> YOUNG READERS
Flesh & Blood: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin; Alfred A. Knopf, 192 pages ($19.99). Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner; Viking Children's Books, 400 pages ($17.99). Both for age 10 and up.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the notorious New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire that killed 146 workers -- many of them leaping nine stories to their deaths. The acclaimed author of nonfiction books for young people tells the fascinating story, amply illustrated with maps and photos, putting the tragedy in context of the nascent labor movement of the day and of the waves of immigration that made cheap labor available for the new factories that replaced tenement sweatshops. Marrin tells a horrifying true story of life "so cheap," a world where fire safety didn't pay, where factory owners hired thugs to beat up striking workers and locked exits so they could more easily search employees for stolen goods. He offers fascinating profiles of labor heroes Rose Schneiderman and Clara Lemlich and of J. Pierpont Morgan's daughter Anne, who sympathized with and supported the workers' cause, but disagreed with their socialist rhetoric. Photos show workers on the factory floor, families filing past open coffins, the funeral procession that attracted 120,000 marchers. A fictional treatment of the tragedy comes from Esther Friesner, in her vivid portrait of the immigrant experience of 13-year-old Raisa, who leaves her home in Poland in search of her sister in America and ends up on the Lower East Side, working at the Triangle factory the day of the fire. While the ending seems somewhat contrived, the novel brings to life the New York of 1911 and underscores the personal element of the tragedy, of survivors terribly burned and of witnesses scarred by memories.
-- Jean Westmoore
Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith; Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 288 pages ($12.95)
"Dreadfully Ever After" is book three in a zombie trilogy that started with "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which combined Jane Austen's classic novel of manners with zombie movie mania.
In the first book, "Dawn of the Dreadfuls," the Bennet sisters became trained in the ninja arts to protect England from brain-chomping zombie hordes known as "dreadful." "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" was more directly based on the Austen novel. Elizabeth Bennet meets Lord Darcy -- a scion of a notable zombie-battling clan -- they fall in love and marry.
"Dreadfully Ever After" takes up the story four years after the wedding. Darcy worries that his wife is dissatisfied with him; she is reluctant to admit that she's not interested in having children and wants to go back to fighting.
All this is forgotten when Darcy is bitten by a zombie, dooming him to hunger for bloody flesh and oozing brains as he slowly rots away. Elizabeth and her sisters go to London in search of an antidote while Darcy's aunt, fearsome zombie killer Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and her daughter Anne try to keep Darcy as human as they can until Elizabeth returns with a miracle.
Toss in a royal coronation, a partitioned London with zombie-filled and zombie-free zones, various crazed aristocrats and a "Man in a Box" who has a history with the Bennets, and you have a romp of a Regency romance laced with graphic descriptions of meals unfit for human consumption.
-- McClatchy Newspapers
The Troubled Man: A Kurt Wallander Novel by Henning Mankell; Alfred A. Knopf, 369 pages ($26.95)
Author Henning Mankell has let it be known that "The Troubled Man," his 10th mystery featuring dour Swedish police detective Kurt Wallender, will probably be his last.
With "The Troubled Man," Mankell enters John le Carre territory. Not only does it widen the scope of the detective's investigations into the world of international geopolitics, it is a work of genuine heft and substance, a melancholy, elegiac book that is thoughtful and perceptive about memory, regret and the unfathomability of human nature.
A fallible and out-of-shape loner who is prone to catching colds and drinking too much, Wallander is often put-upon and overworked. Though an investigator of formidable instinct and intuition, his real advantage is his painstaking doggedness.
Wallander has made a move to a house in the country. He learns that he's going to be a grandfather. While daughter Linda is in no hurry to be married, she is moving in with the father, Hans von Enke, a serious young man who makes his living in the precarious world of hedge funds.
Wallander is invited to a 75th birthday party for Han's father, Hakan von Enke, a former commander in the Swedish navy, and the two end up talking about a celebrated 1982 event involving a foreign submarine that had been trapped in Swedish territorial waters, only to somehow escape. Wallander's instincts tell him that the distinguished future father-in-law is scared.
So the detective is not as shocked as he otherwise would be when Hakan von Enke disappears without a trace, "the nearest thing you can get to going up in smoke."
Though not an official member of the investigating team, Wallander's family connection and natural inclinations draw him deeper and deeper into this increasingly murky incident.
-- Los Angeles Times