Barbara's Picks, April 2012, Pt. 1: From Historical Thriller to Big, Bad Debt

Faye, Lyndsay. The Gods of Gotham. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Mar. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780399158377. $25.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORICAL THRILLER
Faye proved herself a capable writer of historical fiction with Dust and Shadow, a deft and beautifully done debut that revisited Sherlock Holmes and the Jack the Ripper quandary. Here she revisits 1845 New York, and the results promise to be just as good. Timothy Wilde, an officer in the newly organized police force, is completing his rounds one night when he encounters a blood-soaked girl claiming to know where plenty of bodies are buried. It’s soon evident that a serial killer is at work, eager to stoke anti-Irish sentiment as immigrants pour into town owing to the Great Potato Famine. I’m betting that this will be an absorbing and chillingly grounded read.

Ball, Edward. The Tycoon and the Inventor: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures. Doubleday. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780385525756. $28. Downloadable: Random Audio. BIOGRAPHY
Asked by railroad tycoon and former California governor Leland Stanford to help prove that at one point a galloping horse’s four hooves leave the ground simultaneously, photographer Eadweard Muybridge invented stop-motion photography‚ the first step on the road to motion pictures. Stanford’s continued patronage didn’t keep Muybridge from going to trial when he killed his wife’s lover, though he was acquitted amid splashy media coverage. National Book Award winner Ball (Slaves in the Family) leaves the South for a work that combines art, science, true crime, and history-in-the-making in rough-and-tumble Gilded Age San Francisco. Now, that should attract readers.

Johnson, Simon & James Kwak. Deluded: Why America Can’t Solve Its Debt Problem‚ And Why It Matters to You. Pantheon. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780307906960. $26.95. eISBN 9780307907127. Downloadable: Random Audio. ECONOMICS
Once upon a time, explain the authors of the best-selling 13 Bankers, the U.S. government could pay off its debt‚ even the huge bills it ran up during World War II. Then came the 1970s, with Reaganism, macroeconomic change, and demographic shifts that spurred the growth of entitlement programs. And then came the recent economic collapse. Add to these factors some intractable political attitudes, and you have a debt that’s very hard to reduce. All of which matters; as MIT professor Johnson and business consultant Kwak aim to clarify, the debt affects us every day. Here’s betting that no one will agree with everything they say‚ and that what they say needs to be heard. With a nine-city tour to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.