It’s good when you have a few spare minutes and find yourself near a bookstore. In my case, I was browsing at Diesel Books in Brentwood and saw these yummy titles. Can’t wait to dig in.
Lately I’ve been getting up a little earlier than usual so I that I can read a few pages of a good book as I drink my morning coffee. It’s a lovely way to start a morning, assuming you’re into murder and the dark mysteries of the human heart. In the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky – there’s a feast of new books to choose from. I’m making progress on many of these titles and plan to run full reviews in upcoming posts.
“People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry (FSG, $16) A British journalist’s unforgettable account of a true crime that took place in Tokyo in 2000: the disappearance and murder of bar hostess Lucie Blackman, just 21 when she died.
“A Killing in the Hills” by Julia Keller (Minotaur, $24.99) Keller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (Chicago Tribune), crafts a spellbinding murder mystery set in her home state of West Virginia.
“Misfit” by Adam Braver (Tin House Books, $15.95) Braver gives a literary, imaginative rendering of the final days of Marilyn Monroe, who died Aug. 5, 1962 in her Brentwood home.
“The Empty Glass” by J.I. Baker (Blue Rider Press, $25.95) The LA County deputy coroner discovers Marilyn Monroe’s secret diary and starts to probe the sad and sinister details of the star’s death in this first-time novel by a veteran magazine journalist.
“The Twenty-Year Death” by Ariel S. Winter (Hard Case Crime, $25.99) A mystery divided into three sections. Part one, set in 1931, is an homage to the marvelously prolific French author Georges Simenon. Part two takes place in 1941 and honors noir great Raymond Chandler. And last the darkly compelling Jim Thompson gets his due in a 1951 setting.
“Vengeance” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, $26) A Dublin-based pathologist finds himself in the middle of a battle between two families. Noir with a 1950s Irish twist by this Booker prize-winning author (aka John Banville).
“The Thief” by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho Press, $23) The first novel by the celebrated Japanese author to be translated into English, “The Thief” is a minimalist sliver of Tokyo noir told in the first person by an anonymous pickpocket, says Laura Wilson of the Guardian newspaper. As she puts it: “This isn’t for those who prefer the conventional crime novel. It is, however, an intelligent, compelling and surprisingly moving tale, and highly recommended.”
“Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, $27.99) According to Publishers Weekly, Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio have optioned the film rights to this police saga set in Prohibition-era Boston. (Releases Oct. 2)
“Polynie” by Melanie Vincelette (McArthur & Co., $18.95) This novel about a lawyer whose body is discovered in the hotel room of a stripper was shortlisted for a Governor General’s literary award when it appeared in French, according to Quill & Quire. An English-language version will appear in November.
Last week, I was beauty-product happy. This week, it’s all about pages.
Here are my book-buying suggestions and descriptions from their sellers/review highlights.
“Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark” by Brian Kellow, $27.95
Says fellow film critic Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter: “Kellow … writes beautifully and dexterously interweaves the story of a career long-thwarted with a sensitive reading of his subject’s youthful enthusiasm and intellectual growth. … Kellow admirably brings Pauline’s wit, insight and passion to life on the page and has made at least one critic nostalgic for the days when heavyweight critical battles raged and at least one of us lived a life worthy of a biography.”
“The Doll: The Lost Short Stories” by Dame Daphne du Maurier, $15
Writing in Elle, Kate Christensen says of du Maurier (who wrote “Rebecca,” “My Cousin Rachel” and “Jamaica Inn”): “It’s all here: her fascination with the interplay between ingénue and femme fatale, her caddish male characters and the clinging females they devastate, and the inevitable disillusionment of innocence. … The stories are not all equally well realized – a few of them feel more like sketches – but the best ones are astonishingly good.”
“Maigret at the Gai-Moulin,” a novel by Georges Simenon, $8
Belgian writer Simenon (1903-89) published his first novel at 17 and wrote more than 200 novels, many featuring a detective named Commissaire Maigret. Says People magazine: “Maigret … ranks with Holmes and Poiret in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals.”
“Marilyn: Intimate Exposures” by Susan Bernard/Bruno Bernard, $35
Hollywood photographer Bruno Bernard’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate in a billowing white dress is synonymous with Hollywood glamour. Many of the images in this volume have never before been published.
Also includes forewords from Jane Russell, Marilyn’s co-star in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and Lindsay Lohan as well as excerpts from Bruno’s journal and a frameable print. (Next year is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death.)
“Gary Cooper: An Enduring Style” by Maria Cooper Janis and G. Bruce Boyer, $60
The first monograph focused on the timeless fashion and allure of this leading man who was a fashion inspiration to his Hollywood peers, clothing designers and generations of stylish men. Unpublished, never-before-seen personal photographs, shot primarily by his wife Rocky.
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, $55
From Town & Country: “Before there was Daphne Guinness, before there was Lady Gaga, there was the original style setter. A new book takes a look at the career and influence of the woman who made fashion modern.”
Lisa Immordino Vreeland runs her own fashion design and production consulting business. She is the producer of a documentary film about Diana Vreeland, and is married to Vreeland’s grandson Alexander.
“Christian Louboutin,” $150
Red rules in more than 300 pages of the legendary designer’s work. Read more about him and his career here.
“Works on Paper” by David Lynch, $195
A collection of more than 500 drawings, dating from the 1960s by the renowned American film director, offers a unique glimpse into the artist’s creative process.
If you are in the LA area, treat yourself to a trip to Dragon Books, 2954 Beverly Glen Circle, 310-441-8545. There, you’ll find an inscribed first edition of 1984’s “Things I Did … and Things I Think I Did” by director Jean Negulesco (“The Mask of Dimitrios,” “Humoresque,” “Johnny Belinda” and “How to Marry a Millionaire,” along with many others); $150.
Also: a first edition of Don Allen’s “François Truffaut” from 1974, signed by Truffaut; $1,500.