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Book Towns - Alex Johnson (dream destinations)

The Deceivers - Alex Berenson 

Greeks Bearing Gifts - Philip Kerr 

Twisted Prey - John Sandford

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John LeCarre

UNSUB - Meg Gardiner

A Spy Named Orphan by Roland Philipps

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

The Word Is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

Podcast Favorites

Joe Rogan Experience #1101  Chris & Mark Bell .

WTF Marc Maron with Bill Simmons April 9 2018

Christopher Steele - New Yorker Radio Hour March 6 2018

Lance Armstrong - The Forward - Bryan Fogel (Icarus) part 1 of 2 (both essential listening)

Cold War Conversations - Ian Saunders

Spybrary - Shane Whaley -

Cycling Tips

Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton

Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill


UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

Characterizing books as “page turners”, or “you’ll be up all night reading this one”, have lost impact with me. Sometimes, when writers I enjoy and trust have written blurbs, I jump in.  Often I wonder if they really read the book. My rambling point is UNSUB is frankly superior to the reach of any author’s blurb or review.


Yeah, I know I’m burying the lead, but damn, Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB is captivating and spell-binding. I did find myself up late at night, in need of sleep, turning the pages. UNSUB is a Hall of Fame thriller, one of the most engaging novels I’ve read. Ever.

I'm familiar with Meg Gardiner’s work and expected a great novel, but UNSUB changes the game. Gardiner’s young, inexperienced detective, Caitlin Hendrix, raises the bar for every series built around a main character. (if you haven’t read Into The Black Nowhere, successor to UNSUB, stop reading for a moment, open your Amazon tab or drive to the bookstore, and order it immediately).

In the powerful UNSUB, Hendrix finds herself falling into detective work to the point she worries for her own sanity. Even as others share the building, powerful stress with her, pursuing the same serial killer, running headlong into situations that crushed her father, Caitlin rallies her resolve and moves forward at any cost. 

Meg Gardiner is able to write about the dark side in people in a unique manner. She brings things alive. UNSUB is fiction at it’s best. I was scared and thrilled and tense at the same time. Constantly! Who writes this way, with this much punch? I find myself slowing down, re-reading sentences to enjoy their structure and power and letting the motion picture in my head go to slow-motion. Damn, I can’t shake it, you won’t put it down, and you’ll need an extra copy to give to a friend.

For more Meg Gardiner, absorb her powerful essay published in Signature, titled Growing Up In Santa Barbara While the Golden State Killer Was At Large. 

@MegGardiner1, #UNSUB, #DuttonBooks, @TomColgan14



First Spring Reading on the Deck

Finally, only two weeks after one of the biggest snowstorms in history in April, it's warm and sunny enough to relax on the deck, mid-day, with coffee and Jack the puppy and a book and sunshine. So I did!

 @MegGardiner1, @DuttonBooks, #UNSUB


Book Town: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word by Alex Johnson


I’ve been struggling with how to do justice to my strong feelings about Book Town. I’m in love with the very idea that book towns exist. Until Alex Johnson came along,I dreamed such places existed. Only in my imagination did I dare to believe entire towns based around books existed.

But they do! Scattered around the globe are small, enterprising towns full of ambitious, often unusual, bookshops. Some of these are in place to facilitate trade in books; others have replaced extinct manufacturing enterprises and are helping with a rebirth of the area. Some of these book towns virtually have no economic base other than bookstores.

Book Towns is visually beautiful. Photographs of shops, people, backdrops, and books are liberally scattered through it’s pages. Each chapter is a descriptive essay, triggering travel and book hunting dreams. Johnson has an imaginative flair, with a descriptive and fanciful style. 

I’ve found myself dreaming of traveling to some of the Book Towns in the United States. It turns out St. Paul / Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a Book Town district. I can get there in five hours of driving; that’s going to be my first visit inspired by the book. I'll report in depth. Many of the other regions highlighted in the pages are in beautiful, scenic areas. This isn’t an accident; a healthy tourist trade is essential to a flourishing Book Town.

As a travel guide, Book Towns is a winner. This isn’t a thin photo collection; Johnson’s text forms the basis for the book. He conveys his passion clearly, in an inspiring and fun style. Book Towns is superb stimulus for a book lover’s dream list. Leave a copy somewhere where friends can discover it.

I love the book, I love the topic, and I admire the execution.

@Frances_Lincoln, @shedworking, #booktown



To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear is the 14th appearance by Maisie Dobbs, 1930s-40s English private detective. This time, her situation and adventures take place against the backdrop of Dunkirk and the dire straits of England in the spring of 1940.

I’ve not read this one yet, a full review will appear shortly. The book is in my bedside table stack. I’m familiar with Winspear’s novels, own a bunch of them, and today want to show off the fabulous artwork featured on the cover. Doesn’t that alone make you itch to buy and read To Die But Once?

@harperbooks, #jacquelinewinspear, #todiebutonce