Here is where you will find what's new at St. Thomas' well-known, well-read Dockside Bookshop at Havensight Mall. Every week you will find new titles to peruse. Look for updates of our "picks" for fiction and nonfiction and, at the end of the reviews, a list of new paperback fiction.
" In The Company of Cheerful Ladies" by Alexander McCall Smith, Pantheon Books, fiction hardcover, 240 pp. $19.95
In the newest addition to the universally beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the charming and ever-resourceful Precious Ramotswe finds herself overly beset by problems. She is already busier than usual at the detective agency when added to her concerns are a strange intruder in her house on Zebra Drive and the baffling appearance of a pumpkin. And then there is Mma Makutsi, who decides to treat herself to dance lessons, only to be partnered with a man who seems to have two left feet. Nor are things running quite as smoothly as they usually do at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Mma Ramotswe's husband, the estimable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, is overburdened with work even before one of his apprentices runs off with a wealthy woman. But what finally rattles Mma Ramotswe's normally unshakable composure is a visitor who forces her to confront a secret from her past. . . .
All this unfolds against the sunlit background of Mma Ramotswe's beloved homeland, Botswana-a land of empty spaces, echoing skies, and an endless supply of soothing bush tea.
"Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, William Morrow & Company, non-fiction hardcover, 256 pp. $25.95.
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life — from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing — and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.
Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives — how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of … well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.
What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and — if the right questions are asked — is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how tosee through all the clutter.
Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.
"A Stroke of Midnight" by Laurell K. Hamilton Ballantine Books, fiction hardcover, 384 pp. $23.95
I am Meredith Gentry, P.I., solving cases in Los Angeles, far from the peril and deception of my real home-because I am also Princess Meredith, heir to the darkest throne faerie has to offer. The Unseelie Court infuses me with its power. But at what price does such magic come? How much of my human side will I have to give up, and how much of the sinister side of faerie will I have to embrace? To sit on a throne that has ruled through bloodshed and violence for centuries, I might have to become that which I dread the most.
Enemies watch my every move. My cousin Cel strives to have me killed even now from his prison cell. But not all the assassination attempts are his. Some Unseelie nobles have waited centuries for my aunt Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness, to become weak enough that she might be toppled from her throne. Enemies unforeseen move against us-enemies who would murder the least among us.
The threat will drive us to allow human police into faerie for the first time in our history. I need my allies now more than ever, especially since fate will lead me into the arm of Mistral, Master of Storms, the queen's new captain of her guard. Our passion will reawaken powers long forgotten among the warriors of the sidhe. Pain and pleasure await me-and danger, as well, for some at that court seek only death.
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