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September 13, 2012 Edition

Nameless Dame

Written by Bart Schneider

When detective Augie Boyer decides he needs a vacation, he leaves the snows of Minnesota for the milder climate of California’s Russian River, a place where marijuana is easy to find, religion is brutal, and Augie’s good friend Bobby is celebrating the grand opening of his poetry-karaoke bar. When Augie arrives, he’s unsurprised, but disappointed, to find that he’s landed in a murder investigation. Called on to assist by the local police, he narrows the suspects down to a cannabis rancher. Or maybe it’s the religious right. Or a Russian mobster. It could even be someone he knows. With Bobby, the area’s High Priest of Poetry, spouting poems from Ginsberg, Yeats, and Ignatow, and Augie popping out haikus (the perfect poetic form for the lazy man), this quirky mystery will either beguile with its charms or irritate with its caprice.

Blueprints of the Afterlife

Written by Ryan Boudinot

How can an Alaskan resist reading a book in which the Malaspina glacier has become sentient and devastated population centers throughout North America? Taking current technology trends and running with them, Boudinot introduces readers to open-source nanotechnology, an Olympic-medaling dishwasher whose obese sister is a pharmer for the medical industry, and a replica of New York City – located in Puget Sound – whose residents begin taking on ghost personalities of the old New York City. By turns creepy, amusing, and thought-provoking, this satirical and somewhat disturbing look at a post-apocalyptic world is layered, dreamlike, and compelling.

A Good and Useful Hurt

Written by Aric Davis

Part romance and part thriller with a dash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure, this unusual book is set in a tattoo parlor whose owner is dipping a toe in the trend of tattoos made with cremains. Mike’s not sure exactly why anyone would want to have their loved one’s ashes permanently imbedded under their skin, but his customers tell him the tattoos bring them good dreams of the ones they’ve lost. Despite knowing trouble when he sees it, he hires Deb as his piercer, and she shakes up his life and the life of the studio. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer stalking women in Grand Rapids, watching and tantalizing himself by stretching out the wait. When the threads of the story come together, the result is just, but horrific.

Miss Fuller

Written by April Bernard

On her way back to America from Italy, Margaret Fuller, noted and sometimes reviled author, feminist, and thinker, is drowned in a shipwreck along with her Italian lover and their young son. A strong-minded member of the Transcendentalist movement and friend of Thoreau and Emerson, she had puzzled, irritated, and invigorated her friends for years before leaving the States to work as a journalist and report on the revolutions and reinventions of Italy. Thoreau and Emerson feel it is their duty to collect her body and also hope to find the manuscript she had recently completed. The only body recovered is that of her son; the only writing, a long letter to Sophia Hawthorne that confesses all of Fuller’s adventures and thoughts more candidly than anything she’d published before. Rich and beautifully written, Bernard fictionalizes her characters when necessary, but relies on historical fact whenever possible.

The Mongoliad

Written by Neal Stephenson

First in a trilogy, this massive volume began life as an online serialization/collaboration between the listed authors. Now edited for smoothness and continuity, this weaves different storylines together to tell two sides of the tale of the Mongol invasion of Europe. There is a group of Christian warriors who are determined to stop the Mongol advance before all are slaughtered. And there is the Mongol side of the story, in which Ogedei, one of Genghis’s sons is drinking away the respect of his people, creating a dangerous rift in the Mongol army and an opportunity for the Christians. The authors are members of a sword-fighting group and so they, naturally enough, lavish attention on the blow-by-blows and strategies of the many fights. As with most stories involving the Mongols, a strong stomach is recommended.

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