Read It and Weep

If-Only-It-Were Fiction and Other Best Sellers to Check Out

SHE GETS A KICK: Little did we know just how dangerous it would be, eh? Hillary kicking Trump in the rump on the cover? Maybe the next edition will have a different cartoon.

<b>SHE WHO KICKS FIRST:</b> Maureen Dowd’s The Year of Voting Dangerously equally flays politicians she’s covered for decades.

So what were people reading while observing the birth of the Prince of Peace and/or various other avenues of spiritual uplift? Well, it turns out that man’s inhumanity to man (and woman) still commands our eyeballs.

John Grisham is No. 1 on the fiction best-seller list with The Whistler, a tale of judicial corruption, the Mob, and Indian casinos. Only three murders and an innocent man sits on death row.

Broke after yuletide gift-giving, I clicked on the Santa Barbara Public Library, looking to borrow a copy for a quick fireside read. Huh! Only 270 others ahead of me.

So, as the turbulent year ground to a painful halt, I resorted to my own lurking pile of bedside reading. I confess, officer: I’m hooked on the current darling of bloody murder and mayhem, Tana French.

She probes Dublin’s Murder Squad cops and crimes that beset hard-drinking, hard-loving Irish families. They’re tough on each other, these people, and toss Irish slang around, rough words that you may need a translator to figure out.

There’s love and hate underneath it all, enough to break your heart. I couldn’t put down French’s The Trespasser and Faithful Place (a lane I’ll never forget) and got on the library waiting list for more, anything by Tana French, gory as it is. She can write.

Two bigger-than-life giants caught my eye, books about the mighty Yankee slugger Babe Ruth: The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville (Doubleday) and Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost by Paul Hendrickson (Knopf).

The Hemingway boat bio is about the man and his beloved 38-foot motor boat Pilar and digs into facts about my first literary love, inside stuff I never read before in my longtime collection of his work. This is warts-and-all Hemingway. Sadly, in both cases, these two giants fell hard at the end.

We’ve all heard about the Black Sox scandal of the 1919 World Series, but what really happened? And did a little kid really ask the great White Sox player “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” Jackson has denied it.

Charles Fountain goes into the whole Black Sox mess in a new book, The Betrayal (Oxford University Press).

Hitting the best-seller list is our own Fannie Flagg and her latest, The Whole Town’s Talking (Random House) ​— ​a century of life in small-town Elmwood Springs, Missouri, as only Fannie can write it.

My bedside table also includes our own (yes) Sue Grafton, her next-to-almost-last in the alphabet series, titled only X (G.P Putnam’s Sons). Only two more to go. Then Z-end.

Why does murder most foul sound both worse and more intriguing when the locale is foggy Scotland? New to the bookstores are a couple to delight the armchair blood-thirsty among us.

In Out of Bounds (Atlantic Monthly), Val McDermid’s smart Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie tackles the two-decade-old rape and murder of 24-year-old Tina McDonald. As in Tana French’s Dublin, the slang is dense.

In Plaid and Plagiarism (Pegasus Crime), the scene shifts to Scotland’s Highlands, where a group of women have opened a bookshop. Sound harmless enough? But in Molly MacRae’s tale, a body is found in Janet Marsh’s back garden.

I’m a fan of Scandinavian crime novels, and I found a new one in Kjell Ericksson’s Stone Coffin (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur). A mother and child are accidently-on-purpose run down on a boondock road. But why? Officer Ann Lindell wants to know.

It’s good to see so many successful female whodunit authors. Is it because there’s a flock of women snapping up these bloody stories?

I still haven’t gotten to the pile of unread books I toted home from the last Planned Parenthood sale. Let’s see, there’s David McCullough’s The Great Bridge (Simon & Schuster), a compelling account of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

I can’t wait to dig into Great American Trials (New England Publishing Associates), accounts of dozens of cases from the Salem witch trials to many other milestones of judicial lore.

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