged by near-constant looping of the cast recording.

    Miranda has cited Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow’s detailed biography, as inspiration for his musical, and that book is the obvious place to start if you’re looking to dig deeper after hundreds of hours pumping yourself up with “My Shot.” But what do you do when you’ve finished that? Here are some book recs divvied up by why you love Hamilton.

    If you love the human element of the American Revolution…

    Founding Brothers, by Joseph J. Ellis
    We tend to take a very simplistic view of the Founding Fathers, as if they somehow understood immediately the historical consequences of their actions, as if they instinctively knew the right course. Hamilton turns that image on its head, as does Ellis’s Pulitzer Prize–winning examination of these flawed, fallible men. Ellis applies his laser focus to a handful of monumental episodes of the time (including the Hamilton-Burr duel) and uses this lens to portray the real fragility of the great American experiment, even after its founding.

    Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow
    The man who brought us Alexander Hamilton gives us an equally deep portrait of Hamilton’s chief patron: George Washington. Again, our collective image of Washington is about as nuanced as his portrayal in Disney’s Hall of Presidents. He’s rather lifeless, though revered, in our imagination. In Chernow’s hands, every facet of the first American president springs to life, from his temper to his passions, affording him the three dimensions he (and we) deserves.

    Martha Washington: An American Life, by Patricia Brady
    Let us not forget the ladies. Hamilton sure doesn’t—the Schuyler sisters steal the show on a number of occasions. Brady finally gives a voice to one of the silenced women of the early days of this country: our first First Lady, who, like her husband, is often painted with a rather thick brush. Contrary to popular belief, Martha was vivacious, lively, and worthy of a read all her own.

    Burr, by Gore Vidal
    How do you solve a problem like Aaron Burr (sir)? Vidal expertly unravels that stickiest of founders in the first (chronologically) of his Narratives of Empire series on American history. There’s something classically Shakespearean about the saga of Burr’s life, and that’s good news for you, the reader.

    If you love unusual looks at history…

    Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, by Sarah Vowell
    Vowell’s bread and butter is her ability to find the quirky, under-told stories that matter, which puts the Marquis de Lafayette, the teenaged French general, squarely in her wheelhouse. Lafayette’s presence and prominence in the American Revolution demonstrates the unique, sometimes unbelievable circumstances that allowed the war effort to succeed. Vowell’s voice in telling this story is as wholly unique and soulful as a Hamilton fan could want.

    Revolutionary, by Alex Myers
    Speaking of unusual stories, how about that of America’s first female soldier? Myers’s debut novel explores the life of Deborah Sampson, an indentured servant whose fierce independence led her to the frontlines of the Continental Army in disguise. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, but in this case, the two go hand in hand.

    {ean9}}My Theodosia, by Anya Seton
    Seton’s first novel, published in 1941, focuses on the short life of Aaron Burr’s daughter, Theodosia. As you might have guessed, life’s not easy when you love Aaron Burr, and her loyalty to her father complicates everything for Theodosia, particularly when it comes time for her to marry. Do you take the man your father wants (and needs) you to marry? Or do you throw passion to the wind with Meriwether Lewis? Yes, that Meriwether Lewis.

    How to Fight Presidents, by Daniel O’Brien
    Hamilton demonstrates quite frequently that the Founding Fathers were a brawlin’ bunch, and they wielded more than just the quill. In fact, it’s a common theme among our presidents. O’Brien cheekily informs you how best to stay alive if, for example, you’re ever cornered by a Chester Arthur bent on beating your face in.

    If you love Hamilton’s musical stylings …

    The Rap Year Book, by Shea Serrano
    Serrano, formerly of Grantland, gives the rap genre its historical due by examining what he considers the most important rap song of each year from 1979 to the present. Like any good yearbook, Serrano’s detailed study gives rap context by also highlighting important moments throughout its musical history, including rap feuds, the rise of hip-hop, and the struggles of the genre’s major players. By the end, you’ve got a fully fleshed portrait of rap as an art form.

    Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, by Jeff Chang
    Similarly, Chang has accomplished no small feat in penning the definitive biography of hip-hop, including its solidification of an entire generation’s worldview in the post-Civil Rights era. Of course, the impact of hip-hop is only half the story, and Chang efficiently plumbs the depths of how the musical style reached the forefront in the first place.

  • Nicole Hill 2:45 pm on 2015/08/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , what to read next   

    8 Nonfiction Recommendations for Fiction Fans 

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    We’ve all been there: You finish a book that stole a piece of your soul. Even after consuming sequels, prequels, television and film adaptations, books on similar topics, and erotic or otherwise questionable fan fiction, you still haven’t sated your thirst to know and read more. Have you considered turning to something a little more true-to-life? For the staunch fiction lover, we’ve got 8 awesome nonfiction recommendations based on fictional favorites.

    If You Loved: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
    Then Read: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson
    The indescribable beauty of Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize–winning effort is its humanity. All the Light We Cannot See paints a portrait of World War II through the stories of two young victims caught up in the maelstrom: a German orphan, who by accident becomes a cog in the Nazi machine, and a blind French girl fleeing a plot that ensnares her father. While Larson’s subjects, the first American ambassador to Hitler’s Germany and his family, are somewhat less sympathetic, they do lend human faces to a mind-bending global conflict. I can’t say you’ll like the doddering William E. Dodd, or his firecracker, flamboyant teenage daughter, but their experiences get at the nuance and complexity of a struggle we now see as good vs. evil.

    If You Loved: The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Then Read: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield
    The Martian is a story first of exploration, then survival, as astronaut Mark Watney has to figure out how to stay alive after he’s left behind on the Red Planet. If Weir’s novel and its forthcoming movie adaptation have whetted your appetite for space, do yourself a favor and pick up the story of real-live astronaut Hadfield, who has fashioned himself a social media star with things like his orbital version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” If you want an adrenaline rush, Hadfield obliges, recounting myriad outer-space crises and that one time he wrassled a snake in the cockpit of an airplane. Moreover, he’ll give you a new perspective on your earthbound life.

    If You Loved: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
    Then Read: Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation, by Blake J. Harris
    Ready Player One is the ultimate homage to video games, peppered with in-jokes, loving nods, and references galore as Wade Watts navigates his quest within OASIS, a virtual gamer’s utopia. It also serves as a bit of a history lesson (at least of the ’80s), tracing an arc from Pac-Man and Joust to the fully immersive game environment of Wade’s own time. In Console Wars, Harris gives us a different but complementary history lesson, about that time in the ‘90s when Sega and Nintendo engaged in a David-and-Goliath struggle for the lion’s share of the video-game industry that pitted a blue hedgehog against an Italian plumber.

    If You Loved: Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
    Then Read: Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman
    If you want a true-life companion to McLain’s fictionalized love triangle between aviator Beryl Markham, a roguish safari hunter, and author Karen Blixen, then pick up Out of Africa, written by Blixen under the pen name Isak Dineson. But if you want another tale about unconventional ladies breaking records, then Eighty Days is for you. On November 14, 1889, two young journalists set out to beat Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in fewer than 80 days. Bly took off by steamship, Bisland by train. Their frenzied race against a fictional character, each other, and the world is enthralling, particularly since the pair couldn’t be more different, however trailblazing.

    If You Loved: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
    Then Read: Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Found, by Frances Larson
    If you’re a Mantel groupie, there’s a fair chance you’ve read one of the eleven billion nonfiction accounts of Tudor England (including Alison Weir’s exhaustive The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and of Thomas Cromwell, the true central character of Wolf Hall (most recently, Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, by Tracy Borman). Now I recommend checking out Larson’s tracking of the other most famous aspect of Henry’s reign: all those darned headless people. Maybe you never knew you were interested in the history of decapitation, but Severed is so thorough and fascinatingly macabre in its explorations of shrunken heads, guillotines, and grave robbing that you won’t be able to put it down.

    If You Loved: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien or The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
    Then Read: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski
    Can I get a “duh”? Tolkien and Lewis have long been linked in the minds of fantasy diehards, but the Zaleskis finally give life to the social circle that produced some of the most definitive works of fiction of any century. The Inklings, as the members of this literary club dubbed themselves, formed a veritable salon, hashing out broad cultural ideas and sharing their works with one another. The excellence of the results is undeniable, but the story behind them is equally captivating.

    If You Loved: Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
    Then Read: My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road With Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, by Brian Switek
    If Jurassic Park (and the more recent indie flick Jurassic World) reignited your childhood adoration of dinosaurs, you might relate to Switek’s giddy probing of our fascination with the extinct titans, with a special loving focus on the poor Brontosaurus, whose second extinction came when it was discovered the creature had never existed. Switek litters his expedition with stories of his own life-long dino obsession. It’ll leave as excited as if you found out your self-driving car had an interactive CD-ROM.

    If You Loved: Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson
    Then Read: The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore
    In her new, revitalized turn as Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan has catapulted herself into the role of a heroine for our time. She’s tough, smart, imperfect, a bit of a nerd, and just happens to have these nifty superpowers. Kamala has worked her way into the feminist pop culture canon, and once you’ve experienced her adventures, you should read up on the most popular female superhero of all time: Wonder Woman. Lepore digs into a treasure trove of documents from and about Wonder Woman’s noncomformist creator, William Moulton Marston, whose suffragist leanings were matched only by his personal intrigue. (Bonus: if you still have a hankering for comics, check out Jon Morris’s The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes From Comic Book History, for inside looks at bizarro “heroes” like Dr. Hormone and Brain Boy.)

  • Jeff Somers 3:42 pm on 2015/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , what to read next   

    6 Books to Read Now that You’ve Finished Go Set a Watchman 

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    If you were excited about the long-delayed release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s first novel, chances are good you reread To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation. That’s a long time to be immersed in Lee’s lyrical midcentury South, awash in racial politics and moral quandaries. And now you can’t just go cold turkey on the Southern charm and themes of equality and injustice—that would lead to some ugly withdrawal symptoms. So here are six novels that share some of their soul with Harper Lee’s books, whether it’s the setting and time period, the political issues, or a combination of both.

    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
    With a similar setting (late 1930s American South, Georgia instead of Alabama), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is another one of those rare books that remains as powerful today as it was when published in 1940. The story of a deaf-mute man named John Singer and the five people who connect to him in the lonely small town they occupy, the story focuses on human relationships and how we all see others through the lens of our own needs and desires. It all leads up to a heartbreaking ending that still has cynical teenagers and distracted adults bursting into tears in public to this day. If you read Watchman for the relationships between Scout, Jem, Dill, and everyone else in Maycomb, this is the perfect followup.

    A Lesson before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines
    Set in 1940s Louisiana, A Lesson before Dying explores some of the same themes of Harper Lee’s books—namely, the way African Americans were (and continue to be) treated differently, and unfairly. When a slow-witted black man named Jefferson is falsely convicted of murder, his defense lawyer objects…by telling the jury he’s not a man who could conceive of such a crime, but more like a hog rooting in the dirt. When he’s sentenced to death anyway, his family reaches out to Grant, a black schoolteacher, to help Jefferson die like a man and not an animal. The struggle that ensues through one-hour visits in Jefferson’s jail cell, as Grant tries to convince him of his inherent dignity and humanity, is affecting, angry, and unrelenting. It’s a book about race that leaves marks.

    Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
    Capote and Lee were real-life best friends, and some even question whether he had a hand in Mockingbird. It’s therefore totally appropriate to make this semi-autobiographical 1948 novel your next read. It offers an inverse view of the deep South in the 20th century, one that underscores its lush rot and decadence. Joel Harrison Knox (a stand-in for Capote himself) is sent to live with his father on a sprawling plantation in Mississippi, where a central mystery surrounding his father—who the boy isn’t allowed to see—swirls around a tough young girl, a transvestite named Randolph, and a mysterious “queer lady” who watches him from a window in the mansion. Languid, disturbing, and still shocking to day, this book shows the underbelly of the South while addressing another oppressed class of people completely ignored in most novels.

    Native Son, by Richard Wright
    For a change in perspective, this grim and unrelenting story of race and rage in 1930s Chicago remains a blistering and sometimes difficult to read story. Bigger Thomas is a poor, uneducated black man who finds work as a chauffeur for his landlord’s family. Bigger lives his life in fear of the white people around him, who he sees as a collective force of oppression instead of individuals. Over the course of the novel Bigger does some terrible things, motivated by a combination of rage and fear, but after his conviction and sentencing to death towards the end of the novel he begins to see the world in a different way, and sees a chance to find some peace in himself at long last. Where Watchman is lyrical and thoughtful, Native Son is angry and blistering—and perhaps just what you need to read next.

    Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
    Ellison’s complex novel offers a modernist take on racial politics that requires some surprising twists that sometimes veer toward the symbolic. At its core, it explores the same themes as Watchman from the other side: how can a black man be true to himself when every society he joins already has a predefined, and often denigrating, role outlined for him? The narrator of Invisible Man struggles to find his footing in the world, but is forced into expected roles time and time again, with negative and ultimately tragic consequences. It’s a bracingly contrarian view of race relations in the 20th century.

    Inherit the Wind, by Jerome Lawrence
    This is a play, not a novel, and the perfect coda to a Harper Lee reading fest. It tells the true but fictionalized story of the Scopes Monkey Trial, which saw a schoolteacher arrested for teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee school in 1925. Using the trial as a subtle stand-in for the McCarthy Era of the 1950s, the play wallows in the same languid southern climate as Watchman and underscores the power of one man who believes in the purity of the law, much like Atticus Finch. While Henry Drummond (standing in for Clarence Darrow) loses the case, his passionate defense wins the day in every other way, offering a nice palate cleanse for those of you disturbed by the older Atticus Finch as depicted in Watchman.

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