by Sukey HowardOctober 2010
Tipping the scales
In the 19th century, we managed to wipe out the millions of bison that roamed the plains. Now, in the 21st century, we’re on the brink of overfishing the oceans and wiping out the “last wild food” on earth. This sad state of fish-affairs is not hot news; many scientists, writers and journalists have been sounding the alarm for years and some government control is being exercised, but as you sink your teeth into that super-fresh tuna sushi or lusciously prepared plate of sea bass, you really should think about what you’re eating, where it comes from and if it has a future. Paul Greenberg, food journalist, fisherman and impassioned pescophile, provides the takeaway on all these issues in Four Fish, read with wonderful attention to action and accents by Christopher Lane. Focusing on salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna, Greenberg weaves his own personal fish story into a fascinating sea of deeply researched information on our fisheries, their depletion and the worldwide attempts—foul and fruitful—to farm fish, introducing us to fascinating fish-folk who have devoted their lives to fostering the production of seafood. And he offers his well-considered, quietly optimistic prescriptions for maintaining this magnificent source of protein and pleasure.
COMRADE KILLER, COMRADE CAPTAIN
Watch out, Martin Cruz Smith, there’s a new kid on the block and he’s really good. William Ryan’s debut opus, The Holy Thief, set in Moscow in 1936, stars Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev, a detective in the Moscow Militia who might eventually give Arkady Renko a run for his rubles. In Stalin’s Soviet state, this was a time of privation, purges, propaganda and pervasive cynicism. But Captain Korolev, a man with a strong belief in the promise of the Soviet future and a lingering faith in God, is one of those indefatigable crime solvers who go after the bad guys, knowing it could cost him his career and his life. Asked to investigate the death of a young woman, he discovers that she was an American citizen who may have been trying to buy one of the holiest icons of the Russian Orthodox church. More mutilated bodies turn up, and suddenly, Korolev is in a swirl of danger from the upper echelons of the feared NKVD and the treacherous Moscow underworld. Flawlessly narrated, as expected, by Simon Vance.
AUDIO OF THE MONTHWriter James Lee Burke and actor Will Patton are a perfect pairing—a match made in audio heaven that only gets better and better. In The Glass Rainbow, the 18th (and maybe the best) Dave Robicheaux novel, Burke, with Patton to interpret, takes his unique amalgam of lush, lyric prose that gives life and texture to his beloved bayous, deftly plotted mystery, abiding empathy for the poor and powerless and brilliant character realization to a new level. Unable to resist an investigation into a series of murders of young women in the next parish, Dave and his tiger-tough, volcanically volatile best buddy from their old NOPD days, Clete Purcel, come face to face and fist to fist with the kind of evil that revels in ruthless power and careless perversion. As always, Dave fights for the victims, for what’s right and moral, as he struggles with his Vietnam War-fueled demons and, this time, with persistent intimations of mortality. A must for Robicheaux fans.