Also on the list: Seattle journalist Eli Sanders’ true-crime account, “While the City Slept.”

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Lit Life

Books new in paperback include the latest in Richard Russo’s North Bath saga, a new Rebus mystery by Ian Rankin, and an investigative deep dive into the life and times of Donald Trump:


“The Magician King” by Lev Grossman (Penguin, $16). If you are a fan of the Syfy Channel series “The Magicians,” check out the series it is based on. “The Magician King” is the second installment, in which the beleaguered hero Quentin Coldwater, an existentially tortured grown-up version of Harry Potter, tries to find his way back to the lost kingdom of Fillory. Complications ensue. Or just try the first book in this series, “The Magicians,” a superior book.

“The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan (Penguin, $16). This novel, shortlisted for the National Book Award in fiction, tells the story of a group of schoolboys caught up in a lethal explosion in a Delhi market. It follows the impact of the event on the lives of the boys’ families, and on the bomber himself. The New York Times called it “smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout.”

“Even Dogs in the Wild” by Ian Rankin (Back Bay Books, $15.99). Rankin’s gritty series about renegade (and now retired) detective John Rebus shows no signs of flagging. In this installment Rebus finds himself in the crossfire of a territorial battle between two lords of the Edinburgh underworld. From the Guardian: “playful dialogue, peppered with tangy banter and beefy put-downs, satisfying plot switchbacks, the dark, brooding setting of Edinburgh, and a strong thematic coherence.” Exactly.

“Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff (HarperPerennial, $15.99). The talented Seattle-based fantasy author spins a tale set in a Jim Crow America, circa the 1950s, and the many Lovecraftian threats that confront an African-American family. “ ‘Lovecraft Country’ is bound to appeal to any reader who wants to delve into the strangeness of our land’s racial legacy,” said Nisi Shawl in a Seattle Times review.

“Everybody’s Fool” by Richard Russo(Vintage, $16.95). The delightful Richard Russo is back with the further adventures of his characters who call the Rust Belt town North Bath home. Donald “Sully” Sullivan plays a part, but the focus is on Doug Raymer, the North Bath police chief tormented both by the untimely death of his wife and the suspicion that she was unfaithful.


“The Confidence Game” by Maria Konnikova (Penguin Books, $17). The witty and insightful author of “Mastermind” analyzes what makes true con artists tick, and how they manage to make otherwise rational, intelligent people fall for their game.

“Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President” by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher(Scribner, $18). Kranish is an investigative political reporter for The Washington Post; Fisher is a senior editor. Based on that paper’s superb reporting on the Trump era so far, I bet there is some useful information in this deep dig into Trump’s life and his business record.

“Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer(Anchor, $17). Investigative journalist Mayer’s examination of the influence on American politics of right-wing families, including the Koch brothers, the Scaifes, the Olins and the Bradleys. With a new post-Trump election preface.

“The Shepherd’s Life” by James Rebank (Flatiron Books, $17.99). The delightful memoir of Englishman Rebank, AKA the Herdwick Shepherd, who raises sheep for a living in England’s Lake District, as he tends his flock through four seasons of the year. Strange but true: This book was inspired by Rebank’s Twitter account, which propelled his his timeless photos to global fame. You can follow him at @herdyshepherd1.

“While the City Slept” by Eli Sanders (Penguin, $17). Stranger associate editor Sanders’ heartbreaking true story of the vicious 2009 attack on two women in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the crime in the Stranger, followed the story of the survivor and the arrest and prosecution of the killer, the mentally disturbed son of an Ugandan immigrant who fled the country’s civil war. At booksellers Feb. 7.