When I was living the good life in Michigan some two years past, I had this great job where I bought adult fiction for seven libraries. I loved this job. It was good.
I've since spent the last two years managing a library in Southern California, and not buying books. I know this sounds weird to some, but I work for a very large library system so most of the ordering is done at our centrally located, administrative headquarters. Which is where I am stationed now - working in collection development buying adult fiction for all of our libraries. Trust me, it's a lot more than seven.
So I've literally been out of the loop for two years. I'd forgotten little details - like how publisher's catalogs and review journals are really darn tempting. Books that normally fall under my radar are shoved in my face and I find my shopping list growing and growing and growing....
Case in point, these two gems due out this summer. Take a gander:
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard, June 2006.
When a grisly murder takes place on the grounds of West Point, a retired New York City detective, Gus Landor, who's moved to the Hudson Valley for his health, is recruited to solve the case. He's reluctant to get involved and does so only on the condition that he can enlist the aid of a cadet to be his spy among the others. He chooses an unlikely candidate, a young, somewhat eccentric, cadet named Edgar Allan Poe. Working together, Landor and Poe narrow down the suspects, all the while dealing with their own personal demons.
A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle, August 2006.
In George Appo's world, child pickpockets swarmed the crowded streets, addicts drifted in furtive opium dens, and expert swindlers worked the lucrative green-goods game. On a good night Appo made as much as a skilled laborer made in a year. Bad nights left him with more than a dozen scars and over a decade in prisons from the Tombs and Sing Sing to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he reunited with another inmate, his father. The child of Irish and Chinese immigrants, Appo grew up in the notorious Five Points and Chinatown neighborhoods. He rose as an exemplar of the "good fellow," a criminal who relied on wile, who followed a code of loyalty even in his world of deception. Here is the underworld of the New York that gave us Edith Wharton, Boss Tweed, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
I think my library card is about to get a workout.