In the Mail – Serpent Tail Edition

I took a US Open/Father’s Day long weekend. I am going to try and get some reviews posted this week, but for now here are some interesting books coming from Serpent Tail Publishers.

–> Castorp by Pawel Huelle

Publisher’s Description:

Picking up on a throwaway line in The Magic Mountain, Castorp tells the story of Hans Castorp’s student years in Gdansk, long before the adventures in Davos described in Thomas Mann’s novel. Pawel Huelle skilfully creates a credible scenario for this influential period in Hans Castorp’s development, imagining what happened when the rational German student was exposed to the Slavonic eastern edge of the Prussian empire. He comes across people, events and ideas that anticipate some of the encounters he will experience in years to come, including an enigmatic Polish woman who becomes his obsession.

Set at the dawn of the twentieth century, Castorp faithfully recreates the atmosphere of central Europe as the storm began that would lead to two world wars. Beautifully written, full of humour, mystery and eccentricity, this is a moving tribute to a masterpiece of European literature.

–> The Pools by Bethan Roberts

Publisher’s Description:

Middle England, mid-1980s. The kind of place where nothing ever happens. Except something has happened. A fifteen year old boy called Robert has been killed, down by the pools. And half a dozen lives will come unravelled.

There’s Kathryn and Howard, Rob’s parents. Kath has been making the best of her second marriage after the love of her life died young. Howard has been clinging onto a family life he hardly expected to have. There’s Joanna, the teen queen of nowheresville. She’s been looking for a way out, escape from her parents’ broken marriage. She thought Rob might take her away from all this, but lately she’s started to think Rob might have other plans. And then there’s Shane, with the big hands and the backward brain and the fixation on Joanna.

Bethan Roberts’ strikingly assured debut novel expertly reveals the tensions and terrors that underpin apparently ordinary lives, and can lead them to spiral suddenly out of control.

–> Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman

Publisher’s Description:

Crooked cop Joe Denton gets out of prison early after disfiguring the local district attorney, which doesn’t help his popularity. Nobody wants Joe to hang around-not his ex-wife, his parents, or his former colleagues. Meanwhile, local mafia don Manny Vassey is dying of cancer and keen to cut a deal with God. He’s thinking of singing to the DA if this will set him up for a better after life. And he knows stuff that will send Joe down again for a very long time-along with half the local law enforcement.

Set in the pressure cooker of a very small town and following the promise of Dave Zeltersman’s earlier novels (Fast Lane and Bad Thoughts), Small Crimes is an explosive noir that brings the claustrophobic hell of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain right up to date.

–> I was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond

Publishers Weekly:

Raymond’s ( How the Dead Live ) nightmarish and compelling tale, the fourth in his Factory series, explores London’s sordid underbelly, where the law enforcers have to be as brutal as the criminals they hunt. As the novel opens, an ax-wielding psychopath carves young Dora Suarez into pieces and smashes the head of Suarez’s friend, an elderly woman. On the same night, in the West End, a firearm blows the top off the head of Felix Roatta, part-owner of the seedy Parallel Club. The unnamed narrator, a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police’s Unexplained Deaths division, develops a fixation on the young woman whose murder he investigates. And he discovers that Suarez’s death is even more bizarre than g suspected: the murderer ate bits of flesh from Suarez’s corpse and ejaculated against her thigh. Autopsy results compound the puzzle: Suarez was dying of AIDS, but the g pathologist can’t tell how the virus was introduced. Then a photo, supplied by a former Parallel hostess, links Suarez to Roatta, and inquiries at the club reveal how vile and inhuman exploitation can become.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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