This week: a humorous novel about the publishing world, the most intellectually satisfying thriller you’ll read this summer, an Amazonian true story about a fight to save the last tribesman, the biography of the original biz-celeb and tea baron, and a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller featuring torture.
The Thieves of Manhattanby Adam Langer
Langer turns his dark humor on the warped world of modern publishing.
In his new novel The Thieves of Manhattan, Langer takes the reader into the bitter world of struggling (and not very talented) writer Ian Minot. A coffee-shop Kerouac disgusted by the greed of the publishing industry that rejects him, Ian jumps at a chance to reverse his fortunes and beat the publishers at their own game in the process. As a lampoon of the modern book industry, The Thieves of Manhattan is near perfection. With its vicious satire of the culture of celebrity and the loss of principles in the A Million Little Pieces scandal, it makes for an exciting read that will put a dark smile on the face of anyone discouraged by the downward spiral of literature. Against a dynamic New York backdrop, our cynical antihero becomes engaged in an escalating series of escapades, from theft to fraud, before realizing he too has become a part of the machine. As TimeOut wrote, “Langer leaves you with some serious philosophizing on the increasing interchangeability of concepts like truth and fiction in a media-blitz age.”
In Free Fallby Juli Zeh
Zeh reinvents the detective story in her slyly intelligent and enigmatic novel.
In Free Fall is as original a book as you’ll find this summer and Zeh’s skill as a story writer is seemingly unbounded. In a detective story that combines theoretical physics with the usual murder and kidnap, we are introduced to an unusual cast of characters: a pair of physicists whose genius sets them at odds with one another, and a brace of detectives, one a beautiful woman with a trusting nature, the other an accomplished but mentally troubled man. Theory, reality, and the imagination are all interwoven in this most Teutonic of books. Travelling between Germany’s Black Forest, the Swiss Alps, and different realities, In Free Fall requires a certain intellectual vigor in the reader—think of it as the brainiac’s beach read. Publishers Weekly wrote, “Erudite digressions and vivid characters… combine with a devastating 11th-hour reveal to make a memorable intellectual thriller.” We couldn’t agree more.
The Last of the Tribeby Monte Reel
A fascinating account of the fight to save the last man of a Brazilian tribe.
The story Reel tells is as compelling as any featuring Indiana Jones. The Last of the Tribe tells the story of the struggle for survival faced by the last known survivor of a remote tribe in the Amazon. The heroes are modern day adventurers, Marcelo dos Santos and Altair Algayer, who, consumed by the mystery and intrigue surrounding the tribes, dedicated their lives to protecting them. As in any good frontier story, there are plenty of villains to be vanquished—the ranchers and loggers who have declared war on the Indians, corrupt politicians, and sometimes the jungle itself. What makes this story unique is that the lone Indian and the other tribes met along the way are but passive actors with little knowledge of their own fates. Monte Reel makes this story come alive as he shows people caught in the middle of titanic forces that are changing Brazil, a nation forced to make tough choices between tapping its boundless natural resources to fuel economic growth and the preservation of its natural and historical heritage.
The biography of tea baron and original business-celebrity Sir Thomas Lipton.
This story of a Scotsman who was born poor in Victorian Glasgow and ended up a self-made millionaire, adventurer, and sailing legend would seem the stuff of fiction. But Michael D’Antonio has written a bracing biography of the man who can be called the original Richard Branson with his largesse and famous stunts. A charming and popular businessman founded the global tea empire that still bears his name, but Lipton’s unsuccessful attempts to win the America’s Cup, the renowned yachting trophy, were what endeared him to the public on both sides of the Atlantic and made him a true celebrity. A genial man who carefully cultivated his public image without letting ego rule him, Lipton was an innovative businessman, philanthropically minded, and well-liked from the slums of New York to the palaces of Europe, all of which D’Antonio captures with aplomb.
Inside Outby Barry Eisler
A fast-paced thriller that explores the dark side of today’s most controversial political questions.
Inside Out is a thrill-seeker’s book, telling—deep breath—the story of a soldier forced to track down a former comrade who is using evidence of torture stolen from the CIA to blackmail the American government. As a former covert operative himself, Barry Eisler gives us an inside look at the shadowy world of extraordinary rendition, untried detainees, secret prisons, and the culture of torture spawned by them. Perhaps most interesting of all, the story is based on true events: 92 missing CIA interrogation tapes that allegedly included recordings of prisoners being tortured. Eisler’s latest offering doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it certainly pumps it full of adrenaline. As Eisler said in an interview with Britain’s The Independent, “What is bad in America today is good for thriller writers.”