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      In This Issue
  August 2008







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    Dear Readers,

Contemporary Chicago comes to life in Michael Harvey's sizzling follow-up to The Chicago Way. The Fifth Floor opens with a murder in present-day Chi-town and winds its way back to Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

When PI Michael Kelly is hired by an ex-flame to tail her abusive husband, he expects trouble of a domestic rather than a historical nature. Life, however, is not so simple. The trail leads Kelly to an old house on Chicago's North Side. Inside it, the private investigator finds a body and, perhaps, the answer to one of Chicago's most enduring mysteries: who started the Great Chicago Fire and why. The ensuing investigation takes Kelly to places he'd rather not go, specifically, City Hall's fifth floor, where the mayor is feeling the heat and looking to play for keeps. Ultimately, Kelly finds himself in a world where nothing is quite what it seems, face-to-face with a killer bent on rewriting history and staring down demons from a past he never knew he had.

Erik Larson, author of The Devil In the White City praises The Fifth Floor as "the perfect Chicago detective story, complete with a loving tour of the city's funkier locales that'll make any displaced Chicagoan long for home."

Intrigued? Click here to read an excerpt—or plunge right into this mystery by ordering your copy online.

Happy reading,

Pam Cortland


"I was swept away by Domnica Radulescu's debut novel. It's at once a haunting journey to a faraway country, beautiful and terrifying, and an odyssey straight to the heart of a young girl and the remarkable woman she becomes. Deeply moving and deeply felt, Train to Trieste is an unforgettable story that introduces a new and astonishingly fresh voice."
—Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

Train to Trieste is an incandescent love story that moves from Romania to America, from the Carpathian Mountains to Chicago, from totalitarianism to freedom, and from passionate infatuation to profound understanding.

In the summer of 1977, seventeen-year-old Mona Manoliu falls in love with Mihai, a mysterious, green-eyed boy who lives in Brasov, the romantic mountain city where she spends her summers. She can think of nothing, and no one, else. But life under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu is difficult. Hunger and paranoia infect everyone; fear, too. And one day, Mona sees Mihai wearing the black leather jacket favored by the secret police. Could he be one of them?

As food shortages worsen, as more and more of her loved ones disappear in "accidents," Mona comes to understand that she must leave Romania. She escapes in secret—narrowly avoiding the police—through Yugoslavia to Italy, and then to Chicago, a city she calls "fit for my hunger." But she leaves without saying a final good-bye to Mihai. And though she struggles to bury her longing for the past—she becomes a doctoral student, marries, has children—she finds herself compelled to return to her country, determined to learn the truth about her one great love.

Seductive, suspenseful, intensely evocative, and told in an astonishingly original, poetic voice, Train to Trieste is a force of language and emotion, as acutely observed as it is impossible to put down.

Read an excerpt
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Richard Fortey—one of the world's most gifted natural scientists and acclaimed author of Life, Trilobite and Earth—describes this splendid new book as a museum of the mind. But it is, as well, a perfect behind-the-scenes guide to a legendary place. Within its pages, London's Natural History Museum, a home of treasures—plants from the voyage of Captain Cook, barnacles to which Charles Darwin devoted years of study, hidden accursed jewels—pulses with life and miraculous surprises.

In an elegant and illuminating narrative, Fortey acquaints the reader with the extraordinary people, meticulous research and driving passions that helped to create the timeless experiences of wonder that fill the museum. And with the museum's hallways and collection rooms providing a dazzling framework, Fortey offers an often eye-opening social history of the scientific accomplishments of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Fortey's scholarship dances with wit. Here is a book that is utterly entertaining from its first page to its last.

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From our sister company, The Dial Press:

"Every once in a while—if you are very lucky—you come upon a novel so marvelous and enchanting and rare that you wish everyone in the world would read it, as well. The Good Thief is just such a book—a beautifully composed work of literary magic."
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Richly imagined, gothically spooky, and replete with the ingenious storytelling ability of a born novelist, The Good Thief introduces one of the most appealing young heroes in contemporary fiction and ratifies Hannah Tinti as one of our most exciting new talents. "One of the freshest, most beguiling narratives this side of Oliver Twist."—O Magazine

Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony's Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world.

But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren's long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he's lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.

Read an excerpt
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  Click on the books below to read excerpts, author interviews, and more.

New Fiction & Poetry
Leather Maiden by Joe R. Lansdale
A Blessed Child by Linn Ullmann
The Border Kingdom by D. Nurske

New Nonfiction
White Heat by Brenda Wineapple
Freedom's Battle by Gary J. Bass
Dangerous Business by Pat Choate

Click here to view all new releases




"Kathryn Walker's beautifully written story of parallel discovery and restoration is powered by searing insights into the costs of love and loss...The results are joyous."
—Amy Hempel, author of Reasons to Live and The Dog of the Marriage

A Stopover in Venice is an enchanting debut novel—a fairy tale of sorts.

The time is the present. The novel opens on a train en route to Verona. A young American woman is on an Italian tour with her famous musician husband. In a moment of fury and despair at their lifeless marriage, she drags down a piece of her luggage and gets off the train in the countryside. Marooned and on her own for the first time in eight years, she returns to Venice, gets a room at the Hotel Gritti Palace, sets out to explore the city, and chances on a group of boys tormenting a small dog, which she rescues and smuggles into the hotel.

The following day she is accosted by a man who claims that the dog belongs to his employer. Reluctantly she follows him to a Gothic palazzo and to the dog's owner, an elderly contessa. The young woman becomes faint. The contessa insists that she stay the night...

What started off as an impulsive act of defiance opens out into an adventure—and a mystery—that summons up centuries of the Venetian past, the discovery of a lost masterpiece, and the heroine's reclamation of herself.

An excerpt from A Stopover in Venice:

Watching the train roll out of the station, picking up speed, it occurred to me that I had been impetuous. Disappearing down the track, within that train, were the only human beings of my acquaintance in northern Italy—in all of Italy, for that matter, if you didn't count Guido, the ingratiating concierge briefly known at our hotel. My husband and his band of not entirely merry men were speeding away to Verona, to Milano, to Bologna, on and on until they would arrive in Roma, the Eternal City, in several weeks' time.

And where was I?

There was no sign that I could see on the narrow platform. It was, I think, the second stop the train had made since leaving Venice. Venezia the beautiful, the sinister, the enchanting city of water and light. Venice, the place I had not remotely experienced in the days I had just spent there. That's how the argument must have started. My regrets. My regrets dismissed and so on, until I found myself there, outside the train.

And the argument? I couldn't remember. It hardly mattered, whatever it was, it was the same thing. It's true, isn't it, that the long dispute that is marriage, for the unlucky anyway, loses its energy after a few years of failing to reveal much to anyone? It loses its optimism, its hope of revelation; the whole thing dissolves into a miasmic pall, a kind of weather. A miserable way to live. The damp penetrates the spaces between, then gathers and rains down the usual resentments, barely spoken, of no particular interest to anyone. Neither party seems to retain much apparent hope or regret, and that in itself is unbearable. So I couldn't remember how it started, the blank amnesia of low-level numb despair brought on by these events. We spoke probably; few words are necessary. I do remember the familiar sensation of gloom rising and the awful visceral sense of entrapment that I feel in that sullen climate, as if my body is trying to conceal itself in back of itself. Also the certain knowledge that there would be no help found in the present company. Encircling doom. I would sit in a bitter fog for however long it took to get to Verona. Lovely Verona, no doubt. Encountered in misery. One more unexperienced destination.

Then something unusual happened. I stood up, stepped over my husband's long legs, not particularly carefully, dragged down whatever piece of my luggage was stashed above our seats, and got off the train.

Keep reading this excerpt
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