A crime book recommendation: Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle S. Allen

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2DpwFIG.
Among the most valuable contributions Allen makes is forcing us to ask: To what end are we locking up our children? Are we not foreclosing their options before their lives have even begun?
Book description from Google Books:
In a shattering work that shifts between a woman’s private anguish over the loss of her beloved baby cousin and a scholar’s fierce critique of the American prison system, Danielle Allen seeks answers to what, for many years, felt unanswerable. Why? Why did her cousin, a precocious young man who dreamed of being a firefighter and a writer, end up dead? Why did he languish in prison? And why, at the age of fifteen, was he in an alley in South Central Los Angeles, holding a gun while trying to steal someone’s car?Cuz means both “cousin” and “because.” In this searing memoir, Allen unfurls a “new American story” about a world tragically transformed by the sudden availability of narcotics and the rise of street gangs–a collision, followed by a reactionary War on Drugs, that would devastate not only South Central L.A. but virtually every urban center in the nation. At thirteen, sensitive, talkative Michael Allen was suddenly tossed into this cauldron, a violent world where he would be tried at fifteen as an adult for an attempted carjacking, and where he would be sent, along with an entire generation, cascading into the spiral of the Los Angeles prison system.Throughout her cousin Michael’s eleven years in prison, Danielle Allen–who became a dean at the University of Chicago at the age of thirty-two–remained psychically bonded to her self-appointed charge, visiting Michael in prison and corresponding with him regularly. When she finally welcomed her baby cousin home, she adopted the role of “cousin on duty,” devotedly supporting Michael’s fresh start while juggling the demands of her own academic career.As Cuz heartbreakingly reveals, even Allen’s devotion, as unwavering as it was, could not save Michael from the brutal realities encountered by newly released young men navigating the streets of South Central. The corrosive entanglements of gang warfare, combined with a star-crossed love for a gorgeous woman driving a gold Mercedes, would ultimately be Michael’s undoing.In this Ellisonian story of a young African American man’s coming-of-age in late twentieth-century America, and of the family who will always love Michael, we learn how we lost an entire generation.
The book is rated 3.49/5 at goodreads.com, from 276 ratings. See 60 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CW2rvZ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CUPmmA.

A crime book recommendation: Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle S. Allen

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2DpwFIG.
Among the most valuable contributions Allen makes is forcing us to ask: To what end are we locking up our children? Are we not foreclosing their options before their lives have even begun?
Book description from Google Books:
In a shattering work that shifts between a woman’s private anguish over the loss of her beloved baby cousin and a scholar’s fierce critique of the American prison system, Danielle Allen seeks answers to what, for many years, felt unanswerable. Why? Why did her cousin, a precocious young man who dreamed of being a firefighter and a writer, end up dead? Why did he languish in prison? And why, at the age of fifteen, was he in an alley in South Central Los Angeles, holding a gun while trying to steal someone’s car?Cuz means both “cousin” and “because.” In this searing memoir, Allen unfurls a “new American story” about a world tragically transformed by the sudden availability of narcotics and the rise of street gangs–a collision, followed by a reactionary War on Drugs, that would devastate not only South Central L.A. but virtually every urban center in the nation. At thirteen, sensitive, talkative Michael Allen was suddenly tossed into this cauldron, a violent world where he would be tried at fifteen as an adult for an attempted carjacking, and where he would be sent, along with an entire generation, cascading into the spiral of the Los Angeles prison system.Throughout her cousin Michael’s eleven years in prison, Danielle Allen–who became a dean at the University of Chicago at the age of thirty-two–remained psychically bonded to her self-appointed charge, visiting Michael in prison and corresponding with him regularly. When she finally welcomed her baby cousin home, she adopted the role of “cousin on duty,” devotedly supporting Michael’s fresh start while juggling the demands of her own academic career.As Cuz heartbreakingly reveals, even Allen’s devotion, as unwavering as it was, could not save Michael from the brutal realities encountered by newly released young men navigating the streets of South Central. The corrosive entanglements of gang warfare, combined with a star-crossed love for a gorgeous woman driving a gold Mercedes, would ultimately be Michael’s undoing.In this Ellisonian story of a young African American man’s coming-of-age in late twentieth-century America, and of the family who will always love Michael, we learn how we lost an entire generation.
The book is rated 3.49/5 at goodreads.com, from 275 ratings. See 59 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CW2rvZ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CUPmmA.

A crime book recommendation: The Day Will Pass Away: The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard: 1935-1936 by Ivan Chistyakov

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CGVD62.
The translation by Arch Tait is adroit and haunting, without adding excess literary polish to Chistyakov’s journal. An introduction by Irina Shcherbakova of the human rights organization Memorial provides historical context for readers unfamiliar with the gulag.
Book description from Google Books:
A rare first-person testimony of the hardships of a Soviet labor camp—long suppressed—that will become a cornerstone of understanding the Soviet Union. Originally written in a couple of humble exercise books, which were anonymously donated to the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow, this remarkable diary is one of the few first-person accounts to survive the sprawling Soviet prison system. At the back of these exercise books there is a blurred snapshot and a note, “Chistyakov, Ivan Petrovich, repressed in 1937-38. Killed at the front in Tula Province in 1941.” This is all that remains of Ivan Chistyakov, a senior guard at the Baikal Amur Corrective Labour Camp. Who was this lost man? How did he end up in the gulag? Though a guard, he is a type of prisoner, too. We learn that he is a cultured and urbane ex-city dweller with a secret nostalgia for pre-Revolutionary Russia. In this diary, Chistyakov does not just record his life in the camp, he narrates it. He is a sharp-eyed witness and a sympathetic, humane, and broken man. From stumblingly poetic musings on the bitter landscape of the taiga to matter-of-fact grumbles about the inefficiency of his stove, from accounts of the brutal conditions of the camp to reflections on the cruelty of loneliness, this diary is an astonishing record—a visceral and immediate description of a place and time whose repercussions still affect the shape of modern Russia, and modern Europe.
The book is rated 4.11/5 at goodreads.com, from 9 ratings. See 3 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CFuL6b.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ChkiwZ.

A crime book recommendation: A Promise to Kill: A Clyde Barr Novel by Erik Storey

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CJEJno.
Last year his “Nothing Short of Dying” was widely hailed as the best debut novel in the mystery/crime/thriller genre and his second book released this week equals — some of us will say surpasses — his impressive first.
Book description from Google Books:
From the author dubbed by Jeffery Deaver “a born storyteller” whose first novel Nothing Short of Dying was hailed as “exceptional,” “a rollercoaster read,” and “adrenaline-fueled” by publications on both sides of the Atlantic, this is Erik Storey’s next entry in the Clyde Barr series, a locomotive-paced brawler that has its hero teaming with besieged members of a Native American reservation to thwart outlaw bikers who are putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.Clyde Barr, the drifter with lethal skills, is alone again, wandering the highways of the American West in search of something to believe in. As summer turns to autumn, he trades his car for a horse and heads for the mountains, planning to clear his head and regain his edge with some hunting. But when he runs across an elderly sick man—a Ute Indian from a nearby reservation—Clyde’s dream of solitude is quickly dashed. On the reservation, Clyde finds the old man’s daughter, Lawana, and grandson, Taylor, as well as a group of menacing bikers called Reapers running wild in the economically depressed, half-abandoned village. Gripped by the desire to do good in a hard world, Clyde offers to stay on Lawana’s ranch to help out until her father is released from the hospital. He controls himself around the bikers, even when he sees them harass a few Native American women—but when the Reapers attack a local boy Clyde has to do something. As tensions rise between the locals and the Reapers, Clyde’s efforts to protect the reservation become a fight for his, Lawana’s, and Taylor’s lives. And then the stakes ratchet up even more. In the remote Utah desert, surrounded by enemies, with no law enforcement presence, and with communication effectively cut off, Clyde must find a way to save his new friends, defeat the gang, and, hopefully, escape with his own skin intact. A Promise to Kill is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, pushing its no-hold-barred hero to new levels of improvisation and bare-knuckled blunt force.
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 146 ratings. See 32 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Ce383d.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Cj9KNT.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A crime book recommendation: Safe: A Novel by Ryan Gattis

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CNkFQX.
Through multiple definitions of the word “safe” – physical, emotional, psychological, financial – Gattis has created a gripping novel about opportunity, transformation and hope.
Book description from Google Books:
“Safe is a propulsive thriller that confirms Ryan Gattis as one of our most gifted novelists.” —Michael Connelly, author of The Wrong Side of GoodbyeRyan Gattis’ gritty, fast-paced thriller, Safe, hurtles readers toward a shocking conclusion that asks the toughest question of all: how far would you go to protect the ones you love?Ricky ‘Ghost’ Mendoza, Jr. is trying to be good. In recovery and working as a freelance safecracker for the DEA, the FBI, and any other government agency willing to pay him, Ghost is determined to live clean for the rest of his days. And maybe he could, if the most important person in his life hadn’t gotten into serious financial trouble. To fix it, all Ghost has to do is crack a safe and steal drug money from under the noses of the gangs and the Feds without getting caught. Or killed.Rudy ‘Glasses’ Reyes runs drugs and cleans up messes for the baddest of bad men. When Ghost hits one of his safes, Glasses must hunt him down or be held accountable. But Glasses is worried about more than just money. The heist puts everything in his life at risk—his livelihood, his freedom, even his family.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 2 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CocM3a.

A crime book recommendation: The Shape of Bones: A Novel by Daniel Galera

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CHBT1Z.
Beautifully translated by Alison Entrekin, Galera’s novel is a powerful evocation of one man’s rough, reckless childhood and his efforts to break free and give in to his desire “to take on and be taken on by the world.”
Book description from Google Books:
“A book of visceral and tender beauty whose echoes persist long after the final page.” –David Mitchell, author of The Bone Clocks A coming of age tale of brutal beauty and disarming tenderness from one of Brazil’s most exciting young novelists, an author writing in the footsteps of “Roberto Bola�o, Jim Harrison, the Coen brothers and…Denis Johnson” (The New York Times) A young man wakes up at dawn to drive to the Andes, to climb the Cerro Bonete–a mountain untouched by ice axes and climbers, one of the planet’s final mountains to be conquered–as an act of heroic bravado, or foolishness. But instead, he finds himself dragged, by the undertow of memory, to Esplanada, the neighborhood he grew up in, to the brotherhood of his old friends, and to the clearing in the woods where he witnessed an act that has run like a scar through the rest of his life. Back in Esplanada, the young man revisits his initiation into adulthood and recalls his boyhood friends who formed a strange and volatile pack. Together they play video games, get drunk around bonfires, pick fights, and goad each other into bike races where the winner is the boy who has the most spectacular crash. Caught between the threat of not being man enough, the desire to please his friends, and the intoxicating contact-high of danger, the boy finds himself following the rules of the pack even as the risks mount. And in a moment that reverberates and repeats itself in new ways in his adulthood, his fantasies of who he is and what it means to be a man come crashing down, and life asserts itself as an endless rehearsal for a heroic moment that may never arrive. From one of Brazil’s most dazzling writers, The Shape of Bones is an exhilarating story of mythic power. Daniel Galera has written a pulse-racing novel with the otherworldly wisdom of a parable.
The book is rated 3.78/5 at goodreads.com, from 445 ratings. See 48 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CfTLjB.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CfU267.

A crime book recommendation: The Shape of Bones: A Novel by Daniel Galera

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CHBT1Z.
Beautifully translated by Alison Entrekin, Galera’s novel is a powerful evocation of one man’s rough, reckless childhood and his efforts to break free and give in to his desire “to take on and be taken on by the world.”
Book description from Google Books:
“A book of visceral and tender beauty whose echoes persist long after the final page.” –David Mitchell, author of The Bone Clocks A coming of age tale of brutal beauty and disarming tenderness from one of Brazil’s most exciting young novelists, an author writing in the footsteps of “Roberto Bola�o, Jim Harrison, the Coen brothers and…Denis Johnson” (The New York Times) A young man wakes up at dawn to drive to the Andes, to climb the Cerro Bonete–a mountain untouched by ice axes and climbers, one of the planet’s final mountains to be conquered–as an act of heroic bravado, or foolishness. But instead, he finds himself dragged, by the undertow of memory, to Esplanada, the neighborhood he grew up in, to the brotherhood of his old friends, and to the clearing in the woods where he witnessed an act that has run like a scar through the rest of his life. Back in Esplanada, the young man revisits his initiation into adulthood and recalls his boyhood friends who formed a strange and volatile pack. Together they play video games, get drunk around bonfires, pick fights, and goad each other into bike races where the winner is the boy who has the most spectacular crash. Caught between the threat of not being man enough, the desire to please his friends, and the intoxicating contact-high of danger, the boy finds himself following the rules of the pack even as the risks mount. And in a moment that reverberates and repeats itself in new ways in his adulthood, his fantasies of who he is and what it means to be a man come crashing down, and life asserts itself as an endless rehearsal for a heroic moment that may never arrive. From one of Brazil’s most dazzling writers, The Shape of Bones is an exhilarating story of mythic power. Daniel Galera has written a pulse-racing novel with the otherworldly wisdom of a parable.
The book is rated 3.79/5 at goodreads.com, from 444 ratings. See 47 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CfTLjB.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CfU267.

A crime book recommendation: The Day Will Pass Away: The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard: 1935-1936 by Ivan Chistyakov

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CGVD62.
The translation by Arch Tait is adroit and haunting, without adding excess literary polish to Chistyakov’s journal. An introduction by Irina Shcherbakova of the human rights organization Memorial provides historical context for readers unfamiliar with the gulag.
Book description from Google Books:
A rare first-person testimony of the hardships of a Soviet labor camp—long suppressed—that will become a cornerstone of understanding the Soviet Union. Originally written in a couple of humble exercise books, which were anonymously donated to the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow, this remarkable diary is one of the few first-person accounts to survive the sprawling Soviet prison system. At the back of these exercise books there is a blurred snapshot and a note, “Chistyakov, Ivan Petrovich, repressed in 1937-38. Killed at the front in Tula Province in 1941.” This is all that remains of Ivan Chistyakov, a senior guard at the Baikal Amur Corrective Labour Camp. Who was this lost man? How did he end up in the gulag? Though a guard, he is a type of prisoner, too. We learn that he is a cultured and urbane ex-city dweller with a secret nostalgia for pre-Revolutionary Russia. In this diary, Chistyakov does not just record his life in the camp, he narrates it. He is a sharp-eyed witness and a sympathetic, humane, and broken man. From stumblingly poetic musings on the bitter landscape of the taiga to matter-of-fact grumbles about the inefficiency of his stove, from accounts of the brutal conditions of the camp to reflections on the cruelty of loneliness, this diary is an astonishing record—a visceral and immediate description of a place and time whose repercussions still affect the shape of modern Russia, and modern Europe.
The book is rated 4.11/5 at goodreads.com, from 9 ratings. See 3 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CFuL6b.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ChkiwZ.

A crime book recommendation: Hollow: A Novel by Owen Egerton

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2D45FNn.
Ollie’s voice is one of the most believable I’ve encountered this year, sustained by honesty, realism, and compassion.
Book description from Google Books:
An NPR Best Book of 2017 “With the kind of grace not usually seen in accessible modern fiction, Egerton also invokes many other things with this central metaphor . . . Ollie’s voice is one of the most believable I’ve encountered this year, sustained by honesty, realism, and compassion. In his exile, Ollie has taken stock. His reckoning with the past creates the story’s exquisite tension and makes the final scene bloom with tenderness . . . The core of Hollow is anything but.” —NPR When Oliver Bonds, a revered religious studies professor at the University of Texas, loses his toddler son and undergoes intense legal scrutiny over his involvement, grief engulfs him completely. His life is upended; Oliver loses his wife, home, and faith. Three years after his son’s death, Oliver lives in a shack without electricity and frequents the soup kitchen where he used to volunteer. It’s only when befriended by Lyle, a con artist with a passion for theories of Hollow Earth, that Oliver begins to reengage with the world. Oliver too becomes convinced that the inside of the planet might contain a different realm. Desperate to find a place where he can escape his past, Oliver chases after the most unlikely of miracles. With unforgettable characters, wild imagery, and dark humor, Hollow explores the depths of doubt and hope, stretching past grief and into the space where we truly begin to heal.
The book is rated 4.10/5 at goodreads.com, from 80 ratings. See 19 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2BV6Z63.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2D5khMG.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A crime book recommendation: The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2C4AnXu.
As in all of Grisham’s best books, the reader of “The Rooster Bar” gets good company, a vigorous runaround and — unlike those poor benighted suckers at Foggy Bottom — a bit of a legal education.
Book description from Google Books:
#1 New York Times bestselling author John Grisham’s newest legal thriller takes you inside a law firm that’s on shaky ground. Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam. But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . . Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.
The book is rated 3.92/5 at goodreads.com, from 17318 ratings. See 1404 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DbbNn9.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DdRMwn.