THE HOSPITAL: LIFE, DEATH, AND DOLLARS IN A SMALL AMERICAN TOWN by Brian Alexander (St. Martin's). There are medical dramas in this intimate account of a small-town hospital struggling to serve its …
THE HOSPITAL: LIFE, DEATH, AND DOLLARS IN A SMALL AMERICAN TOWN by Brian Alexander (St. Martin's). There are medical dramas in this intimate account of a small-town hospital struggling to serve its patients and its town; but the economic drama is gut-wrenching, and illuminates much about our hopelessly tangled health care system. So, not all inspiring; but the issues that are addressed coolly and in practical terms by this smart, alert author, should be assigned reading for every American politician and voter.
WE ARE BELLINGCAT: GLOBAL CRIME, ONLINE SLEUTHS, AND THE BOLD FUTURE OF NEWS by Eliot Higgins (Bloomsbury). Somebody once said that secrets have a psychic value similar to that of wealth: owning some feels enlarging, whatever else you may have or lack. So Higgins may be thought of as something of a socialist of information, promoting the redistribution of knowing. He has created what we might call a cyberdetection operation of startling ingenuity and increasingly valuable productivity. (Just now—too recently to have made it into this book—it was Bellingcat that discovered who had Nancy Pelosi's laptop, and informed authorities.) His book isn't boastful, though; hardly bashful, but more explanatory, about Bellingcat's considerable history, something of its ingenious methods, and its dedication to the sometimes scary, sometimes infuriating (to its owners) redistribution of inside stuff. So, maybe Bellingcat is not so much a socialist of secrets as a Robin Hood? Not much swordplay and singing, here, rather a lot of extremely shrewd peering at screens, looking for things to click on; but they do seem to enjoy the work.
RED WIDOW by Alma Katsu (Putnam). A first venture into spy fiction by the author of supernatural fantasy that the column has liked, but who seems to have belonged in espionage all along, given her personal history in the actual CIA. Here, we have inside-the-agency scheming between two very smart, determined women—maybe just careerism, but maybe a lot more sinister, and every bit of it convincing and with emotional charge as well as the expected and amply furnished espionage tension.
THE KAISER'S WEB by Steve Berry (Minotaur). And a new Cotton Malone edge-of-history action novel, well up bestseller lists again this time (even before the column could recommend it, of all things!). The historical invention is untiring; European history may be radically re-written (again), and contemporary politics remade, too, by what the team is about to discover about Hitler in his fatal bunker. If you're not already a regular, this is a fine place to start.
DON'T TURN AROUND by Jessica Barry (Harper). Trade paperback reprint of the fierce woman-centered on-the-road thriller that the column recommended a year or so ago; by the new star author of the similarly excellent FREEFALL, of a year before that.
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