Friday, June 18, 2010

Books Out in the Boonies

Denis and I spent last week down in our favorite cottage outside Bisbee, Arizona. On our way down from Phoenix, we did something I'd been wanting to do for a long time: stop at the Singing Wind Bookshop, which you see in the photo to the left. There'll be a post in the future about the Singing Wind, but I thought I'd let you know that I did my bit for the Singing Wind's (and Benson's) economy.

I thought all of you fellow bookaholics would like to know which books came home with me. Here's the list:

  1. All the Wrong Moves by Merline Lovelace. "USAF Lieutenant Samantha Spade and her techies try out the latest gizmos for the military. On a test run with the Ergonomic Exoskeletal Extension (EEEK), Sam stumbles over two dead bodies in the desert. With the help of handsome Border Patrol Agent Jeff Mitchell, Sam must unravel a cover-up involving an illegal arms deal."
  2. Bisbee, Arizona Then and Now by Boyd Nicholl. "A photographic time- traveling adventure awaits when you open the cover of Bisbee, Arizona, Then and Now. Left pages feature historic photographs of the nineteenth century boomtown, while right pages depict the modern city. Standing in the footprints of the original photographers, Boyd Nicholl has captured life in Bisbee, a community that celebrates a rich heritage."
  3. Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss. "Desperate to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, thousands of men traveled West to the emerging frontier, where they outnumbered women twelve to one. Only after they arrived did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. Hearts West brings to life true stories of mail-order brides of the Gold Rush era. Some found soul mates; others found themselves in desperate situations. Complete with the actual hearts-and-hands personal advertisements that began some of the long-distance courtships, this fascinating book provides an up-close look at the leap of faith these men and women were willing to take."
  4. The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum. "Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Blum makes chemistry come alive in her enthralling account of two forensic pioneers in early 20th-century New York. Blum follows the often unglamorous but monumentally important careers of Dr. Charles Norris, Manhattan's first trained chief medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, its first toxicologist. Moving chronologically from Norris's appointment in 1918 through his death in 1936, Blum cleverly divides her narrative by poison, providing not only a puzzling case for each noxious substance but the ingenious methods devised by the medical examiner's office to detect them. Before the advent of forensic toxicology, which made it possible for the first time to identify poisons in corpses, Gettler learned the telltale signs of everything from cyanide (it leaves a corrosive trail in the digestive system) to the bright pink flush that signals carbon monoxide poisoning. In a particularly illuminating section, Blum examines the dangers of bootleg liquor (commonly known as wood, or methyl, alcohol) produced during Prohibition. With the pacing and rich characterization of a first-rate suspense novelist, Blum makes science accessible and fascinating."
  5. Medicine At the Mines of Miami by Charles T. Collopy, MD. "Medicine At the Mines of Miami details the experiences of Dr. Collopy during the 1950s in a small southwestern desert town where he lived life as a physician.... The tone... like Dr. Collopy himself-- is dryly humorous, yet full of compassion. This small book tells big, but true, stories of a bygone era." [Miami, like Bisbee, is another old mining town here in Arizona.]

  6. Girl With Skirt of Stars by Jennifer Kitchell. "Lilli Chischilly is a lawyer for the Navajo Nation who finds herself at the center of several dramas-the murder of a Navajo elder, the return of her childhood love, and the collision of a presidential campaign with a reservation community. Chischilly embarks on a symbolic river trip with presidential candidate Lee, his family and handlers, and her old flame Jerome. Stacked with dramatic tension, including Chischilly's doubts over the candidate's intentions towards her people and a would-be assassin with a score to settle against Lee, Kitchell's narrative can be awkward in its transitions, reintroducing lost plotlines abruptly. Still, the whole of the novel is tied together well by the Navajo perspective, presented with a matter-of-factness and lightness of touch that make it hard to believe that Kitchell, a geologist, isn't a Navajo herself; for that alone, she proves herself a new talent worth watching."
There you have the books that I just had to bring home with me. Not a bad haul, eh? I'll be writing up that post about the Singing Wind and choosing photos soon. Don't worry-- I'll let y'all be the first to read it when I'm done!


  1. I love stopping at bookstores on my travels -- looks like you indeed came home with a good batch.

  2. What a great way to start a vacation! Thanks for doing your part for the economy!

  3. One fine post, Cathy. I have to say, I only recall Lynn Bracken's reference to Bisbee from L.A. Confidential. Now I can expand that mention of. Thanks for this, Cathy.

  4. Beth-- I also came home knowing about another wonderful bookshop I can visit regularly!

    Kathy-- I do try! LOL

    Michael-- You're welcome. Bisbee's a wonderful place if you love old mining towns like I do.

  5. You got some really good books! I'm envious!

  6. Aths-- I've already been reading some of them, and I have to agree that they're good. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Those are some great books. I hope you enjoy The Poisoner's Handbook -- Deb is one of my journalism professors, and spent a lot of time in class talking about the book. I read it earlier this year and liked it.

  8. Kim-- Thanks for the thumbs up on The Poisoner's Handbook!


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