A look at a modern day “Green Acres” in this week’s Newsmax Rising Bestsellers examines the hits and misses (mostly misses) of a crazy, devil-may-care family trying out the farming life (with no prior knowledge or experience). Then there is a turn from the lighthearted and fun-filled to the dark and tragic. One book takes a second look at a tragic cold case murder of a young girl. Another is the memoir of a big city female death investigator. A final nonfiction pick chronicles the laughter and heartache at perhaps the most famous summer White House in American history — the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. In the fictional realm is the second novel in a new series of thrillers by today’s master of suspense — the prolific James Patterson.
“Circle of Death: A Shadow Thriller,” by James Patterson and Brian Sitts (Grand Central Publishing)
“The Shadow” was a popular radio series launched in 1930, which later became the subject of pulp fiction novels, a TV series, and a 1994 motion picture. James Patterson and Brian Sitts resurrect the story of the mysterious Lamont Cranston, a wealthy playboy and vigilante known only to a select few as “the Shadow,” which also features his socialite friend Margo Lane. In the first book of the series, he eliminated a threat to the city of New York. In this new installment, the entire world is in danger, which can only be addressed with a small team that Cranston assembles. “This second Shadow book was amazing,” said Heather Flaherty, reviewing for GoodReads. “Never a dull moment. I can’t wait for the third installment.” [Fiction]
“Fletchers on the Farm: Mud, Mayhem and Marriage. The new memoir of our life, love and family farm,” by Kelvin Fletcher and Liz Fletcher (HarperCollins)
“We jumped in at the deep end and bought a farm!” writes Kevin Fletcher. “A reluctant wife, a couple of crazy kids and a husband whose knowledge of farming you could write on the back of a stamp… What could go wrong?!” And “what could go wrong” is pretty much everything as childhood sweethearts Kevin and Liz Fletcher, along with their brood, embark on their adventure of a lifetime. “What they have achieved with the farm whilst continuing to raise four children and work as well is nothing short of remarkable,” wrote “Natalie,” reviewing for GoodReads. “Absolutely brilliant!” [Nonfiction]
“Little, Crazy Children: A True Crime Tragedy of Lost Innocence,” by James Renner (Citadel)
This is a true crime story that take a fresh look at a cold case, one in which a boy was charged and tried for the grisly murder of his 16-year-old female classmate in an upscale Ohio suburban neighborhood. The accused, who was fingered for essentially being “weird,” was ultimately acquitted. So who was responsible for the stabbing death of this lively pretty girl? Renner “gives us all the information, takes us on his journey and it’s easy to come to the same conclusions,” wrote “Ashley” for GoodReads. “I find a lot of books written about unsolved cases miss the landing but this book leaves you satisfied even with an unresolved case.” [Nonfiction]
“What the Dead Know: Learning About Life as a New York City Death Investigator,” by Barbara Butcher (Simon & Schuster)
Barbara Butcher is only the second female death investigator hired by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, and she’s the only one who stuck around — in her case for more than 20 years. Although the work was grimy, exhausting, morbid, and sometimes even filled with danger, she loved it. Could it be her name? Butcher? She was able to complete her recovery from alcoholism and learn surprising life lessons by the act of dealing with death every single day. “I read forensic textbooks, peer reviewed journal articles, general non-fiction crime books, and even a novel here and there,” wrote reviewer John J. Baeza. “Although I have read books written by death investigators, this is the best one I've ever read. It is gritty, realistic, sometimes funny, and very brave. Barbara bares her soul to the reader.” [Nonfiction]
“White House by the Sea: A Century of the Kennedys at Hyannis Port,” by Kate Storey (Scribner)
Many remember the Kennedy years and Camelot, the summer White House at Hyannis Port and images of the family sailing on Nantucket Sound. It all takes in added significance this year with JFK’s nephew, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hyannis Port, set on the Atlantic shores of Cape Cod, has been synonymous with the Kennedy clan for decades. It’s where they all gather to celebrate and to grieve. It was the venue for the wedding of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s where then-Sen. Ted Kennedy went to regroup after the tragedy at Chappaquiddick. But more than anything it’s where they played. “A beautifully written and extensively researched fresh take on the family,” wrote Jeffrey Fisher. “I’m not usually a big history reader but the unique stories and characters in this one really came to life and created a unique sense of place and time for me. A very interesting book that is clearly backed by very in-depth research but also reads like a fiction novel. Loved it!” [Nonfiction]
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