Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

May 14, 2017

New Looks at Two Notable Events in Modern American History   

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. Although not planned this way by the publisher, this book is particularly timely given the current spotlight on the FBI. New Yorker staff writer and author Grann (The Lost City of Z) offers up gripping true-crime narrative that exposes a horrific chapter in our history while chronicling the fledgling days of the J. Edgar Hoover-led FBI as it becam e involved in the case.

In the 19 20s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma, thanks to oil being discovered on their land. Then, one by one, members of the Osage tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. Worse yet, many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed (more than 60 all told), the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations and the bureau initially bungled things. In desperation, young director Hoover turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection. Together with the Osage, they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. Grann's narrative covers the murders and the investigations that followed, as well as a plot that reached all the way to Washington. Not one of this country's finest moments, but Grann's storytelling is captivating.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. This inside look at how Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump is a rather astonishing story of a sure thing gone off the rails. And as the auth ors see it, no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other  than the core problem of Hillary's campaign - the candidate herself. It's also important to note that this is not some right-wing smear job. Allen and Peares are respected Washington political reporters who also wrote HRC, a 2014 portrait of the then-Secretary of State that was largely praiseworthy. Their work on that book introduced them to Clinton's inner circle, and that continued access to insiders from the top to the bottom of the campaign makes Shattered that much more compelling. As The New York Times
noted in a review of the book, "...the portrait of the Clinton campaign that 
emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned 'a winnable race' into another iceberg-seeking campaign ship."    
Shattered articulates how Clinton herself made victory an uphill battle, how her difficulty articulating a vision irreparably hobbled her impact with voters, and how the campaign failed to deal with the populist fury that arose during her the primary battle with Bernie Sanders. It's a fascinating account of a shocking election that has already cemented itself in history But the book can also serve as a teachable moment for Democrats and Progressives, offering a road map of political potholes to be avoided. 
Buzz Book of the Week - New Legal Thriller Takes on War Crimes  

Testimony by Scott Turow. Thirty years after his debut novel, Presumed Innocent, Turow remains a big-name author with a slew of legal thrillers under his belt. Most have been set in  the fictitious Kindle County (think Chicago's Cook County) and his new protagonist is from there as well. But he doesn't s tay, instead taking on the investigation of a Bosnian refugee camp's mystifying disappearance. Early reviews include one from Library Journal, which said, "A complex and haunting tale of war crimes that will not only satisfy hi s courtroom drama devotees but also readers of international thrillers."
Here's a description provided by the publisher: "Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped to examine the disappearance of an entire Gypsy refugee camp--unsolved for ten years--he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. In order to uncover what happened during the apocalyptic chaos after the Bosnian War, Boom must navigate a host of suspects ranging from Serb paramilitaries to organized crime gangs to the U.S. government, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case: Morgan Merriwell, a disgraced U.S. Major General; Ferko Rincic, the massacre's sole survivor; and Esma Czarni, an alluring barrister with secrets to protect."

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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