Molly May’s Witnesses for the Lamb (2021)

The arrival of new books at the library is always a matter of interest to me. Partially because I consider it research for this blog but also partially because I’m nosy and just want to see what’s new that I might like! A few weeks ago, Mary-Esther pulled this one aside and asked me if I’d heard about it or the crime in question. I hadn’t, but I was intrigued. Thanks to Mary-Esther for the excellent suggestion! This is a fascinating book about a bizarre crime that happened virtually next door to us forty years ago.

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Book Buzz: Beach Reads, the Gritty, the Breezy, and the Literary

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For July, we’re celebrating beach reads of all varieties. Even if you can’t make it to a beach to read them. We’re looking at a haunting true crime story, a suspenseful thriller, a clever romance, an intergenerational family mystery, a new cozy mystery, and some literary fiction set in Hawaii.

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Book Buzz: Inspiring Historical Fiction, Magical Realism Westerns, Arkansas Gangsters, and More

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at WWII fiction inspired by a true story; a magical realism Western that focuses on the Chinese experience in 1800s America; a look at the gangster past of Hot Springs, Arkansas; and a new feature–a monthly spotlight on new audiobooks.

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Your Library Card, Your Ticket to the World: Brazil

Our library theme for 2020 is Your Library Card, Your Ticket to the World–because with the library, you truly can travel around the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Every month in 2020, we’ll be landing at a new place on the globe. In October, we’re in Brazil.

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Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing

One of the more notorious incidents in The Troubles, the conflict between Catholic nationalists and Protestant loyalists in Northern Ireland, is the disappearance of Jean McConville. The widowed mother of ten disappeared one night in December 1972 after she was forcibly removed from her home by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Rumors circulated for decades about what had happened to McConville and why. Murder was hardly uncommon during The Troubles (especially if someone was suspected of being an informant) or frowned upon by the IRA, but disappearances were another matter.

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Book Buzz: Pilgrim Brides, Medieval Amateur Detectives, and Mysterious Relics

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For August, we’re looking at a family saga of romance and American history, medieval murder, and a new look at a very old historical debate, the Shroud of Turin.

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Casey Cep’s Furious Hours (2019)

Furious Hours

Harper Lee is famous for her beloved classic To Kill A Mockingbird-just last year it won The Great American Read and was so universally popular that it always led the public’s voting for favorite book by a wide margin for the entire duration of the vote.

However, Lee is perhaps just as famous for the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird is her only book. Sure, publishers released her Go Set a Watchman a few years ago, but in truth, that was just the very early draft of To Kill A Mockingbird and not a new book.

That’s not to say that Lee never tried to write another book, however.

According to Casey Cep’s debut Furious Hours, Lee worked for years on a true crime manuscript about a bizarre case of murder and insurance fraud in 1960s/1970s Alabama. . . .

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Nita Gould’s Remembering Ella (2018)

Remembering Ella

One of the more infamous crimes in our local area is the gruesome 1912 murder of Ella Barham in rural Boone County, which is just next door to us here in Berryville. I must confess, I had never actually heard of the crime until I read this book. Author Nita Gould has family ties to the case–Ella is a cousin, though one who died long before Gould was born. As Gould quickly learned when she started researching the case, local oral tradition of the case is unreliable and contradictory, so she instead turned to the extensive news coverage of the crime and court files to detail the murder of the vivacious eighteen-year-old and the subsequent arrest and trial of one of her neighbors. Thank you to Julie for ordering this book for me!

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David Carlson’s The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry

The Hunting Accident

Charlie Rizzo has spent his life thinking his father was blinded in a hunting accident as a child. Not that it has stopped his dad from living his life or enjoying one of his greatest hobbies — studying poetic masterpieces of world literature. It’s an unusual hobby to have in their 1960s working-class Chicago neighborhood, but Charlie never suspects anything out-of-the-ordinary with his dad. That is, until Charlie finds himself in trouble with the law. He then learns that his mild-mannered father was blinded in a botched robbery and did time for it in the Illinois State Penitentiary, where he was cellmates with Nathan Leopold. As in, Nathan Leopold of Leopold and Loeb thrill-killing infamy.

I had this book (a nonfiction graphic novel that combines true crime and poetry appreciation) recommended to me recently by one of my undergraduate English professors. I always enjoyed the books I read in her classes, so her suggestions are ones I always try to follow up on. And I was not disappointed. Thanks so much for the great suggestion, Leslie!

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From Page to Screen: Bonnie and Clyde

Jeff Guinn has rapidly became my favorite nonfiction writer. Late last year, I read his excellent book about the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral and then back in May I read and profiled his most recent release, a superb examination of Jim Jones and Jonestown.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I read another Guinn book, his examination of infamous Depression-era bandits Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Mary-Esther has urged me to read it for years–she’s the one who put Guinn on my reading radar–and thanks again to her for introducing me to such a wonderful writer! (Thanks also to my dad for buying me the book. He couldn’t resist reading it himself before he gave it to me, which is just about the best endorsement of the book I can think of. Thanks, Dad!)

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