"The Damned Season," by Carlo Lucarelli. This sequel to "Carte Blanche" continues the story of Commissario De Luca, whose work for Mussolini's regime, however unwilling, has put him in danger now that Mussolini is no longer in power. On the run under an assumed name and without papers, De Luca is blackmailed by the local police into helping solve the brutal murder of an entire family. Lucarelli presents readers with an unblinking look at a post-war society on the edge of anarchy, and a man doing his best to stay alive and yet true to himself.
"Paper Hearts," by Debrah Williamson. When Chancy runs away from foster care, she hopscotches her way across Oklahoma, finally landing in Max Boyle's garage. Max, elderly and alone except for his dog and his social worker, is about to end it all rather than be shunted into assisted care when he finds Chancy sleeping in the backseat of his car. He hatches a plan that will save both of them from the vagaries of Social Services, and a makeshift family is born in this gentle feel-good novel.
"An Absolute Gentleman," by R.M. Kinder. To his neighbors, Arthur Blume is simply a charming and popular creative writing professor - until the police come for him. It turns out that his psyche is as twisted and dark as his hidden upbringing was, and he is prone to unexpected and deadly violence. Here, he tells his story, beginning with his birth to a psychotic mother who regularly locked him in a closet for his protection during her episodes. Thanks to his genes and his mothering, Blume is a psychopath who is able to convince all of his sincere charm and goodness. That he has fooled others his whole life is a chilling testimony to his acting and to the average human's ability to ignore what we don't want to see.
"The Ladies of Grace Adieu," by Susanna Clarke. Readers who are anxiously awaiting Clarke's next novel (following her debut "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell") will enjoy this collection of previously-published short stories as a stopgap. These forays into the world of Faerie have their roots in classic tales but are given a modern sensibility in their execution. Clarke's lovely use of language may need a bit of perseverance, as in "On Lickerish Hill," which is written in dialect, but overall, fans of Gaiman's fantasies, Grimm's tales, and Clarke's first book will find this an otherworldly read.
"The Crows," by Maris Soule. When tax accountant PJ Benson comes home from a walk with her Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, the last thing she expects is a bloody handprint on her door and a dead stranger in her dining room. Her neighbors believe they know the man and suspect industrial espionage, but won't talk to the police. Suddenly PJ's got a few new problems: she's seeing crows flying through her house, hearing long-dead voices on her phone, and been asked to locate a box of deadly ladybugs. Has her mother's schizophrenia has been passed to her or is someone trying to scare her into silence?
"Salamander Cotton," by Richard Kunzmann. Set in contemporary South Africa, this murder mystery takes readers into a brutal man's life and death. Bernard Klamm, a wealthy ex-mining boss, is gruesomely murdered at his home in Johannesburg, and Detective Inspector Jacob Tshabalala finds nothing about Klamm's past to invite sympathy. Klamm's estranged wife is convinced that her husband's murder is connected to the murder of their daughter 30 years before. The deeper Tshabalala and his partner dig, the more convinced they become that something has been very wrong for a very long time. Kunzmann has created memorable characters in a fascinating landscape in this disturbing and compelling mystery.
The Juneau Public Libraries' annual St. Patrick's Day celebration, featuring stories and music for all ages, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Douglas library.
Also, the Poetry Omnibus poetry winners will be presented in a ceremony at 7 p.m. at the downtown library.
For information about any Juneau Public Libraries' programs or to place a hold on any materials, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.