The Wild Beasts of Wuhan (Book Acquired, 3.21.2013)


It took me a few minutes to figure out the title of Ian Hamilton’s latest Ava Lee novel, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan—something about the font I guess. The book is out this June from Picador. Blurb from Hamilton’s site:

In The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, Uncle and Ava are summoned by Wong Changxing, “The Emperor of Hubei” and one of the most powerful men in China, when he discovers that the Fauvist paintings he recently acquired are in fact forgeries.

Ava uncovers a ring of fraudulent art dealers and follows their twisted trail to Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Dublin, London, and New York. But the job is further complicated by Wong’s second wife, the cunning and seductive May Ling, who threatens to interfere in Ava’s investigation.

Will Ava find the perpetrators and get the Wongs’ money back? Or will May Ling get to them first…


Benjamin Black’s Vengeance (Book Acquired, 3.06.2013)


Vengeance, the latest in Benjamin Black’s Quirke series. From Janet Maslin’s New York Times review last year:

Vengeance” once again leads Quirke into his favorite kind of trouble: “yet another morass of human cupidity and deceit,” involving the deaths of powerful men and the foxy insolence of their glamorous widows. It breaks no new ground.

But why should Benjamin Black tamper with a winning formula? The crimes aren’t graphic or even terribly central. And the detecting questions don’t count for much. The books are far more notable for malaise, atmospherics, sexual chemistry and vast amounts of swirling tobacco smoke and mind-muddling alcohol, without which justice could apparently never prevail.

Vengeance is new in trade paperback from Picador.


Graveland (Book Acquired, 2.28.2013)


Graveland, a thriller from Alan Glynn, comes out this summer. Here’s publisher Picador’s blurb:

On a bright Saturday morning, a Wall Street investment banker is shot dead while jogging in Central Park. Later that same night, one of the savviest hedge-fund managers in the city is gunned down outside a restaurant. Are these killings a coordinated terrorist attack, or just a coincidence? Investigative journalist Ellen Dorsey has a hunch they’re neither, and her obsessive attention to detail leads her to an unexpected conclusion. Days later, when an attempt is made on the life of another CEO, the story blows wide open—and Ellen’s theory is confirmed. Racing to stay ahead of the curve, she soon encounters Frank Bishop, a recession-hit architect, whose daughter’s disappearance is tied to the murders.

Set deep in a shadow world of crooked business deals and radical politics, Alan Glynn’s Graveland is a mind-blowing thriller.

The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories

There’s something fun-but-not-too-fun about James McConnachie and Robin Tudge’s The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, a lovely little coffee-table encyclopedia that investigates everything from the strange death of playwright Christopher Marlowe to the disputed Apollo 11 moon landings to the sinister happenings at Bohemian Grove to the 9/11 attacks. The book is dubious and skeptical in all the right places, yet never snotty or wholly dismissive of the marginalized ideas it presents. Also, none of the lurid tabloid earnestness that marks the work of lifers like Alex Jones or David Icke can be found here (Icke does get his own five paragraph section, however). For the most part, the 450 or so pages of Conspiracy Theories are evenhanded, concise, and well-researched. A bibliography follows each section, and at the end of the book there’s a “Conspiracy Archive” suggesting books, websites, and films for those who can’t get enough paranoia. Conspiracy Theory devotes a good number of pages to recent events like Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War, a choice that will perhaps date the book eventually–but of course, by that time we’ll need a new edition to record all the nefarious invisible acts committed by the Bilderberg Group, NWO, Masons, and, uh, reptilian beings posing as European royalty. Good stuff.

The updated U.S. edition of The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories is available this fall from Rough Guides.