08.18.10

This Week's Hot Reads

This week: a gripping novel set in the world of international finance, a journalist’s insightful journey down the Nile, Frederick Forsyth’s latest thriller on the cocaine trade, a moving debut novel about lost love, and a culinary history of American beside Mark Twain.

The Garden of Betrayal
by Lee Vance

An international thriller that races through the murky world of high finance.

Vance’s second novel, The Garden of Betrayal, is a pure thriller, with enough personal, political, and financial intrigue to make the stoutest heart race. An energy-industry analyst tracks down his long ago disappeared son against the background of international terrorism and dirty politics, in an ever-twisting book that nonetheless manages to keep both the reader and the plot from becoming tangled. A graduate of Harvard Business School and former partner at Goldman Sachs, Lee Vance knows his subject, and is able to convey the slimy, shadowy world of the energy industry with impressive talent, transporting the reader into the underbelly of society with ease. Described by Booklist as “a skillfully crafted, highly intelligent, page-turning thriller,” The Garden of Betrayal is a timely and engrossing read.

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The Black Nile: One Man’s Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World’s Longest River. By Dan Morrison. 320 pages. Viking. $26.95. ()

The Black Nile
by Dan Morrison

A moving, perceptive account of a man’s trip down the 4,000-mile Nile River.

Dan Morrison, a foreign correspondent and journalist who reported from the war-torn regions of Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, and Libya, has written a masterful narrative of investigative reportage, travel writing, and contemporary history in The Black Nile. Morrison’s story revolves around a trip in which he and his friend travel on a 4,000-mile voyage through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. Along the way, they discover new cultures and environments, getting around by boat, bus, and foot—just as the locals do. In the book, Morrison contemplates the complications and contradictions that make up the region: Darfur’s genocide, local dam projects, religious conflicts. A beautifully written account, The Black Nile is all at once thrilling, sad, and—most of all—thoughtful.

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The Cobra. By Frederick Forsyth. 384 pages. Putnam. $26.95. ()

The Cobra
by Frederick Forsyth

An electrifying novel about America’s fight against the cocaine trade.

Frederick Forsyth’s thrilling new novel, The Cobra, provides a fictionalized account of the trials and tribulations behind America’s $14 billion-a-year fight against the cocaine trade. Paul Deveraux, the novel’s protagonist, is a gung-ho former CIA division leader who heads up an unprecedented operation—along with the help of Cal Dexter, a Vietnam War vet and bounty hunter—to stop the world’s most notorious cartels. Eventually, the pair’s journey leads them to Don Diego Esteban, the most dangerous drug lord in the world. As with so many of Forsyth’s books before, the bestselling author once again combines his keen knowledge of politics with captivating prose. The result: an electrifying take on the war on drugs.

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You Lost Me There. By Rosecrans Baldwin. 304 pages. Riverhead. $25.95. ()

You Lost Me There
by Rosecrans Baldwin

A widower’s journey begins with a startling realization spurred by notes from his deceased wife.

Rosecrans Baldwin’s (named for his ancestor, the Civil War General William Rosecrans) first novel, You Lost Me There explores the fundamental differences we all have, both celebrating each person’s unique mind and exploring the heart wrenching sadness and frustration this can cause. Following a recently widowed scientist’s discovery of his late wife’s perception of their marriage, Baldwin’s novel skillfully navigates the human psyche in this masterful study of love, loss, and self-discovery. Baldwin, a founder of The Morning News, has truly found his footing in this book. At turns revelatory, heartbreaking, and tender,  Entertainment Weekly said it shows “steadying compassion and literary flair in the dissection of miseries.”

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Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens. By Andrew Beahrs. 336 pages. The Penguin Press. $25.95. ()

Twain’s Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

A feast for the mind as we follow in the culinary footsteps of an American legend.

When he was in Europe writing the book A Tramp Abroad, the man most of us know as Mark Twain was missing home dearly. Most of all he missed American food. Compiling a list of near 80 dishes closest to his heart, Samuel Clemens was in sore need of real home cooking. In Beahrs’ book, we take a journey into the nation’s culinary past via Twain’s wish list, exploring some dishes now extinct, rediscovering others, and always staying true to the recipes and ingredients of Clemens’ day. Beahrs, a veteran food writer, writes masterfully about the dishes as he explains their history, preparation, and taste. Sure to make any lover of food and literature salivate, The New York Times called this book “lots of fun” and we say it’s a definite must read of the summer.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.