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March 31, 2013 / schulerbooks

Jim’s Handsells for 3/31/13


If there’s one thing we Booksellers at Schuler Books and Music love, it’s when a customer wants a total, complete,  no-holds-barred recommendation for a good book. You could comb through our Staff Picks section or the Indie Next list, of course, but nothing beats having someone talk you into taking a chance on a new book from an up-and-coming author, or an old favorite, or something that slipped everyone’s notice but deserves to be read. We call it a Hand-Sell, and it’s one of the best parts of the job.

In keeping with that idea, I thought I’d do something a little different, this week, and try to remotely Hand-Sell you on three of my favorite, understated titles. They run from spooky to tense, with a little funny-but-sad thrown in for good measure.

So, are you ready to be sold on something? Then let’s begin…

9781439148631When Jacob Logan’s big-city business venture goes down in flames, he heads back to his family’s home to recuperate and decide what to do next. But right from the start, he gets the distinct feeling that things are just not right in the small, Southern town he grew up in. The people he remembers are a little too welcoming, or not welcoming at all, and while things seem familiar they also feel just a little off, like he’d walked into an imperfect retelling of his childhood.

And then the real trouble starts. Unseen forces try and compel him to leave, but other, equally unseen hands force him to stay. Being pushed and pulled in this spooky fashion, he soon finds himself in genuine jeopardy, but no one will believe his crazy stories. Can he unravel the mystery his dead parents have left for him, and survive? Or did he come back to this town to die?

With its spooky, modern-day Southern Gothic atmosphere, and tales of dueling ghosts, Firefly Rain proves that you can go home again, but it might just kill you.

* * *

So these two junkies meet up in rehab in LA: one is the scion of a wealthy Hollywood family who’s been given one last chance to clean9780061789748 up, or else he gets cut off from the family’s largesse, and the other is the lover of a now-dead police investigator who’s decided to kick the junk as he starts a new life. And here they are, sharing a room at a center being run by a celebrity shrink whose method of treatment leaves a lot to be desired.

At any other time, this might sound like the start of a joke, but the lover of the dead cop has a story to tell. His sugar-daddy was an infamous sort who was at some of the Valley’s more interesting crime scenes, and not above filching some of the evidence for his own use, or as a souvenir. This included the Tate-LaBianca murders, where the bent cop managed to steal a homemade porn movie, featuring some of the family’s famous friends, all of whom are dead now, either due to the murders, natural causes, their own subsequent tragedies, or — in Mama Cass’ case — a ham sandwich.

In the right hands, this film could be worth a lot of money. The Hollywood money guy might know the right hands, and so a partnership is struck. But can these two junkies manage to get clean, get out of rehab, and make this deal happen — especially when a very scary character comes looking for the dead cop’s lover?

Sick City alternates between harrowing and hilarious, with enough pathos to have you reaching for a box of tissues by the end.

* * *

9780812977301Photographs aren’t supposed to come to life, years later, and try and kill you, but that’s exactly what’s happening to Falques.

An internationally-renowned  war photographer, Falques has given up his camera for a brush, and intends to spend his days painting a diorama inside a lighthouse, instead. One day, as he’s going about his work, a strange man comes up to him and asks if he recognizes him. It turns out this man was the subject of one of Falques’ more famous photographs, and being seen the world around brought this man nothing but tragedy and pain.

Now he’s here to kill Falques, but he leaves and promises to come back the next day. Each day, when he comes back, he and Falques talk about life, and art, and pain, and the strange way these things are all bound up together. And with each pointed discussion, as we wonder if this is going to be the day the stranger carries out his threat, we find out more and more about the woman Falques loved and lost, and what has truly brought him to this lighthouse.

Can Falques survive this hazardous and heady dialogue, or is he already dead?

Better known for his Captain Alatriste novels, Arturo Perez Reverte’s The Painter of Battles shows how versatile his talents truly are. This story is a tense masterpiece that should be savored by anyone who loves a laid-back thriller with an understated menace, where the real stakes are more than can be delivered with a bullet to the head or a knife to the back.

And that’s all for me, today. If your closest Schuler Books and Music doesn’t have these titles, we’d be happy to try and order them for you.

But I’m not the only one with recommendations to make! Be sure to ask one of our Booksellers for a recommendation the next time you visit. It would truly be a pleasure.

– Jim Tremlett, Eastwood


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