FALLOUT: THE HIROSHIMA COVER-UP AND THE REPORTER WHO . . . by Lesley M. M. Blume (Simon & Schuster). If you've read John Hersey's classic book on America's nuclear behavior in Japan, you mightn't …
FALLOUT: THE HIROSHIMA COVER-UP AND THE REPORTER WHO . . . by Lesley M. M. Blume (Simon & Schuster). If you've read John Hersey's classic book on America's nuclear behavior in Japan, you mightn't learn much, factually, from this deeply researched, beautifully written new book—which is, indeed, partly about Hersey's heroic work in clearing away tactical and moral obfuscation and creating his book. And it's bold to claim that he'd be proud of this new one if he were with us to read it, but that's what I'm telling you. Blume is herself a superb serious journalist/historian; her facts and their meanings don't replace Hersey's but enrich our understanding of them; there's no dispute, but an open discussion in depth of the moral meanings of being the only nation on earth ever to use one of those weapons—and, for no reason that's entirely persuasive in afterthought, to use a second one on another city a few days later. Oh, and the unwholesome little crew of nations that have such weapons at hand, today, come up, too.
SAFECRACKER by Ryan Wick (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's). A version of this appeared in June, mistaking the book's publication date: This hard-edged first thriller can't help reminding us of Donald Westlake's antihero Parker; but this is Parker and then some. Violence is spectacular, plotting is complicated and clever, characters are a dandy assortment of shady types. (Hm-m . . . yup—still true, every word.)
THE BURDEN OF TRUTH by Neal Griffin (Tom Doherty/Forge). If “crime fiction” isn't a term meaning “thrillers for grown-ups,” it ought to be, and this crime novel should settle the case. It's full of action, intricately structured, and also full of people you haven't known before but who'll be among your most interesting friends, now. Has elements of police procedural mystery, and a cast of characters whose social place and ethnic history—Mexican, and Mexican American; this is small-town Southern California—are vividly present without ever being caricatured. Griffin, a former police officer but a fully committed novelist, now (this is his fourth) will be one to follow, whatever neighborhoods he cares to take us into.
SWEET SORROW by David Nicholls (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The best novel of first love that I've read in the life of this column. It's nostalgic, from the POV of a middle-aged man reflecting on his adolescence; and it's sweet and smart in full and equal measure. Very hard to describe honestly without making it sound sappy, which it very much isn't; these are complicated kids, sweet, tough, half-nuts at moments, and not cartoon characters.
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