Baum on Books

Tory Bilski could have called her well-written and witty memoir of riding horses in northern Iceland “Wild Horses of the Midnight Sun,” but in naming it “Wild Horses of the Summer Sun,” shows her writing creds: the alliteration effectively plays on the popular image many people associate with this starkly beautiful land of lupine fields and black volcanic sand banks – not to mention Johnny Mercer’s lyrics in that old jazz standard, “Midnight Sun.” Like Mercer, Bilski evokes a nostalgic warmth for what is gone but indelibly remembered because it was so affecting. 

The title of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s suspenseful new psychological thriller is comforting . . . and sinister: “You are Not Alone.” The first-person protagonist is Shay Miller. She feels herself to be alone. Then she meets strangers who invite her into their exclusive gathering of young women. The group includes the sophisticated Moore sisters, who not only show her how to dress and act, but begin to make her uneasy. There’s something odd going on with them, though neither Shay nor the reader knows yet what it is.

In doing research for other books, journalist Phil Keith, with his co-author Tom Clavin, kept coming across footnote references to a relatively obscure but legendary war hero, an American born in 1895 whose father had been the son of a former slave. Their interest was piqued, and what followed was further research. And a new collaboration, “All Blood Runs Red.”

On the acknowledgment page to his new novel, “The Nickel Boys,” Colson Whitehead writes that in the summer of 2004, he learned about a 111-year-old reform school in Marianna, Florida – the Dozier School for Boys. It had been the subject of a recent Tampa Bay Times report, following discoveries by students at the University of South Florida of secret gravesites at the school. 

It’s hard to believe that Eve Karlin’s “City of Liars and Thieves: Love, Death, and Manhattan’s First Great Murder Mystery” is her first novel. The Author’s Note, alone, could stand as exemplary of how to incorporate research into historical fiction.