Rosemary's Picks

Rosemary started at Malaprop's in 2018. She's not new to bookstores, having worked for 16 years at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.  She has a range of book loves, but especially non-fiction, mystery, and children's books.  If you bring a dog in the store, she's sure to offer it a dog treat.  She loves Asheville and Malaprop's. 


American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper By Daniel Stashower Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250041166
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Minotaur Books - September 6th, 2022

American Demon
As a true crime reader, how had I never heard of this Depression-era mass murderer? "American Demon" had me at the tagline "Eliot Ness and the hunt for America's Jack the Ripper". Daniel Stashower does a masterful job of bringing us up to speed on Ness's Prohibition activities. But his focus on Ness's less well known career in Cleveland replaces the folk hero with a more flawed and fascinating lawman. The years of pre-CSI forensics and plain legwork done by investigators is both admirable for its doggedness and frustrating for its political tussles.  See if you agree with their result.

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Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth By Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, Jason Stanford Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984880116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 7th, 2022

My interest in Texas and the Alamo was nil. But I picked up this rollicking, funny, fascinating account and was entranced.  More than a history, it's the story of how a history is created and revised.  Do NOT skip the footnotes!!!

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus By David Quammen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982164362
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 4th, 2022

David Quammen can make the most complex scientific subjects perfectly understandable and fascinating.  We've lived through the beginnings of Covid-19, but so much was going on behind the scenes.  It's astounding that vaccines were developed as quickly as they were, and we find out the backstory here.   Quammen makes our last two years read like a thriller. 

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The Lioness: A Novel By Chris Bohjalian Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385544825
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - May 10th, 2022

I am astounded by how many voices Chris conveys. The Lioness is a true testament to his writing ability, as he tells the story of a safari trip gone horribly wrong. Alternating chapters are told by ten attendees, with their own perspectives. We get glimpses of both Hollywood glamour and the political turmoil of Africa. 

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City on Fire: A Novel By Don Winslow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062851192
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: William Morrow - April 26th, 2022

I generally don't do mobster movies or books, but this Iliad-inspired saga of Irish and Italian gangs at war had me hooked from the start.  None of my Irish-Italian family was in the mob, but I grew up knowing the types.  Don Winslow nails these characters - their mannerisms, slang, and values. 

City on Fire is the first in a trilogy to conclude over the next couple of years with City of Dreams and City in Ashes. Starting out in the "Dogtown" part of Rhode Island in the '80s, a tenuous peace between the Irish and Italian gangs is broken when the Irish mob boss's son steals the gorgeous girlfriend of an Italian 'made' guy.  The war that results will alter everyone's future, especially that of Danny Ryan.  This loyal but second-tier collector for the mob must assume leadership to save his family and his friends. 

The characters are richly developed. What I especially appreciated is that the female characters have equally developed back stories as the men.  Madeleine, Terri, and Pam (the 'Helen' of this Iliead) are not just window dressing, as can be the case in too many thrillers.

Can't wait for the second installment.                                                               

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White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America's Heartland By Dick Lehr Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358359906
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - November 30th, 2021

A brave, ordinary guy agrees to infiltrate a white supremacist group in Kansas for the FBI. What he goes through and what he uncovers is truly amazing.  This is a riveting account of a group of vicious, bigoted men planning mass slaughter of Somali Muslim immigrants in their community.  And yet, it's a hopeful book, showing what a regular citizen with determination can achieve. 

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Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt By Phoebe Zerwick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802159373
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - March 8th, 2022

Once upon a time, a man was unjustly imprisoned. DNA and dogged work freed him after 19 years. He lived happily ever after.

Sorry, that last part didn’t happen. Even with DNA evidence, he almost didn’t get exonerated. Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt details Hunt’s journey from teen to convicted killer, innocent freed man, and activist with many twists. But the saddest part is what happened to him after freedom, and how it illustrates the plight of most of the exonerated.

As the Crow Dies By Kenneth Butcher Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610353618
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pace Press - June 2nd, 2020

Kenneth Butcher's mystery may get the award for most Asheville landmarks featured in a book.  Set in 2011 (for reasons that soon become apparent), a body discovered in the RAD sets two investigators off on a twisty mission involving government agencies.  12 Bones, the Grove Arcade, even Malaprop's are among locales that keep the plot moving.  Quirky characters, a crow to love, and a tour of the city make this a quintessential Asheville read. 


Black Cloud Rising By David Wright Falade Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802159199
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - February 22nd, 2022

I’ve never before encountered a novel to plunge me into the heart of the Civil War like this. As the War still rages, a Black Union Brigade is formed of recently freed slaves. Dick, semi-acknowledged son of a slave and her master, is an honest and eloquent observer of slave-master relations. Now he fights for Gen. Edward Wild, leading the hunt for rebel fighters as he steels himself to clash with his former master. I felt all of Dick’s emotional journey as he progressed from slave to wartime leader and beyond. The Outer Banks setting for much of the action is beautifully portrayed. Keep rising, Dick.

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Ring Shout By P. Djèlí Clark Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250767028
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - October 13th, 2020

This slim horror novel packs a big-sized punch.  Horrors of the Jim Crow South are balanced with horrors of another dimension.  Strange forces feed on the hate of KKK members and sympathizers to turn them into... something else.  A trio of female freedom fighters, backed by those who still believe in Low Counry powers, and supernatural helpers who are reminiscent of the witches in A Wrinkle in Time, are the South's only hope.  This is unlike anything I've ever read.

Beautiful Things: A Memoir By Hunter Biden Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982151126
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - May 31st, 2022

When I heard Hunter Biden had written a memoir, my first thought was he's entitled to, but his name got him the visibility to do so.  I was wrong.  I heard and read such wonderful reviews, I gave it a try.  What a story he has.  Politics play only a small part as he concentrates on his relationship with his late brother, and the overpowering addictions he's dealt with most of his life.  I truly don't see how he can still be alive - and he even finds it hard to believe - given where he sank to in his darkest periods.  This is a brutal, honest window into the soul of someone coming to terms with addiction.  (The scene where his family stages an intervention is heart-wrenching.)

If It Bleeds: Mr. Harrigan's Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat By Stephen King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982137984
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - June 1st, 2021

I'm more a fan of King's novels, but this quartet of stories are the best I've read of his. My favorite King character returns in the title novella (Holly Gibney fans, rejoice!). But of them all, The Life of Chuck is the sparkling, unexpected gem.  What starts out as an apparent apocalyptic tale is instead a poignant celebration of life. 

The Women of the Copper Country: A Novel By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982109592
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - July 7th, 2020

When a bookseller says someone is her favorite author, take that as high praise. The Women of the Copper Country is perfectly timed to today's environment, when women's advancements and the rights of workers are under fire. Russell mixes real and historical characters. I had to resist the urge to look up the fates of Annie and other figures until I'd finished it - which only took two days.

This is rich historical fiction based on many real people and events that history has passed over. Who knew the U.S. had its own Joan of Arc? Once you finish Women, I guarantee you'll be searching out information on Annie Clements.

Night of the Assassins: The Untold Story of Hitler's Plot to Kill FDR, Churchill, and Stalin By Howard Blum Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062872906
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 1st, 2021

It may be the biggest, secret story of WWII.  Even before D-Day, German military leaders saw the writing on the wall.  It wouldn't win them the war, but they hoped to get better terms of surrender - by assassinating the three main Allied leaders and throwing the war effort into chaos.  But when might they be together?  Howard Blum creates a breakneck thriller, as German generals slowly obtain info on what became the Tehran conference, and FDR's chief bodyguard tries to prepare security for such a gathering.  How much luck, skill, coincidence and daring - on both sides - makes for fascinating reading.

Wilmington's Lie (Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize): The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy By David Zucchino Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802148650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - January 19th, 2021

It's not often that you encounter a book that shakes you to your core and changes your world view.  But that was what I was faced with when I read Pulitzer Prize recipient David Zucchino's "Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy".  

As a Northerner, I'd heard nothing of this in school.  As a transplant to NC in the 90s, I saw mention of a "race riot" in NC history in 1898.  But reading Zucchino's deeply researched account, I was slapped in the face with how much this was not a riot, but a white-led massacre of Wilmington's black citizens. White supremacists plotted to kill people outright, and seize what small political power blacks had achieved in post-Civil War Wilmington, effecting a coup and wiping out the burgeoning black middle class in their city.  Once one-party Democratic rule was established, Wilmington's black citizens would not achieve political representation until the Civil Rights era.

Some notable names from NC's history come up on the very sorry side of the massacre. Among them, Raleigh's Josephus Daniels, a friend of FDR and publisher of Raleigh's News and Observer, helped fuel the coup.  Charles Aycock, later an NC governor, was a chief organizer of the white supremacists. Together with their followers, they perpetrated the only coup d'etat of an American city in our history. Their actions and what followed make later Senator Jesse Helms look like a choirboy.

Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery (Obama Biden Mysteries #1) By Andrew Shaffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781683690399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quirk Books - July 10th, 2018

Get it for the cover alone – you know you want it.  Not a parody – it’s quite a decent mystery.  But … Biden, Obama, muscle car, biker bar, shotgun…

Need I say more?  It’s a blast. 

Hope Rides Again: An Obama Biden Mystery (Obama Biden Mysteries #2) By Andrew Shaffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781683691228
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Quirk Books - July 9th, 2019

Oh, yeah, the boys are back in town!  This time, the town's Obama's home turf of Chicago.  The second Hope novel, these aren't parodies, but real mysteries loaded with buddy humor.  Michelle, Oprah, and Rahm Emanuel all make appearances as Barack and Joe hit the seamier streets of Chicago looking for justice.  

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women By Kate Moore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492650959
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks - March 6th, 2018

Be forewarned: this book will make you very, very angry.  Now we may look at early 20th Century attitudes toward radium with shock (radium toothpaste? jockstraps?). Corporate America knew the danger, even if consumers didn't. And no one was more vulnerable than the literally glowing women who painted the in-demand radium dials of watches and instruments.  Their years of suffering and legal conflicts led to safer working conditions for others.  Think of their legacy when someone proposes rolling back worker protections. 

Doc: A Novel By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812980004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - March 6th, 2012

DOC shines with great character development, period details, and surprising historical fact. Meet Doc Holliday before he, Wyatt Earp, and others became unwilling legends. Whether you're fascinated by the O.K. Corral mythology or not, you'll be invested in what happens to Doc.

Deep into the Dark: A Mystery (The Detective Margaret Nolan Series #1) By P. J. Tracy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250813831
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Minotaur Books - September 28th, 2021

When the mother half of the mother-daughter duo who made up P.J. Tracy passed away, I was afraid it was the end of their dark and quirky Monkeewrench series. It wasn’t, and daughter Traci Lambrecht is branching out anew with an L.A.-based series, starting with Deep Into the Dark.

The characters and setting differ from Monkeewrench, but the intricate plotlines and memorable characterizations remain. Deep focuses on three protagonists, each in some way rebuilding a life. Veteran Sam Easton, scarred in mind and body, is trying to come to terms with his PTSD and his failing marriage, even as he takes a ‘safe’ job in an area bar. His co-worker, Melody Traiger, has escaped drug addiction and perhaps some darker things she’s keeping secret. Detective Margaret Nolan is actively trying to survive her beloved brother’s combat death. When brutal murders occur, with Sam and Melody as the common denominators, they must band together to find what their link to a killer is, even as the police (except Margaret) see them as prime suspects.

Looking for a sunny landscape and twisting mystery to enjoy over the winter? Step Deep Into the Dark and escape. You’ll never look at a bouquet of roses the same way again.

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth By Rachel Maddow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525575481
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - February 2nd, 2021

If you thought the oil and natural gas industries were corrupt, Rachel Maddow will confirm your suspicions, and inject them with steroids.  The international players, their secret deals, and legacies are all connected by Rachel's slam dunk reporting. Blowout will make you very mad even as it educates you.

Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 By Garrett M. Graff Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501182211
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - September 8th, 2020

I can’t say this strongly enough – everyone should read this book, but especially those too young to have strong memories of 9/11. 

Graff curates and organizes recollections from those most deeply involved with 9/11 to stunning effect.  The sights, smells, and sounds (especially the sounds – and silences) bring the day vividly, painfully back.  There are even more overlooked heroes than you remember (among them the air traffic controllers contending with the unimaginable, landing thousands of planes safely all at once).

They Called Us Enemy By George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker (Illustrator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781603094504
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Top Shelf Productions - July 16th, 2019

George Takei of Star Trek fame recounts his childhood as a prisoner of war - one of 120,000 interned American citizens of Japanese ancestry in the days following Pearl Harbor.  Even if you think you know this shameful episode in American history, you don't know the half of it.  More than a memoir, Takei infuses  Enemy with the innocent recollections of a child, and the informed retrospective view of an adult.  He honors those who faced great hardships and punishments to oppose the stripping away of their rights as citizens.

Deep River By Karl Marlantes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802148971
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Grove Press - July 14th, 2020

Whatever he writes, Karl Marlantes is so good, he makes me weep.  This Rhodes Scholar and Vietnam veteran was first published later in life. His first novel was Matterhorn, quite possibly THE novel of the Vietnam experience.  (No less than Sebastian Junger called Matterhorn "one of the most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam".)

In his second book, he turned to non-fiction.  What It Is Like To Go To War is a harrowing, honest, and thoughtful analysis of American veterans' return to civilian life, and how differently the experiences of Vietnam vets were versus WWII and modern warfare returnees.

I've eagerly awaited a new book from him, and now Deep River arrives.  Sweeping epics are a soft spot for me, and Deep River delivers, spanning 40 years in the Koski family.  From their lives in Finland under Russian persecution, through tragedy and rebellion, we are drawn into their lives.  Siblings are separated, and some reunited as they emigrate to America, building (they hope) something lasting in the wild, forested Northwest.  Characters' lives intersect across the decades as a Finnish community is established in an almost primeval Washington. 

Although separated by some years and miles, I couldn't help connecting the Koskis' desperate, hopeful flight with my own father's leap of faith in coming to America.  Deep River is particularly timely today, given the attitudes of some toward immigrants.  Spend even a few pages with the Koskis and their compatriots, and you'll know the courage and desperation it takes to throw oneself on the shores of a strange country, with neither language nor money to soften the landing.  Just... hope.

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Backyard Bears: Conservation, Habitat Changes, and the Rise of Urban Wildlife (Scientists in the Field) By Amy Cherrix Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328858689
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - October 23rd, 2018

Wildlife may be closer than you think.  Even if you don't live in "Bear Central" - like Asheville - we need to know how to co-habitate with the critters who were there first.  Amy brings kids into the front line of bear research, and the stunning photography just enhances their experiences.  Engaging, informative, and fascinating!  A bonus for me was the section on other urban areas' wildlife - I don't run across my beloved capybaras in many books.

Monstrous Devices By Damien Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451478597
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Puffin Books - September 3rd, 2019

Damien Love, you had me at Prague.  Who can resist an ominous tale set in the city of the Golem?  Alex and his mysteriously capable grandfather have a refreshingly loving and trusting relationship. But can it help them survive the extraordinarily evil beings, human and mechanical, who pursue them?  Fast paced and original adventure for middle grades.

Night Watch: Book One By Sergei Lukyanenko Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062310095
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Harper Paperbacks - December 31st, 2013

The Others - forces of dark and light - have struck an uneasy balance over humans, with their agents carefully orchestrating a balance of power.  Now an Other of extraordinary power, who is not affiliated with either side, has been discovered. Her existence may trigger a long-predicted war. 

Set in '80s Russia, Night Watch begins a quintet of sublime urban fantasy, and provides a unique look into Russian culture.

The Line That Held Us By David Joy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425280287
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - July 9th, 2019

If you like your novels ominous and suspenseful, The Line That Held Us is for you. 

David Joy does two incredible things in this novel: he creates a uniquely cruel, sadistic villain - Dwayne will truly stand out among the most horrendous human beings you'll encounter in a book.  David also succeeds in making Dwayne a poignant and sympathetic character. You'll hate yourself for feeling sympathy for him, but you can't help it.  

The tension is high from the start, and David ratchets it up as Dwayne and his (sometimes innocent) prey complete their intricate dance.  (Comes out mid-August)

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Barracoon: The Story of the Last
By Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker (Foreword by), Deborah G. Plant (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780062748218
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Amistad - January 7th, 2020


READ THIS BOOK! Imagine hearing the words of the last surviving slave brought to America.  Zora Neale Hurston earned the trust of Cudjo Lewis. Her insistence on keeping faithful to his dialect delayed its publication for years.  

Cudjo's story of pre-slavery life in Africa, enslavement, survival, and creating a post-Civil War Africatown is literally priceless. It will haunt you, as will his indomitable spirit. Rest in peace, Kossola.

The Sparrow: A Novel (The Sparrow Series #1) By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780449912553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - September 8th, 1997

My favorite book by one of my favorite authors.  Don't let its sci-fi setting throw you off if you 'never read sci fi'.  This is by turns luminous, surprising, and always inventive.  And have Children of God, the sequel, on hand.  You'll want to dive in as soon as you finish The Sparrow

A Thread of Grace: A Novel By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780449004135
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - December 6th, 2005

Grace is epic historical fiction at its finest.  Set during WWII, Italy has just surrendered.  Nazis, Allies, Jewish refugees - all are descending on Italy, and it's hell on Earth. Told from different viewpoints, you will be constantly surprised, sometimes stunned by what happens to whom.  

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics By Daniel James Brown Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125471
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2014

If you have a poet's heart, you'll be awed by the spiritual connections to rowing expressed by both the crew members and the master boat builder whose philosophy weaves through this historical drama. 

If you're of a more mathematical nature: 


A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #1) By Madeleine L'Engle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312367541
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - May 1st, 2007

My childhood favorite - read uncountable times. What young girl doesn't identify with Meg? After several years, L'Engle wrote sequels, but Time is a standalone gem. 

Everybody's Fool: A Novel (North Bath Trilogy #2) By Richard Russo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307454829
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Vintage - January 24th, 2017

I've always loved Russo's pitch-perfect rendition of small-town life, especially in the upstate NY area I know well.  Everybody's Fool goes into the top 10 of my favorite books - ever.  No character is perfect, but when I finished the book, I missed every one of them (well, except Roy. There's no love lost there!)  

So much happens to the interweaving cast, it was a shock to consider that Fool only covers a couple of days in the life of Bath, NY.  You may not want to live there, but you'd want these folks as your neighbors. (Except Roy).