Baum on Books

Book Review: Forgotten in Death

Sep 3, 2021

Forgotten in Death is the 53rd book in J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas murder mystery series, as in fill-in-the-first-word: “_____ in Death,”  the first book being Naked in Death in 1995, and the one before this one, Faithless in Death


I confess — before this new one I had read no Robb books — a total of 220 including romance novels written under her real name, Nora Roberts. A commercial success, with reportedly over 500 million copies of her books in print, an author who earns praise from the likes of Stephen King, Harlan Coben and David Balducci, Robb finally got to me — even though Connecticut and The Hamptons are only occasional settings for bodies turning up.

Book Review: Monument

Aug 13, 2021

It can’t be easy writing a new book in a series because you have to consider readers who may be coming to you for the first time, as well as keep up with characters fans tell you they want to see back. But longtime Richmond Virginia newspaperman Howard Owen showed 10 books ago in his Willie Black murder mysteries that he can continue to create absorbing new challenges for Willie, his smart, sardonic, biracial protagonist reporter, now 60, and still working the police night beat because — well, a couple of novels back — he misbehaved. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are books galore about American presidents — biographies, memoirs, analyses by colleagues, family members, scholars, journalists, by presidents themselves — but Gary Ginsberg hits on something new: a close-up look at various presidents through the eyes of their closest companions.

Book Review: BALD

Jul 16, 2021

Here’s a book that’s well named: “Bald.” To emphasize the point, the cover contains an illustration of a man in profile, his pate as smooth as stone, and a back flap front-face photo that shows one hairless Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy, looking a bit perturbed. But not because he’s bald. Critchley announces the fact as his opening sentence: “I’m bald.” The condition started when he was 19 and then, he says, “like the Roman Empire, my hair went into a long and irreversible decline and fall.”

Erik Larson is so good a storyteller that as you read through The Splendid and the Vile, his magnificent saga of Winston Churchill during the bombing of Britain — “the year Churchill became Churchill,” as Larson says — you wonder how it will all turn out! The book is what’s been said of Larson’s earlier works: “addictively readable.”