This week, the new Tana French novel, a razor-sharp serial killer thriller, and a memoir from Winston Churchill's daughter. Plus: inside the Wall Street bailout.
Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by Neil Barofsky (Free Press) - In 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, Barofsky gave up his job as a prosecutor for the position of special inspector general in charge of overseeing the spending of bailout money. From day one, his efforts to protect against fraud were met with hostility from Treasury officials. In Bailout, he gives a detailed account of just how far-reaching, and how much, the corruption spread.
Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia by Alexander Cooley (Oxford University Press) - The nineteenth century struggle between Russia and Great Britain for Central Asia was the original "great game" but, Cooley argues, the new "great game" pits America vs. Russia vs. China in a battle for dominance in the same region. The new wrinkle in the modern "great game" is that Central Asian governments have proven they're forces to be reckoned with, resulting in a region of segmented states. Cooley's book explores how these small states interact with great powers.
Broken Harbor by Tana French (Viking) - Edgar-winner French's eloquently slow-burning fourth Dublin murder squad novel shows her at the top of her game. In a half-built luxury development near Dublin, a family of four is attacked and left for dead, with only the mother clinging to life. For Det. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, introduced in 2010’s Faithful Place, this is a case that makes—or breaks—a career. With his new rookie partner, Det. Richie Curran, Mick arrives soon after Patrick Spain and his two children, six-year-old Emma and three-year-old Jack, are discovered stabbed to death in their home, while mother Jennifer is taken to the hospital. The house, one of the few completed in the Brianstown development, is a bloody mess, and suspicion immediately falls on Patrick, who recently lost his job. As usual, French really excels at drawing out complex character dynamics. Check out French's five writing tips, including killing that dream sequence you've been clinging to.
A Daughter’s Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill’s Youngest Child by Mary Soames (Random) - Churchill’s youngest daughter (born in 1922) reflects on fond memories of the famous British prime minister and on her own role in a heavy antiaircraft battery unit during WWII. Soames (Clementine Churchill) remembers her doting father and socially distracted mother as she grew from much wanted baby into early adulthood, culminating in her wedding after previous short-lived engagements. Thanks to her personal diaries and unpublished letters, Soames recreates with specificity some amusing scenes, casually dropping names like Charlie Chaplin and Lawrence of Arabia, and also commenting on the great man who, while building his power structure in government, was unable to house-train the family’s beloved dog.
Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon (Crown) - The third Dave Gurney whodunit is a breakneck, knockout ride. Gurney, dubbed “the NYPD Supercop” by the media for his phenomenal homicide clearance rate, once again can’t resist the opportunity to match wits with a brilliant murderer—in this case, the self-named “the Good Shepherd,” the subject of a reality TV project that a journalist asks his help on. Never identified, the Good Shepherd struck six times in the Syracuse area a decade earlier, targeting drivers of black Mercedes as part of his crusade against the wealthy. Gurney takes an iconoclastic approach to the cold case while tackling other, possibly unrelated investigations. The tension is palpable on virtually every page of a story that perfectly balances the protagonist’s complex inner life with an elaborately constructed puzzle. Read Verdon's essay on our fascination with serial killers.