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JUST FINISHED: Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I've read all of these and gobble them like hot buttered rolls, so when I was recently traveling and saw the new one (new to me at least, though it came out last year), I grabbed it. For those of us gleefully familiar with the wheels-within-wheels of the now 14 novels with spookily capable FBI Special Agent A.X.L (Aloysius) Pendergast, this tale returns to the always-dark questions lurking amid his intermittently brilliant and criminally insane family line. All of these moody novels contain elements of the creepy and exotic, the cruel and outlandish, plus entertaining mash-ups of strange, but genuine histories—this time, of the Salton Sea. As a fan-service bonus, this one even forced its characters back down into the research necropolis of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where the series all began with Relic.
CURRENTLY READING: Protectors 2: Heroes, an anthology of 55 stories (whew!) to support Protect, the political lobby of the National Association to Protect Children. (Full disclosure: I wrote a story appearing here, but there are so many others, don't let that dissuade you.) Among contributors yakking around this digital water cooler: editor Thomas Pluck, Hilary Davidson, Linda Rodriguez, Neliza Drew, Scott Adlerberg, Chad Eagleton, Laura K. Curtis *takes breath* but there are also stories from David Morrell, S.J. Rozan, Reed Farrel Coleman, Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, Joelle Charbonneau. . . That's not even close to everyone, because it's an almost ridiculous amount of awesome for a single volume. I've been impressed by every story I've read, and by The End, I may stuff my typing fingers down the garbage disposal in shame. But for now, I'm enjoying the read!
DERAILER OF BEST INTENTIONS: Magic. 1400s-1950s. This unexpected present popped right to the TBR's top, and I had to remove it for safety, as it's the tallest, fattest, glossiest, slipcovered coffee table book you can imagine, packed with incredible images and sneaky characters. There are “more than 850 rarely seen vintage posters, photographs, handbills, and engravings as well as paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and Caravaggio among others...” Noel Daniel edited, and I can't imagine how long that and the layout must've taken. There's additional text by magic experts Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, and Ricky Jay, who shares works from his private collection as well. If you love ephemera and illustration, not to mention the deceitful history behind invitational chicanery, this book's incomparable. It's the Devil's whole shooting match in a Sunday go-to-meeting tuxedo.
Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters. She edits The M.O. and site wrangles here, freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.