June 13, 2008, 11:43 am
Filed under: FEATURES

After the meteorological bitch slap we got dealt earlier this week, I think it’s safe to say that summer’s truly arrived. And we know what that means to anyone who’s ever lived through a DC summer before: get the fuck out. I myself am a mere two weeks away from a little shore thing, and already I’m prepped with some flip-flops, some board shorts, and, of course, some summer reading recommendations.

The Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston (with Mario Spezi)

I cracked the cover on this bad boy last night and, judging by the dwindling pyramid of Monsters at my local Borders, so have more than a few other folks. I’ve been known to occasionally frequent and fetishize true crime novels, so I couldn’t even wait till I hit the sand to dive into this one. Not sure I’m glad I did, as I got startled by both the cat and MNJONES more than once last night trying to make it through the first fifty pages; there’s something to be said for sunlight and crowds. I honestly haven’t been this on edge reading a book since I started–and never finished– Zodiac last summer. At one point I seriously considered sticking the book in the freezer.

Preston– author, along with Lincoln Child, of the popular Pendergrast series (Relic, anyone?)– makes reading about il Mostro di Firenze almost too easy: Do severed vaginas great airplane reading make? Based largely on Spezi’s reportage for La Nazione of the serial killer who murdered seven couples in the hills surrounding Florence in the 1970s/80’s, Preston keeps the chapters short, the pace quick, and the hangers cliff (my heart stopped on page 51).

Luckily, for someone who’s honed his craft at The New Yorker and Atlantic, as well as on the NY TImes Best-Seller List, Preston knows how to add just enough intellectual flourish to make his readers feel a little less voyeuristic (hence the sexy and succinct six-and-a-half page history of Florence in chapter three). Furthermore, if his introduction is to believed, Preston himself steps into the story somewhere around the midpoint, once he and Spezi become players– and, in Spezi’s case, a suspect– in the very investigation they’re trying to unravel.

You’ll know where to find me this weekend.

Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith

Think I was trying the hard sell on Monster above? If Child 44 is any bit as tantalizing as the first paragraph of Maslin’s review suggests, losta people are gonna be warming up to Stalinist Russia at the beach this summer.

Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks

Maslin was less enthused about Sebastian Faulks’s entry into the Fleming canon, but with a title miles more decipherable than the upcoming Bond picture’s, a plot that interweaves pharmaceuticals, Iraq, and a girl named Scarlett, and with Mr. Charlotte Gray donning the tux for a day, aren’t you just a tad curious to see how it all turns out?

Nothing To Lose, by Lee Child

There are a few books this summer that have me gagging to catch up with series in media res, and the much loved (Maslin again, natch) Nothing To Lose is one such book. After reading the description, I’m totally ready to go back to the Killing Floor with Jack Reacher. The guy’s name alone kicks me in the face.

From Dead To Worse, by Charlaine Harris

I’m similarly drawn to Charlaine Harris’ From Dead To Worse, the eighth in her “Southern Vampire Mysteries” series. And before you start blabbing “lame” to this staunch defender of all things Buffy, consider that if it’s good enough for Ball and HBO, it’s good enough for me. I’ll definitely be toting this DUD to the beach with me.

The Turnaround, by George Pelecanos

The venerable George Pelecanos– he of Wired infamy– saves The Turnaround for August. There’s not much you need to know about this one except that Walter Reed gets a shout-out in the Amazon blurb, and that if you live in or around DC and have never read one of this guy’s novels, you’re lagging.

The Garden of Last Days, by Andre Dubus III

Getting warmer, getting denser: The House of Sand and Fog scribe imagines one of the 9/11 hijacker’s last days spent at a Floridian strip club. Big ups from Stephen King, not so much from others (guess who?).

When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris

Something funny and mildly controversial to amuse NPR fanatics as they avoid the sun! (Did you get that I’m not that into Sedaris? Did you get that?)

Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores, by Brian K. Vaughan

The final volume of what I very straight-facedly described to MNJONES recently as “the best comic book I’ve ever read” gets published on July 1st. There’s no better place for the end of the world than away from it all.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

O.M.G. I asked you for a book recommendation last night and you said “I don’t know; look at the bookshelves.” Now, you’re full of information on not one, but NINE books for all of the internet. You disgust me.

Comment by mnjones


Comment by kyletm

That’s actually incredibly appropriate, considering one of the taglines that zvh and me came up with for the site: “Don’t tell your girlfriend. Tell the internet.”

Comment by thatjasonguy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: