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beauty_breastOctober 1, 2016

Beauty and the Breast: A Tale of Breast Cancer, Love, and Friendship, by Merrill Joan Gerber

When Merrill Joan Gerber was diagnosed breast cancer, she set out on a journey familiar to too many women. It began with denial that her precious breasts, those shining birthrights that appear in adolescence and promise beauty, sex and the love of men, could become the agents of terror and even death. What followed was a parade of doctors and their treatments, of surgery, the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy, and the dangerous but life-saving beams of radiation to her breast. She found new friends in her cancer support group but lost three to the disease. Merrill recorded intimate conversations with her husband and daughters, took photographs of her breast in various stages of treatment, and also of the machinery that dispensed the treatments.

Merrill faced the complicated day-to-day topics—where do I get a wig, what can I eat, how will I sleep? She found a new appreciation for the blessings in her life, her beloved husband, their daughters, and their daughters’ children. As she recalled her parents’ illnesses, her childhood in Brooklyn, and her complicated relationship with her own breasts, she reflected on long-held notions of fear and death.

Merrill Joan Gerber is the author of thirty books and many short stories. She is the winner of an O. Henry Prize and the Ribalow Award from Hadassah magazine. In Beauty and the Breast, she bares her soul and her breasts as she navigates the terrors of cancer and learns with courage and gratitude what it means to be a survivor.

Many have reported on the cancer wars, but Merrill’s memoir delivers a special contribution of humor, passion, candor, real-life photos, and a poetic gift to the reader.

enter_gateNovember 1, 2016

Enter by the Narrow Gate, by David Carlson

A teenage girl has vanished in Santa Fe. Nearby, in the Trappist monastery of St. Mary of the Snows, a beautiful young nun is stabbed to death. Father Nicholas Fortis is on sabbatical at St. Mary’s, and when Lieutenant Christopher Worthy of the Detroit Police Department is flown in to help find the missing teenager, the Orthodox monk asks his friend to delve into the nun’s murder as well. The two men make a perfect team: the monk’s gregarious manner opens hearts and the detective’s keen intuition infiltrates psyches.

The Book of Matthew refers to the “narrow gate” that leads to heaven. Each of the key players in these two cases was rattling heaven’s gate in a frantic and even dangerous quest for salvation. Lieutenant Sera Lacey of the Santa Fe Police, with her captivating looks and insight into the Native Americans and cultures of the Southwest, proves both a boon and a distraction for Worthy. As Father Fortis navigates the social hierarchy of the monks of St. Mary’s, he begins to fear their secret agendas. Bowing to the pressure to solve both cases, the investigators let the clues lead them in opposite directions. At the end of one of those paths, Death awaits.

Book one in a new detective series featuring Christopher Worthy and Father Fortis.

Devils_farmFebruary 1, 2017

From the Devil’s Farm, by Leta Serafim

A Greek American tourist, Lydia Pappas, stumbles upon a child’s body in the ruins of an ancient temple, well hidden on the top of a cliff. The boy has been bled dry, though no blood is in evidence, leading the Greek police investigator, Yiannis Patronas, to believe the killer must have collected it. Greece’s financial crisis has reduced the police force on Sifnos to one officer, Petros Nikolaidis, so Patronas has been summoned from his home base of Chios to aid in the case. Accompanying him are his colleagues, Giorgos Tembelos and Evangelos Demos, as well as Papa Michalis, an ancient Orthodox priest with a vast knowledge of detective fiction and an uncanny ability to ferret out the truth. Though eccentric and often irritating, Michalis has been an asset to Patronas over the years in a land where homicide was, until recently, a rare occurrence. But Greece is changing daily, with a tide of migrants straining the country’s already diminished resources and occasionally bringing out the worst in her people.

The child appears to have been sacrificed according to the rules of a pagan religious ritual. Is someone on Sifnos reviving the old ways? Or is there a thrill killer loose on the island? Is the culprit a Greek national or one of the many foreign migrants crowding its refugee camps?

Book 3 in the Greek Islands Mystery series.

legimate_businessMarch 1, 2017

Legitimate Business, by Michael Niemann

Ritu Roy, a constable with an all-female United Nations peacekeeping unit in Darfur, Sudan, has been shot dead. Her superiors call it a random shooting. Her best friend thinks otherwise. She’s found a bullet casing from a sniper’s rifle, an uncommon weapon in the refugee camp. The case remains closed until Valentin Vermeulen arrives to conduct a routine audit. As an investigator with the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, his job is to ferret out fraud. The casing is the first clue that Ritu may have stumbled onto a major criminal operation.

Solving the mystery of Ritu’s death leads Vermeulen down a perilous path. With the help of journalist Tessa Bishonga, he visits the hidden camp of a notorious rebel leader. On the streets of Port Sudan he dodges a parade of shady characters. In the end, Vermeulen must expose the players in the not so “legitimate” business of supplying weapons to Sudan … before they can hunt him down.

Book 1 in the Valentin Vermeulen Thriller series.

illicit_tradeMarch 15, 2017

Illicit Trade, by Michael Niemann

Two poor Kenyan men visiting the U.S. are found dead, one in jail, one on the street. Both used forged UN documents to enter the country. Valentin Vermeulen’s superiors have no interest in the plight of undocumented immigrants, but they want him to stop the fraud. The clues take Vermeulen from New York City to Newark, where he riles a woman known as “The Broker,” then to Vienna.

Earle Jackson, a small-time hustler and the last person to speak with one of the dead Kenyans, has taken the man’s passport and money. He also finds a note listing an address in Newark, where his efforts to cash in on the situation go awry. Fleeing for his life, Jackson flies to Nairobi using the dead man’s passport.

Vermeulen and Jackson have chanced upon a criminal network more extensive and vicious than either could have imagined. To survive, Vermeulen must do more than sever a few links. He must find the mastermind at the top.

Book 2 in the Valentin Vermeulen Thriller series.