Reported by Garry
We started off this week with the unflinching history of the Secret Service. Zero Fail is the New York Times best-selling expose by Carol Leonnig that documents the rise and fall of the Secret Service, from its inception during the Civil War to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. Hubris, ego, and machismo, as well as administrative negligence were the main failing points that our reader identified as the Achilles heel of the Service. Fascinating and frustrating in equal measures, our reader said that this look at the agency tasked with protecting the members of the highest offices in the nation (and who do so sometimes by sheer dumb luck) is an excellent read and recommends it to anyone wanting a look “behind the curtain” of how our government works.
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is a novel inspired by the true-life disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in the Outer Hebrides in 1900. Re-imagined and set in Cornwall in 1972, the keepers have disappeared from a lighthouse locked from the inside. A table was set for a meal (for two, despite there being three keepers) that was never eaten, all the clocks stopped at 8:45 PM, and the keepers’ log stated that a storm had been raging, even though the weather was clear. Twenty years on, an author visits with the wives of the vanished to try to solve the mystery, exposing and untangling many lies and truths. Our reader found this book to be really interesting and highly recommends it to anyone who likes a mystery along with their historical fiction.
Published in 1955, The Curlew’s Cry by Mildred Walker spans three decades in the life of Pamela Lacey and her ranch on the prairies of Montana. Third generation rancher Pamela is a self-sufficient, headstrong woman who has her sights set on a horizon beyond the ranch. Marrying a rich Easterner, she quickly finds out that marriage is not what she hoped it would be. Returning to her home, Pamela takes over her father’s ranch (uncommon in the early part of the last century) and sets about living life on her own terms. Our reader found this to be a fascinating look at life on the prairies during the tumultuous times between 1905 and 1941. This first-person viewpoint provides not only a feminist look at social structures of the time, but a beautifully written examination of the harsh living conditions on the prairies. Our reader really loved this book and states that the true beauty of the book is the descriptions of the land and people of Montana.
Caravan by Dorothy Gilman takes us to the Sahara Desert in 1914. Caressa is a beautiful young British woman widowed before the age of 20 with the murder of her anthropologist husband. Taken as a slave by Tuareg tribesmen, she must use her wiles and survival instincts, as well as skills she gained growing up in a travelling carnival, to make her way back to Cairo and then home. Our reader says that this 1995 novel is definitely worth reading, and that it may well be better than Gilman’s popular Mrs. Pollifax series.
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Forgotten Pioneer by Harry Golden
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford
Wildland by Rebecca Hodge
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal by Mary L. Trump
Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy by Anne Sebba