Burmese Lessons, The Third Rail, Plenitude, The Go-Between

This week: a love story against the backdrop of Burmese tyranny, a powerful argument for a new, sustainable economic model, President Kennedy’s love affairs explored in a novel, a gripping account of the hunt for stolen Nazi treasures, and a stylish thriller set in terrorist filled Chicago.

Burmese Lessons: A True Love Story by Karen Connelly

A sensual love story set against Burma’s brutal dictatorship.

Karen Connelly’s award-winning debut novel, The Lizard Cage, earned her comparisons to George Orwell and Nelson Mandela, and her second novel is no less ambitious. Set in Southeast Asia in the mid-'90s, Burmese Lessons is a nonfiction romance set against the backdrop of violence and oppression of Burma’s military regime. Connelly, a Canadian, lived in Burma during the time and witnessed its brutality firsthand. But it wasn’t until she moved to Thailand that she met a Burmese guerrilla warrior and fell in love—and that’s when Connelly truly began to experience the depth of Burma’s struggle. Forced to reconcile her newfound love with the harsh realities of his cause, Burmese Lessons begins as a “charming travel piece,” the Globe and Mail writes, but a “dark, dangerous reality quickly asserts itself.”

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealthby Juliet B. Schor

A leading economist imagines a new, more sustainable economy.

In this eye-opening book, economist and author Juliet B. Schor dissects the recent financial crisis and finds that only a whole new way of thinking will lead us to a more sustainable economy. A “ groundbreaking intellectual statement,” Plenitude rejects traditional talking points on consumer goods, credit, and value, stressing environmentally sound choices and pointing out successful individuals who have struck out on their own path to wealth—from urban farmers to Craigslist users. Publishers Weekly calls Plenitude “fresh, persuasive, and passionately argued, speaking to the individual and the collective.”

The Go-Between: A Novel of the Kennedy Yearsby Frederick Turner

A mysterious diary reveals a sordid story with powerful players.

A down-on-his-luck journalist comes across a shocking discovery: the secret diaries of Judith Campbell Exner, a mysterious and notorious woman known for her liaisons with powerful men from Frank Sinatra to John F. Kennedy. Frederick Turner’s novel “probes notions of power, glamour, and notoriety,” according to Publishers Weekly, as the unnamed narrator delves into the diaries and discovers a seedy world of mob connections and assassination plots. Is Exner a duplicitous seductress or an innocent girl caught up in the wrong crowd? The quest to discover her true identity soon involves the FBI, the mob, and more.

Hitler’s Holy Relicsby Sidney D. Kirkpatrick

A true story of the race to salvage an international treasure from the Nazis.

Part Indiana Jones and part Da Vinci Code, Hitler’s Holy Relics is “a history buff's dream come true,” according to Pulitzer Prize winner Debby Applegate. It’s a fast-paced, adventurous thriller that draws upon the true history of the Nazis, who captured countless works of art and national treasures as they spread across Europe, including the prized crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. Kirkpatrick, a filmmaker and award-winning author, recounts the crusade of a dashing German-American art professor whose mission is to recover the jewels. It’s a riveting historical caper, and it’s all true: Publisher’s Weekly calls it an “interesting footnote to the history of WWII.”

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The Third Rail by Michael Harvey

A private eye is tasked with saving Chicago from terrorists.

The city of Chicago is under siege, with three terror attacks in a single day, and private investigator Michael Kelly is tasked with finding the perpetrators. Full of “pressure plays, cruel surprises, and heartbreaking setbacks,” Michael Harvey plots this suspense novel with “crack timing,” says the Miami Herald. The Third Rail follows Kelly as he edges closer to the truth, leading him through a web of danger that threatens the city of Chicago as well as his own life and that of his girlfriend. With stylish and sophisticated prose, Michael Harvey takes the reader on a whirlwind trip around the city of Chicago in a high-stakes race. His “talent for creating a scene is unprecedented,” writes the Chicago Sun-Times.

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