Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature.

After university and before his success with his Rebus novels, Ian had a number of jobs including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Following his marriage in 1986, he lived briefly in London where he worked at the National Folktale Centre, followed by a short time living in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian’s first novel Summer Rites remains in his bottom drawer, but his second novel, The Flood, was published in 1986, while his first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987. The Rebus series is now translated into twenty-two languages and the books are bestsellers on several continents. In addition to his Rebus and Malcolm Fox novels, he has also written standalone novels including Doors Open, which was televised in 2012, short stories, a graphic novel – Dark Entries, and a play (with Mark Thomson, the Royal Lyceum Theatre’s Artistic Director) Dark Road, which premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013. There are also a number of novels under the pseudonym ‘Jack Harvey’ and in 2005 he collaborated with singer Jackie Leven on a CD. His non-fiction book Rebus’s Scotland was published in 2005.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and Germany’s Deutscher Krimipreis.

Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Hull, Abertay, St Andrews and Edinburgh as well as The Open University.

A regular contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts on Channel 4 in 2002 and Rankin on the Staircase for BBC Four in 2005. In 2007, Rankin appeared in Ian Rankin’s Hidden Edinburgh and Ian Rankin Investigates Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde also for BBC Four. Ian has been the subject of ITV’s South Bank Show and BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs where his choice of music included Joy Division, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.

Ian has received an OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons.


Veteran cop John Rebus emerges from retirement to look into a pair of parallel cases of revenge.

When David Menzies Minton, former Lord Advocate of Scotland, is bludgeoned to death in his Edinburgh home, DI Siobhan Clarke shares one crime-scene detail she shouldn’t with her friend DI Malcolm Fox: a note saying, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID.” After someone shoots at crime lord Big Ger Cafferty, she also rousts John Rebus, a month into his retirement, from his usual station at the Oxford Bar. As a detective, Rebus had developed an odd working relationship with Cafferty. So now he agrees to be a consultant, especially after Cafferty gets the same death-threat note as Minton. There’s no obvious link between Minton’s murder and the attempted hit on Cafferty, however, and even less connection with a past break-in and the murder of a lottery winner. Meanwhile, Fox reluctantly becomes his boss’ spy for a surveillance team that hopes to take down a Glaswegian gangster and his heir apparent, who’ve come to Edinburgh on the trail of a man who betrayed them. It’s not easy for a man widely regarded as an internal snitch to win the team’s confidence. Fox even has to take a beating from the man he suspects is the team’s undercover member. But he takes a cue from Rebus, who was notorious for going his own way when he was a cop and is even more inclined to do so as a civilian. It pays off when Rebus uses his connections and know-how to help Clarke and Fox find the key they’ve been looking for, a terrible secret that spills into the turf war among criminal factions and exposes the past lives of those supposedly on the right side of the law.

Rankin (The Beat Goes On, 2015, etc.) takes his time setting up all these plots. But it’s well worth the wait to see how the latest entry in this celebrated series fits all the pieces together.


The audio book is read by James Macpherson with an authentic Scottish accent and is 11 hrs and 10 mins long.

Watch a YouTube video of Ian Rankin discussing Even Dogs in the WildYouTube.



Kate Morton is the eldest of three sisters. She was born in South Australia and moved with her family numerous times before settling, finally, on Tamborine Mountain. There she attended a tiny country school and spent much of her childhood inventing and playing games of make-believe with her sisters.

Kate fell avidly in love with books very early. Her favorites were those by Enid Blyton, and Kate escaped many times up the Faraway Tree or with the Famous Five into smugglers’ cove. It was a love deeply felt, for it is still mysteries and secrets that dance around the edges of Kate’s mind, keeping her awake deep into the night, turning or typing pages.

When she finished school, Kate studied and earned a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. After an ill-fated attempt to ‘do something sensible’ and obtain an Arts/Law degree, she went on to complete a summer Shakespeare course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and for sometime believed her future lay in theatre. Until one day, quite simply and clearly, she realized that it wasn’t performing she was in love with. It was words.

Although she’d read and scribbled from before she could remember, it hadn’t occurred to Kate, until that time, that real books were written by real people. She began writing in earnest and completed two full length manuscripts (which lie deep and determinedly within a bottom drawer) before settling finally into the story that would become The Shifting Fog (The House at Riverton), which has been published in 26 countries to date.

Concurrently, Kate enrolled in a degree in English Literature at the University of Queensland, graduating with First Class Honors. On that basis she won a scholarship and proceeded to complete a Masters degree focusing on tragedy in Victorian literature.

Kate is married to Davin, a composer, and they have two young sons. All four live together in a nineteenth-century home replete with its own ghosts and secrets. Kate’s second novel, The Forgotten Garden was published in 2008. Her third novel, The Distant Hours, was published in 2010, The Secret Keeper was published in 2012.


A suspected kidnapping, a once-proud manor house, and a disgraced police officer all figure in Morton’s latest multigenerational Cornish saga.

In 2003, Sadie is put on administrative leave from her post with the London police force for getting too involved in a child-abandonment case. She retreats to her grandfather’s house in Cornwall, and there, while jogging, she happens upon the ruin of what locals inform her is Loeanneth, the ancestral lakeside manse of the deShiel family. The story ricochets among 2003, 1911, and 1933 as we learn that Eleanor deShiel, who inspired a children’s book reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, became the chatelaine of Loeanneth thanks to a Downton Abbey–esque plot twist in which, due to the Titanic disaster, new husband Anthony Edevane inherits enough money to reclaim her birthright from creditors. But when Anthony goes to war, he returns shell-shocked and prone to unpredictable outbursts. Meanwhile, their children, Deborah, Alice and Clemmie, frolic on the grounds, oblivious to their parents’ difficulties. Alice, 16, is a budding mystery writer (whose future fame will equal Agatha Christie’s), but in 1933 she’s nursing a teenage crush on Ben, an impecunious gardener. As a lark, she concocts a hypothetical scenario which might have prompted Ben to kidnap Theo, her baby brother. Flashbacks reveal that Deborah and Clemmie also have reason to blame themselves for Theo’s disappearance during an all-night Midsummer’s Eve party—he was never found and his fate remains unknown. At loose ends, Sadie investigates this cold case, developing several theories. As the various skeins intersect, the story becomes unwieldy; using multiple narrators, Morton can believably withhold information to build suspense, but when such selective nondisclosure is carried to extremes, frustrated readers may be tempted to practice their skimming.

An atmospheric but overlong history of family secrets and their tormented gatekeepers.


The audio book is read by James Macpherson authentically with a Scottish accent and is 11 hrs and 10 mins long.

Watch a YouTube video of Kate Morton introducing The Lake House YouTube.



Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym) was born in Naples and is is one of Italy’s most famous but least-known contemporary writers. She is the author of The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. Her Neapolitan novels include My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stayand The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final volume in the series.

REVIEW BY ROSEANN LLOYD Special to the Star Tribune

Elena Ferrante’s rich, sprawling quartet that concludes with this new book, “The Story of the Lost Child,” centers on two lifelong friends, Lenú (Elena Greco) and Lila (Raffaella Cerullo). The first volume begins with a classic murder mystery scene: Lenú receives a phone call in the night that her friend has disappeared. Lenú decides to write everything she can remember about her friend, and so becomes the narrator.

Fiction like this is not often written: the friendship of two girls becoming women in the context of their culture, a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Naples in postwar Italy, with all its superstitions, politics, corruption, sexism and violence. Of special note is Ferrante’s detailed and dramatic descriptions of the struggle girls must make to advance in school.

Now the fourth book, “The Story of the Lost Child,” finds the women in the 1970s, middle-aged workers and mothers, somewhat estranged. Lila, the defiant and creative one, who has become a computer whiz and entrepreneur over the years, lives with her husband in Naples. Lenú’s cautious trajectory led her out of Naples to complete her education. In Florence, she publishes her writing but struggles with isolation, child care, work deadlines, marital difficulties. A love affair presents a solution and leads her back to Naples in 1979.

The two friends come together and help each other with their mutual concerns: child care, aging parents, work, reassessment of men and their childhood neighbors. They look after the children with loving joy and competition. As in the previous books, they are each other’s alter ego, critic and sometimes confidante. “Her approval gave me confidence,” writes Lenú.

Lila, on the other hand, speaks of dissolving boundaries, scientific knowledge and snap judgments of people. Together, they plot and carry out an exposé of local corruption, among other adventures.

One ordinary Sunday afternoon, in the midst of a happy crowd, a child goes missing. People rush to search. “A rumor took hold that later prevailed. The child had left the sidewalk to chase a blue ball. But just at that moment a truck was passing.”

The last hundred pages of the book reverberate with the story of the lost child, which connects to other losses in the community. The ’60s leftist friend, still underground. Lila’s brother, Gino, a heroin addict. Lenú’s older children in the U.S. Alfonso, a transvestite, beaten to death by thugs. Lila’s loss of hope for a revival for Naples. Lenú’s loss of youthful energy.

Inevitably, as the author promised, the end is a return to the beginning. Lila is gone. Ferrante gives us a brilliant, ambivalent ending, open to interpretation. Yet the ending gives a magical benediction to the lifelong friendship of Lila and Lenú. The last sentence haunts me: “I must resign myself to not seeing her anymore.”


The audio book is read perfectly by Hillary Huber who has narrated all of the Neapolitan novels and is 18 hrs and 27 mins long.

Watch YouTube video A Brief Guide to Elena Ferrante with Joanna Walsh. YouTube.



Jason Matthews is a retired officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. Over a thirty-three-year career
he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national security
intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations. Matthews conducted recruitment operations
against Soviet–East European, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean targets.

As Chief in various CIA Stations, he collaborated with foreign partners in counterproliferation and
counterterrorism operations.

This is Jason Matthews’ second book,
which is somewhat a continuation of his first, The Red Sparrow. He lives in Southern California.


A sexy Russian spy trained in the fine art of seduction and recruited as an American double agent helps set up a double-cross that could pit Russia against Iran in this blockbuster by former CIA operative Matthews.

Capt. Dominika Egorova, an agent of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, is spying for the U.S. A synesthete who can tell what’s in a person’s heart and mind by his or her aura, Dominika graduated from Sparrow School, where she learned how to seduce secrets from powerful people. Now she’s being drawn into President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, and Marty Gable, a deputy CIA station chief, and Nate Nash, Dominika’s handler and lover, are looking to exploit that connection. At the same time, Nate’s also working with a new mole, disillusioned Lt. Gen. Mikhail Solovyov. When Nate reconnects with Dominika in Vienna to elicit important intelligence from Persian nuclear scientist Dr. Parvis Jamshidi and attempt to throw a kink in Iran’s bomb-building efforts, Dominika’s loathsome boss, Alexei Zyuganov, decides to have her killed. Soon, another mole comes into play, this time in the U.S. government, and both Dominika and the general find their lives on the line. Matthews’ vast experience working in the shadowy world of espionage and spycraft lends an authenticity to his story that few can equal. And it doesn’t hurt that he can write. There’s plenty of action and many taut moments, but readers shouldn’t open a Matthews book expecting James Bond. While Ian Fleming’s work had a bit of a campy feel to it, Matthews doesn’t take that approach; his spies are grittier and more human, more like those of John le Carré, and his knowledge of the inner workings of that world adds authenticity that other current writers simply can’t approach.

Although Matthews’ technique of using food as a running theme (complete with recipes) doesn’t always work, this is another must-read for fans of the spy genre.

A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.


The audio book is read is superbly by Jeremy Bobb and is 20 hrs and 7 mins long.

Watch YouTube video of Jason Matthews discussing writing Palace of Treason. YouTube.


Cheryl Strayed was born in Spangler, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1968. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and earned a graduate degree in fiction writing from Syracuse University. Her first book, Torched, debuted in 2006, and the autobiographical work paved the way for Wild, a memoir of Strayed’s life-changing hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild went on to become a New York Times No. 1 bestseller and Oprah Winfrey’s first pick for her relaunched book club. The film version premiered December 5, 2014 (USA).


Unsentimental memoir of the author’s three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the
Pacific Crest Trail.

Following the death of her mother, Strayed’s (Torch, 2006) life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years, life was a series of disappointments. “I was crying over all of it,” she writes, “over the sick mire I’d made of my life since my mother died; over the stupid existence that had become my own. I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly.” While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge (“the Bridge of the Gods”) crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed’s writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way, she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a newfound sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was “powerful and fundamental” and “truly hard and glorious.” Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, “the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.”

A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.


The audio book is read by Bernadette Dunne and is 13 hrs and 6 mins long.

Watch YouTube video of Cheryl Strayed discussing writing Wild. YouTube.

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