The Page Boy

The Black Tower
Louis Bayard
William Morrow

Louis Bayard, author of Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye, sets his latest novel in 1818 Paris. He uses factual material and historical characters—Vidocq, the first police detective, plus Louis-Charles, the missing, presumed-dead Dauphin, son of the executed Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and heir to the French throne—to set his own characters in relief. Primary among these is timid Hector Carpentier, a homebound mama’s boy living in reduced circumstances in her boardinghouse in the down-at-heels Latin Quarter. Hector’s life is as regular and monotonous as clockwork, until Vidocq finds his name on a bit of paper in a dead man’s pocket. Narrated by Hector, the book shows his metamorphosis from harried victim to a man emerging into his own life. All the while, the reader is swept up in the mystery of the Dauphin, the identity of the naïf “Charles,” who appears during their search: Is he the lost 10-year-old grown to manhood, or just another imposter?

Blinded by the Light: A Tess Camillo
Morgan Hunt
Alyson Books

MysteryHard on the heels of Morgan Hunt’s second Tess Camillo adventure, Fool on the Hill, comes number three, Blinded by the Light, an unexpectedly early treat for those hooked on Tess’s wisecracking sleuthing and romancing. This time, she accompanies her friend, Beth, and four others to an isolated desert “art installation”—400 steel rods in The Lightning Field—with the prospects of a magnificent show, if a storm happens along. One does, with accompanying pyrotechnics—and a death. It’s clear to the officials the multiple burns that caused the young woman’s demise were not a result of the lightning strikes, but look more like wounds made by the only available weapon, Beth’s taser. Just to up the ante, Beth is a fragile single mom-to-be, pregnant with a much-wanted child. When Beth is charged with the murder of the young woman, Tess moves heaven and earth to find the real killer. Unfortunately, the killer finds her first, and….

Case Study: A Taylor CaseMystery
C.R. Cardin
Evolution Press

This first Taylor Case mystery is a well-crafted, eerily compelling read. Taylor’s life has been haunted by the disappearance years ago of her little brother, David, while she was minding him during her family’s beach vacation. It is now her vocation to track down and turn in pedophiles involved worldwide in child-trafficking. Her life already rife with the unspeakable, she now learns her nephew’s best chum went missing on his way home from a visit. Taylor, frantic, physically pursues the missing boy when she feels the authorities aren’t aggressively following up on the few leads. Author Cardin has a real feel for the grittiness of her characters. She throws into the mix plot threads of twinship (the red-headed neighbor boy is the doppelganger of another boy also recently abducted), DNA forensics, a beautiful (and not altogether above suspicion) foreign lover, and some knock-down-drag-out mayhem. There’s more to come, and Cardin promises after another few books to reveal what became of David.

Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota
Doug Hoverson
University of Minnesota Press

The next best thing to quaffing a cold beer in good company is reading about the amber stuff in this handsome and thoroughly researched book. Hoverson is Associate Editor of American Breweriana Journal, a tasty-sounding publication involving brewery history. His additional creds: an “award-winning homebrewer and a certified beer judge.” He certainly brings a love for and enthusiasm about his subject to bear in this volume. If it was brewed or bottled in Minnesota, you’ll learn about it here. The text temptingly is enhanced by more than 300 illustrations. Starting with the 1849 establishment of the Territory of Minnesota—the propinquity of rivers, raw materials, and a sufficiency of thirsty customers—Hoverson brings the reader from “Pioneer Brewing” right up to today’s “Minnnesoa Brewpubs: Pairing Beer and Food.” The U of M Press “gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance provided” by both Summit and August Schell brewing companies for publication of this book—let’s raise a frosty glass to their fiscal philanthropy!

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