Mary Ann’s Februrary Recommendation

Tinseltown:  Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

tinseltownMary Ann says:  “A true account that starts with movie director William Desmond Taylor shot to death.  The rest of the book tells stories of the actors and producers involved with Taylor in the early (around 1920) movie industry.  They led very wild, sometimes scandalous, sometimes tragic lives.  Who fired the fatal shot?

Includes quite interesting accounts of the production and distribution of the earliest silent movies.”

3 Similar Reads

Crime Beat:  A Decade of Cover Cops and Killers by Michael Connelly – “Connelly, best-selling and Edgar Award-winning writer of the Harry Bosch mystery series, writes about cops, criminals, and cold cases with an authority that stems in part from his first career, as a crime reporter for two newspapers: the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and, later, the Los Angeles Times. This is a collection of 22 of his nonfiction crime stories for those papers. The collection is divided into three sections: The Cops, The Killers, and The Cases.” – Booklist

A Death in Belmont by Sebastien Junger – “From The Perfect Storm to a perfectly horrendous crime: a 1963 murder in Belmont, MA, that mimicked the Boston Strangler scenario. The wrong man-black, of course-was convicted.” – Library Journal

Footsteps in the Snow by Charles Lachman – “It was a shocking true crime that left two families shattered, and became the coldest case in U.S. history. Who really killed little Maria? The question fueled a real-life nightmare in Sycamore, Illinois in 1957. Christmas was three weeks away, and seven-year-old Maria Ridulph went out to play. Soon after, a figure emerged out of the falling snow. He was very friendly. Minutes later, Maria vanished, leaving behind an abandoned doll and footsteps in the snow.” – Summary from catalog


Mary Ann’s December Recommendation

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith*

cuckooscalling“This complex mystery is set in modern London.There are touches of humor, and the dialogue of the eccentric characters from different classes is reminiscent of Tom Wolfe. ” – Mary Ann

*A few months and several favorable reviews later, J.K. Rowling was revealed as the real author.

3 Similar Titles 

Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

The Black Box by Michael Connelly

L.A. Dead by Stuart Woods

June Patron Recommendation – From Kevin

 The Forgotten by David Baldacci

the forgotten“It’s a great book; you won’t put it down!” – Kevin

“Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case-but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida. A picture-perfect town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt’s death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller’s father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be. What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt’s death was no accident . . . and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.” – Publisher Summary

Weekly Spotlight: Gatsby Read-Alikes

May 10th is the theater release of The Great Gatsby (2013) starring Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, the Midwestern War veteran who is introduced to the lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The story takes place in 1922 in Long Island during a time of economic prosperity.

The Great Gatsby is considered a classic novel, and one you’ve no doubt already read in school at some point. If you haven’t, find a copy here.

The Roaring Twenties was known for the growth of jazz, flapper culture, and bootlegging. There are many great books that incorporate the spirit of the times. I have selected a few of those below. Click the title for a link to the record in our catalog. Happy reading!

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

the other typist

“Take a dollop of Alfred Hitchcock, a dollop of Patricia Highsmith, throw in some Great Gatsby flourishes, and the result is Rindell’s debut, a pitch-black comedy about a police stenographer accused of murder in 1920s Manhattan…. A deliciously addictive, cinematically influenced page-turner, both comic and provocative.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Working as a typist for the NYC Police Department in 1923, Rose Baker documents confessions of harrowing crimes and struggles with changing gender roles while clinging to her Victorian ideals and searching for nurturing companionship before becoming obsessed with a glamorous newcomer and her world of bobbed hair, smoking and speakeasies.” -Publisher


 The Chaperone by Laura Moriaty

chaperone“The New York Times bestseller and the USA Today #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer,The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers,  and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’sThe Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.” – Summary

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

perfume collector“Dazzles the senses.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.” – publisher

Z: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler

Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

“With lyrical prose, Fowler’s beautifully portrays the frenzied lives of, and complicated relationship between, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald…This is a novel that will open readers’ minds to the life of an often misunderstood woman—one not easily forgotten.” —RT Book Reviews

“When beautiful, reckless, seventeen- year- old Zelda Sayre meets Lieutenant Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald at a country club dance, he isn’t rich or settled; no one knows his people; and he wants, of all things, to be a writer in New York. After Scott sells his first novel, Zelda defies her parents to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is the Jazz Age, and for Zelda and Scott the future will be grander and stranger than they could have ever imagined.” -Publisher


Martin Dressler: the tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Milhauser

martin dressler“The novel is told as a fable, with prose both lush and dreamlike. The characters are intentionally rather shadowy, while the period details- of building construction, interior design, dress styles, street scenes–have a sensuality so palpable you can practically chew on them.” -The Wall Street Journal

“Young Martin Dressler begins his career as an industrious helper in his father’s cigar store. In the course of his restless young manhood, he makes a swift and eventful rise to the top, accompanied by two sisters–one a dreamlike shadow, the other a worldly business partner. As the eponymous Martin’s vision becomes bolder and bolder he walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry, a sense of doom builds piece-by-hypnotic piece until this mesmerizing journey into the heart of an American dreamer reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion.” – Summary

  • 1996 Nominated National Book Award

  • 1996 Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

  • 1997 Won Pulitzer Prize


The Bobbed haired bandit : a true story of crime and celebrity in 1920s New York

by Stephen Duncombe

the bobbed haired bandit“In 1924, Celia Cooney, a newly married laundress in Brooklyn, found herself unexpectedly pregnant. The Cooneys’ $30-a-week income couldn’t support a baby. So Celia and her husband, Ed, began holding up neighborhood drugstores. In this riveting book, the authors, scholars in history and media studies (Duncombe at NYU, Mattson at SUNY-Old Westbury) reconstruct and analyze not only the crime spree but also the ensuing media frenzy. Savvy newspaper editors knew the story of a girl with a gun would sell; they christened Celia the Bobbed Hair Bandit and made her a star. According to the authors, she stood in for the era’s anxieties about changing gender roles, her bob a symbol of liberated women. Suddenly, any gal with a bob was seen as a potential threat-even Zelda Fitzgerald was reportedly pulled over by cops and questioned. Once Celia was finally arrested, the public learned about her grueling childhood and negligent mother. Editorialists, including progressive pundit Walter Lippmann, then held Celia up as an example of what happened to poor and abused children when society failed to intervene. Duncombe and Mattson’s fast-paced account of Cooney’s story is an absolute winner.” -Publisher’s Weekly Review

One Sunday Morning by Amy Ephron

one sunday morning“Short, light period women’s fiction with itty-bitty chapters and clever twists is Ephron’s specialty (A Cup of Tea; White Rose; etc.). This one is set in 1926 and features New York’s postdeb set, pretty jazz-age flappers with bobbed hair who are either just about to be married or looking hard for a suitable husband at all the smart parties. When Lizzie Carswell is seen walking out of the Gramercy Park Hotel Sunday morning after a big dance at the Waldorf, still in her evening clothes and with another girl’s fiance, it takes no time at all for the scandalized buzz to reach every speakeasy and society gathering in town. That very night Lizzie is snubbed at the opera by absolutely everyone except kindhearted Mary Nell. A corpse turns up is it the guilty fiance, unable to face his future? That little mystery is quickly solved. Mary meets a handsome world traveler who might just be Mr. Right. And then some of the girls whirl off to Europe Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo with predictably unpredictable romantic results. Don’t expect The Great Gatsby (the fashionable new novel that Mary is reading aboard The Paris as she steams off to Paris); expect, instead, a quick, delightful little excursion.” – Publisher’s Weekly Review

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

rules of civility“On New Year’s Eve 1937, at a jazz bar in NewYork’s Greenwich Village, Katey and Eve are charmed by the handsome and successful Tinker Grey. The three become fast friends and spend early 1938 exploring the town together, until a car accident permanently injures Eve. Feeling guilty, Tinker, the driver, takes care of Eve and unsuccessfully tries to love her. Despite the presence and initial impact of Tinker and Eve, though, this first novel is about Katey’s 1938. Eve moves on, and Tinker fades, but Katey, the narrator, stays to challenge the NewYork bourgeois unwaveringly with her acerbic wit, capturing the attention of several doting men. She quits her job as a typist and pursues a career as editor of a respected, if risqué, society magazine. And Katey does it without a handout (she thinks).” – Library Journal


For something a little different: 

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York  by Deborah Blum

poisoner's handbook“Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Blum (Ghost Hunters ) makes chemistry come alive in her enthralling account of two forensic pioneers in early 20th-century New York. Blum follows the often unglamorous but monumentally important careers of Dr. Charles Norris, Manhattan’s first trained chief medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, its first toxicologist. Moving chronologically from Norris’s appointment in 1918 through his death in 1936, Blum cleverly divides her narrative by poison, providing not only a puzzling case for each noxious substance but the ingenious methods devised by the medical examiner’s office to detect them. Before the advent of forensic toxicology, which made it possible for the first time to identify poisons in corpses, Gettler learned the telltale signs of everything from cyanide (it leaves a corrosive trail in the digestive system) to the bright pink flush that signals carbon monoxide poisoning. In a particularly illuminating section, Blum examines the dangers of bootleg liquor (commonly known as wood, or methyl, alcohol) produced during Prohibition. With the pacing and rich characterization of a first-rate suspense novelist, Blum makes science accessible and fascinating.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Dorothy’s January Recommendation

Long Way Home by Laura Caldwell

“I raced through Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him by Laura Caldwell.  A gripping true story of a 19 year old who is falsely imprisoned for allegedly participating in a murder.  He spends 6 years in Chicago’s  Super Max jail with minimal legal representation, all the while proclaiming his innocence.  One fateful day, he comes to the aid of a female defense attorney at Super Max to see a client and she decides to take on his case pro bono.  Even though the outcome of the story was clear to me from an article I read in The Trib, I still was on the edge of my seat as I read about this young man’s unbelievable resolve in the face of his horrific experience.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog.

You can find this book in the library at CALL # 364.3152 CAL



Megan’s October Recommendation

The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

“I recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The book is set in Sweden and follows a journalist as he tries to solve the mystery of a woman who disappeared 40 years ago.  Along the way, he gets help from a genius hacker. The book follows many twists and turns and is very hard to put down.”

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book in the library at Call # FICTION LARSSON

Blaise’s August Recommendation

Something MissingSomething Missing by Matthew Dicks

“Martin, a meticulous thief, gets more involved in his ‘clients’ lives then he ever thought possible in this funny, fast and even a little big poignant read.”

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book in the library at FICTION DICKS in with the new books.