Best New Books: Week of 6/25/2019

What could be better than sitting out in the sun on a warm Summer day with a great book? We can’t think of anything! This week again sees a slew of exciting new titles that are sure to make for great beach reading. Mystery and suspense fans in particular have a lot to pick from, with several new novels that will keep readers losing all track of time as they keep turning the pages to find out whodunnit. Just make sure to put on sunscreen before you start…



FICTION



How Could She by  Lauren Mechling

how could sheAfter a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Geraldine is struggling to get her life back on track in Toronto. Her two old friends, Sunny and Rachel, left ages ago for New York, where they’ve landed good jobs, handsome husbands, and unfairly glamorous lives (or at least so it appears to Geraldine). Sick of watching from the sidelines, Geraldine decides to force the universe to give her the big break she knows she deserves, and moves to New York City. 

As she zigzags her way through the downtown art scene and rooftop party circuit, she discovers how hard it is to find her footing in a world of influencers and media darlings. Meanwhile, Sunny’s life as an It Girl watercolorist is not nearly as charmed as it seemed to Geraldine from Toronto. And Rachel is trying to keep it together as a new mom, writer, and wife–how is it that she was more confident and successful at twenty-five than in her mid-thirties? Perhaps worst of all, why are Sunny and Rachel–who’ve always been suspicious of each other–suddenly hanging out without Geraldine?

Hilarious and fiercely observed, How Could She is an essential novel of female friendship, an insider’s look into the cutthroat world of New York media–from print to podcasting–and a witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.

Description from Goodreads.

“Precise and of-the-moment…  A delectably uncomfortable time capsule of our post-aughts selves and the honest struggles that lurk inside the hearts of women everywhere.” – Vogue

“Mechling captures the prickly feelings of possessiveness and isolation that creep in when two people in a triangle—even a platonic one—draw close, shutting out the third. Add to that the stress of trying to make a living when you’re a woman on the far side of 30, in a field that’s almost no longer a field yet is still dominated by men. How Could She has a vibrant modern energy, and it gets how hard it can be to preserve friendships when we’re so busy going after everything else we want in life.” – Time

Smart novels about adult friendship are so, so, so hard to find that this very 2019 novel… is destined to become the book you turn to when you can’t decide whether to hug or throttle your suddenly successful best friend.” – Vulture

Available Formats:

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The Gone Dead by  Chanelle Benz

gone deadBillie James’s inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since.

Thirty years later, Billie returns, but her father’s home is unnervingly secluded; her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.

Description from Goodreads.

“Every chapter in The Gone Dead yields a surprise… Benz’s Delta is portrayed with care and depth… Her attention to the recurring nature of racism in this country, and her gift for weaving these insights into a gripping narrative, establish Benz as an adept critic and storyteller.” – New York Times Book Review

“Transports readers to the mucky Mississippi delta, where rising humidity and a few probing questions unearth a long-buried crime… An examination of racial justice and history— and whose versions are accepted as truth.” – Elle

“A rich, arresting exploration of racial injustice and the long shadows cast by family legacy… Propulsive from the outset, culminating in a wrenching final scene… A beautiful and devastating portrait of the modern South.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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The Most Fun We Ever Had by  Claire Lombardo

most fun we ever hadWhen Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“A sprawling, enchanting debut, this novel jumps back and forth across time to tell the story of one powerful, complicated, and utterly unforgettable family as they navigate love and loss.” – Town & Country

“This juicy saga spans more than four decades… You’ll be glad this loopy family isn’t yours, but reading about them is a treat.” – People

“A sprawling drama that explores the maelstrom of love, resentment and tension of the nuclear family, and the ways in which a shared history can affect the future for years… Covering 40 years of Sorenson family strengths and foibles, The Most Fun We Ever Had is a classy but juicy read that always has one more surprise up its sleeve.” – Shelf Awareness

Available Formats:

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by  Linda Holmes

evvie drake starts overIn a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.

Description from Goodreads.

Evvie Drake Starts Over is a heartwarming rom-com about loss, grief and second chances… Despite the kernel of sadness rooted at the novel’s core, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a feel-good read that radiates warmth. Holmes nails the balance between romance and humor, with Evvie and Dean’s effortless and truly funny dialogue being a particular strength…. Uplifting and life-affirming, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a perfect choice for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Marian Keyes.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“A smart romantic comedy… Evvie Drake Starts Over, ripe with amusing wit and charm, skillfully explores regret and longing, friendship, love and forgiveness and the challenges posed by reinvention. Strong characterizations and short, well-plotted scenes are filled with clever banter… Readers will cheer for this richly drawn cast.” – Shelf Awareness

“The charm of Holmes’ novel comes not only from a genuine friendship between Evvie and Dean that develops into a sweet romance but also from watching amiable Evvie stumble through the process of finding herself in a realistic way. A warm and funny book that will utterly captivate fans of Abbi Waxman and Taylor Jenkins Reid.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Snakes by  Sadie Jones

snakes“I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,” she said. She didn’t feel afraid standing in the darkness, imagining snakes, even with the smell of death in the air.”

Recently married, psychologist Bea and Dan, a mixed-race artist, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping.

Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.

A chilling page-turner and impossible to put down, The Snakes is Sadie Jones at her best: breathtakingly powerful, brilliantly incisive, and utterly devastating.

Description from Goodreads.

“Jones’s propulsive yet thoughtful fifth novel grips readers from the first page… A tightly crafted, deeply moving, and thrilling story about how money corrupts and all the myriad ways members of a family can ruin each other.” – Publishers Weekly

“Don’t be misled by this book’s title. Although a few creepy reptiles make an appearance, the real snakes in this twisty story are human ones. Another memorable novel from the versatile Jones.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A well-executed, character-driven cross between domestic drama and crime thriller.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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SUSPENSE



A Nearly Normal Family by  M.T. Edvardsson

nearly normal familyEighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Description from Goodreads.

“An intense legal thriller that successfully plays realistic, gripping emotion against a shocking legal twist.” – Booklist

“At its core, A Nearly Normal Family asks: How well do you know your loved ones? Or your best friend? Or anyone? Whom can you trust? Edvardsson doesn’t give easy answers, and even throws in commentary about the Swedish legal system when it comes to determining guilt or innocence. But the author raises provocative questions, wraps them up in a propulsive thriller and delivers an ultra-satisfying read that’s far from ordinary.” – Shelf Awareness

“Edvardsson ably weaves themes of parental guilt and sacrifice into a nuanced family drama.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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Paranoid by  Lisa Jackson

paranoidThere are people in Edgewater, Oregon, who think that twenty years ago, Rachel Gaston got away with murder.

Rachel still has no idea how a foolish teenaged game turned deadly—or who replaced her soft pellet air gun with a real weapon. When a figure leapt out at her from the darkness, she fired without thinking. Too late, she recognized her half-brother, Luke, and saw blood blooming around his chest.

Despite counseling, Rachel’s horrifying dreams about that night continue. Her anxiety contributed to her divorce from Detective Cade Ryder, though he blames himself too. But as Rachel’s high school reunion nears, she feels her imagination playing tricks, convincing her that objects in her house have moved. That there’s a hint of unfamiliar cologne in the air. That someone is tailing her car. Watching her home.

She’s right to be scared. And as connections surface between a new string of murders and Luke’s death, Rachel realizes there’s no escaping the past, and the truth may be darker than her worst fears…

Description from Goodreads.

“Bestseller Jackson gradually builds up the layers of this… tangled psychological thriller, leading to a stunning finale.” – Publishers Weekly

“…Jackson’s fine plotting with a horde of surprise twists will keep the reader thoroughly invested in the story.” – The Prairies Book Review

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway | eBook


Backlash by  Brad Thor

backlashIn ancient texts, there are stories about men who struck from the shadows, seemingly beyond the reach of death itself. These men were considered part angel, part demon. Their loyalty was to their families, their friends, and their kings. You crossed these men at your peril. And once crossed, there was no crossing back.

They were fearless; men of honor who have been known throughout history by different names: Spartan, Viking, Samurai.

Today, men like these still strike from the shadows. They are highly prized intelligence agents, military operatives, and assassins.

One man is all three.

Two days ago, that man was crossed—badly.

Now, far from home and surrounded by his enemy, Scot Harvath must battle his way out.

With no support, no cavalry coming, and no one even aware of where he is, it will take everything he has ever learned to survive.

But survival isn’t enough. Harvath wants revenge.

In the most explosive novel Brad Thor has ever written, page after captivating page of action, intrigue, loyalty, and betrayal will keep you hooked until the very last sentence.

Description from Goodreads.

“Raw emotion, nonstop action, and relentless pacing makes Backlash another one-night read from Brad Thor, who delivers the book to beat in 2019.” – The Real Book Spy

Backlash is Brad Thor’s best ever thriller. But probably only until his next one.” – Washington Times

Available Formats:

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Dear Wife by  Kimberly Belle

dear wifeBeth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

Description from Goodreads.

“Multiple plot twists keep the reader guessing all the way to the stunning conclusion, and the link between Beth and Sabine comes as one of the book’s bigger surprises. Belle once again displays a knack for high suspense.” – Publishers Weekly

“Everything is not quite as it seems in this quick, satisfying read.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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MYSTERY



Big Sky by  Kate Atkinson

big skyJackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

Description from Goodreads.

“Atkinson opens Big Sky with one perfect page. It’s a bit of a red herring, but it couldn’t do a better job of throwing the reader off base and commanding instant interest. It’s a short chapter called ‘Eloping,’ and if you have a way of looking at it, do. It’s a prime example of how Atkinson tells a great story, toys with expectations, deceives by omission, blows smoke and also writes like she’s your favorite friend. Thank goodness the long Jackson Brodie hiatus is over.” – New York Times 

“The novel is brimming with the wit and let-justice-triumph tenacity that led the series to print bestsellerdom and a popular BBC-TV series… There isn’t a character here – major or minor – who doesn’t sashay resplendently off the page. With Atkinson it’s Raymond Chandler meets Jane Austen, and amazingly she makes it all work.” – Washington Post

“The great Atkinson has returned to crime fiction and her well-beloved detective, Jackson Brodie… Atkinson masterfully juggles Brodie’s consciousness with that of numerous other characters…You flit in and out of their various viewpoints, but Brodie’s – warmhearted, weary, haunted by loss – always feels like coming home… I read this book in a delicious late-night rush; I suspect many of you will too.” – Seattle Times 

Available Formats:

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Gone Too Long by  Lori Roy

gone too longOn the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.

Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father–a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from–and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father’s apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.

As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.

Description from Goodreads.

“Florida writer Lori Roy brings a powerful literary voice to the crime genre with this dark, corrosive tale… Gone Too Long is a hauntingly detailed story of survival.” – Chicago Tribune

“[Roy] has always been deft at creating suspense, but she hits a new level with this finely crafted thriller… Roy crafts the book’s triple plots with skillful misdirection and sure timing… Gone Too Long is a compelling thriller, and it’s also a story of how hatred and violence toward the other create a legacy that follows those who hate home.” – Tampa Bay Times

“This compelling, issue-oriented story by Edgar Award–winning author Roy is a creepy, eerie account of a young girl and a community held hostage by the Klan.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Black Jersey by  Jorge Zepeda Patterson

black jerseyThere are riders willing to die just to win a single leg of the Tour, careening downhill at a suicidal ninety kilometers per hour; now I know there are also riders ready to kill for it.

Marc, a French-Colombian professional cyclist with a military past, is on an elite Tour de France team led by his best friend, Steve, an American star and a favorite to win this year’s Tour. But the competition takes a dark turn when someone begins eliminating racers in a series of violent “accidents,” and all the remaining athletes become suspects. Marc agrees to help the French police with their investigation from the inside, but as the days progress, the dangers grow, and the number of potential murderers–and potential winners–shrinks. In fact, if there’s any team that has been favored by the murderer’s actions, it’s Marc and Steve’s. Who can Marc trust? Who should he protect? As the finish line approaches, Marc must decide what he’s willing to risk for justice, victory, and friendship.

Description from Goodreads.

“[The] ability to satisfy multiple audiences while presenting something fresh makes The Black Jersey a definite winner… Adventure and mystery fans of many stripes… cycling fans, of course… and anyone who just likes a good story with solid characters and intense human drama will enjoy it.” – New York Journal of Books

“Set during the Tour de France, this thrilling mystery from Mexican author Patterson boasts as many twists and turns as the treacherous bicycle race that winds through the Alps and the Pyrenees… This meticulously plotted novel about riders willing to die—and possibly kill—to win cycling’s biggest race will have readers guessing until the very last page. Patterson should win a wider American audience with this outing.” – Publishers Weekly

“The fast pace and numerous plot twists will keep readers in suspense until the end, when the cyclists cross the finish line at the Champs-Élysées.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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NONFICTION



I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by  Emily Nussbaum

i like to watchFrom her creation of the first “Approval Matrix” in New York magazine in 2004 to her Pulitzer Prize–winning columns for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum has known all along that what we watch is who we are. In this collection, including two never-before-published essays, Nussbaum writes about her passion for television that began with stumbling upon Buffy the Vampire Slayer—a show that was so much more than it appeared—while she was a graduate student studying Victorian literature. What followed was a love affair with television, an education, and a fierce debate about whose work gets to be called “great” that led Nussbaum to a trailblazing career as a critic whose reviews said so much more about our culture than just what’s good on television. Through these pieces, she traces the evolution of female protagonists over the last decade, the complex role of sexual violence on TV, and what to do about art when the artist is revealed to be a monster. And she explores the links between the television antihero and the rise of Donald Trump.

The book is more than a collection of essays. With each piece, Nussbaum recounts her fervent search, over fifteen years, for a new kind of criticism that resists the false hierarchy that elevates one form of culture over another. It traces her own struggle to punch through stifling notions of “prestige television,” searching for a wilder and freer and more varied idea of artistic ambition—one that acknowledges many types of beauty and complexity, and that opens to more varied voices. It’s a book that celebrates television as television, even as each year warps the definition of just what that might mean.

Description from Goodreads.

“You’ll be delighted… Nussbaum’s essay about men, art, and the #MeToo movement is alone worth the price of the book.” – Washington Post

“Sometimes I’ll just be sitting around, reading something this woman’s written, and I’ll actually think, Why doesn’t somebody just put all of Emily Nussbaum’s writing into a book? And now somebody has! Except I Like to Watch is more than I knew I wanted. It’s got some of the Nussbaum hits (on The Sopranos, on Girls, on Joan Rivers, on Vanderpump Rules, for starters). But it’s also more: a work of sustained philosophical argument (What is television?) and resonant personal reflection (What does fandom cost?). It’s a book by a critic who loves an art form ardently and remains committed to both questioning the people who make the art and interrogating the ardor itself.” – New York Times

“…offers an expansive collection of writing that captures the artistically evolving spirit of current TV… Sharp, insightful writing that firmly positions Nussbaum as one of the leading TV critics of our time.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by  Tom O’Neill & Dan Piepenbring

chaosIn 1999, when Tom O’Neill was assigned a magazine piece about the thirtieth anniversary of the Manson murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Weren’t the facts indisputable? Charles Manson had ordered his teenage followers to commit seven brutal murders, and in his thrall, they’d gladly complied. But when O’Neill began reporting the story, he kept finding holes in the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s narrative, long enshrined in the best-selling Helter Skelter. Before long, O’Neill had questions about everything from the motive to the manhunt. Though he’d never considered himself a conspiracy theorist, the Manson murders swallowed the next two decades of his career. He was obsessed.

Searching but never speculative, Chaos follows O’Neill’s twenty-year effort to rebut the “official” story behind Manson. Who were his real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties? Why didn’t law enforcement act on their many chances to stop him? And how did he turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers? O’Neill’s hunt for answers leads him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from the Summer of Love to the shadowy sites of the CIA’s mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with cover-ups and coincidences.

Featuring hundreds of new interviews and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. In those two dark nights in Los Angeles, O’Neill finds the story of California in the sixties: when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia-or dystopia-was just an acid trip away.

Description from Goodreads.

“O’Neill’s skillful accumulation of facts, untainted by bluffery, is a victory for honest discourse… The discoveries that O’Neill has shared with the world-about lies, suppressions, and conflicts of interest-should scare the hell out of us.” – Bookforum

“Top-notch investigative work… An excellent work of investigative journalism proving the ‘true story’ is not always the truth.” – Library Journal

“Riveting… True crime fans will be enthralled.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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