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. 


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Blind Spots: A Novel By Thomas Mullen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250842749
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Minotaur Books - April 4th, 2023

After a virus blinds much of the world, the invention of "vidders" - which "download" sight into the brain-  lets society somewhat recover. But when blacked out spots hamper witnesses to crimes, Detective Mark Owens is left alone to determine if someone is deliberately tweaking what people "see". And if you can't believe what you see, what is reality?  In this intriguing, futuristic noir mystery, Thomas Mullens hits on issues we face today. What IS a human right? Does money determine who can access the basics of life? And do you want a corporation controlling your mind?

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Quantum Criminals: Ramblers, Wild Gamblers, and Other Sole Survivors from the Songs of Steely Dan (American Music Series) By Alex Pappademas, Joan LeMay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477324998
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: University of Texas Press - May 23rd, 2023

Perhaps they can’t buy a thrill, but now Steely Dan fans can buy awareness into the lyrics they’ve debated for almost 50 years. With “Quantum Criminals”, Alex Pappademas and artist Joan LeMay provide cultural context, educated speculation, and bold visuals illuminating the wild rogues and rascals populating the band’s songs. From the famous (Mr. Lapage, Hoops McCann) to the lesser known (Snake Mary, Pixeleen), you’ll have more insight into their memorable cast. Face it, there may not BE just one story behind each song. But “Quantum Criminals” sure is a fun excursion into what may (or may not) have been in Donald Fagen’s and Walter Becker’s minds.

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Better the Blood By Michael Bennett Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802160607
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - January 10th, 2023

Looking for a new mystery series to start a new year? Even better, how about one that takes you to an unusual locale, and fills you in on culture and history you most likely never explored? Michael Bennett’s Better the Blood  fits you to a T.

The Māori screenwriter and director (aka Michael Te Arawa Bennett) plunges us into the darker side of New Zealand and its history regarding its treatment of its indigenous people in his debut thriller. Māori detective Hana Westerman is deliberately led into a series of bizarre murders, signaling New Zealand’s first serial killer is on the Auckland streets. More disturbing to Hana, she realizes the killings are being done according to a Māori tradition, one calling not for justice, but a ‘rebalancing’ to respond to long-ago savagery perpetrated by British troops. There will be more victims.

Better the Blood reveals the mastermind’s identity early on. Readers are part of the cat-and-mouse action, and may find themselves more sympathetic to the killer than they’d ever expect. I’m looking forward to more cases with Hana Westerman.

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: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
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: 9780062851178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - March 14th, 2023

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: 9780063269118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - November 29th, 2022

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. 

Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt By Phoebe Zerwick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802159380
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 14th, 2023

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: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
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. 


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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.

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. 

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.

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth By Rachel Maddow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525575481
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
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).

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)

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: 


Everybody's Fool: A Novel (North Bath Trilogy #2) By Richard Russo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307454829
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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).