Spring books are rolling in, so many good ones by and about Minnesotans that it’s hard to decide which to highlight. In fiction, mystery / crime writers have been busy, with several new books in popular series, as well as intriguing debuts. In nonfiction, we have the first deep look into the life of George Floyd as well as an examination of the Slenderman attack on a girl by her two friends in Wisconsin. Here’s your clip-and-save list, compiled with information from early readers’ copies and publishers, listed by publication dates. This is only the first wave of books for spring / summer. We’ll bring new ones to you as fast as we can.
“The Agathas” by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson (Delacorte Press) – Alice Ogilvie’s best friend has disappeared in the town of Castle Cove, and Alice and her tutor, Iris, try to solve the mystery with help from books by Agatha Christie. They have no idea of the danger they are walking into. Glasgow, a former Minnesotan who lives in Tucson, Ariz., Is the bestselling author of “Girl in Pieces” and “You’d Be Home Now.” Lawson is the author of “The Lucky Ones,” one of Kirkus’ Best Books of 2020. She lives in Washington, DC (May 3)
“The Barrens: A Novel of Love & Death in the Canadian Arctic” by Kurt Johnson and Ellie Johnson (Arcade Publishing) – Two young women embark on a summer adventure canoeing the rapids-strewn Thelon River that runs through the uninhabited Barren Lands of subarctic Canada in this debut novel by a father-daughter writing team who live in St. Paul. When one of the women falls and soon dies, her partner, an inexperienced paddler, has to continue the grueling and dangerous trip alone to save herself and return her lover’s body to civilization. (May 3)
“The Moments Between Dreams” by Judith F. Brenner (Greenleaf Book Group Press) – In this debut novel, Carol ponders why her dreams have gone off the rails. Her daughter is hospitalized in isolation with polio, and her husband, who has slapped her over a minor disagreement, is drafted into World War II. The author draws parallels between what the world has faced before and is facing now because of the COVID pandemic. Full of haunting dilemmas, yet spirited and hopeful about love and life. (May 3)
“Something Wicked” by David Housewright (Minotaur Books) – The 19th crime novel in award-winner Housewright’s series featuring PI Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie finds the wealthy former St. Paul police officer retired from a second career as an investigator who takes on cases for family and friends. But when his “better half” Nina asks him to help her friend Jenness Crawford, he agrees. The woman’s grandmother left her 19th-century castle that has been a hotel / resort for more than 100 years and Jenness thinks one of the heirs killed her grandmother. McKenzie is trapped in the castle filled with feuding relatives, longtime serving retainers and a possible murderer. Housewright has won a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and three Minnesota Book Awards. (May 24)
“And There He Kept Here ” by Joshua Moehling (Poisoned Pen Press) – Another debut thriller that begins when two teenagers break into a house on a remote lake in search of prescription drugs, not knowing that Emmett Burr has secrets he’s been keeping in the basement of his home. He gets the upper hand on his tormenters and lines blur between victim, abuser and protector. Sheriff’s deputy Ben Pickard is in the small Minnesota town of Sandy Lake, leading the investigation into the missing teens, when he is forced to reveal his own secrets and dig deep to uncover the dark part of the place he now calls home. (June)
“Cougar Claw ” by Cary J. Griffith (Adventure Publications) – In his second Sam Rivers mystery, Griffith sends the US Fish & Wildlife special agent and wildlife biologist to examine the scene of a deadly cougar attack on a human. This is an unlikely event, but wealthy business owner Jack McGregor is found dead and the physical evidence points to the animal. With the help of reporter Diane Talbott and his wolf-dog Gray, Rivers’ investigation turns up a lot of motives for murdering McGregor. Sam’s knowledge of the backcountry, cougars and the criminal mind are put to the test as he tries to solve the case – and stay alive. (June)
“The Lost” by Jeffrey B. Burton (Minotaur Books) – Mason “Mace” Reid is back for his third adventure with his pack of cadaver dogs he calls The Finders. His prize pupil, Vira, is a golden retriever. Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. In “The Lost,” a home invasion-turned-kidnapping at the mansion of wealthy Kenneith J. Druckman brings Mace and Vira to a northern suburb of Chicago where Druckman was assaulted and left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom. When Vira finds the dead body of the mother, a former supermodel, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing 5-year-old daughter. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself. With the help of Det. Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira race against the clock to rescue the child. (June)
“They Drown Our Daughters ” by Katrina Monroe (Poisoned Pen Press) – This debut novel is a story of mothers and daughters. Through a queer, feminist lens, Monroe spins a gothic tale about a woman’s quest to save her daughter from the violent generational trauma that can become manifest through a dangerous haunting. This is one of the season’s “buzziest” books, with CrimeReads naming it one of the 16 horror novels to look out for in 2022. (July 12)
Forever Boy: A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy ” by Kate Swenson (Park Row Books) – When the author’s son Cooper was diagnosed with severe nonverbal autism, her world stopped. As Cooper grew, Kate experienced the grief and exhaustion that comes with having to fight for your child in a world stacked against them. But she learned, through hard work and personal growth, that Cooper was not the one who needed to change. Swenson is creator of the blog and Facebook page Finding Coopers Voice. She is a contributor to Today Parents, television’s “Today” show and the Love What Matters blog. (April)
“His Name is George Floyd” by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa (Viking) – Subtitled “One Man’s Life and The Struggle for Racial Justice,” Washington Post reporters tell for the first time the entire story of the life of George Floyd, whose murder under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer ignited protests. From Houston’s housing projects where Floyd faced the systemic pressures that come with being a Black man in America, to his family roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his schools, the over-policing of Minneapolis’ Black community, and a disregard toward his struggle with addiction, the book shows how this ordinary man came to die on a Minneapolis street. Based on hundreds of interviews with Floyd’s family and friends. (May 17)
“Mini-Forest Revolution” by Hannah Lewis (Chelsea Green Publishing) – The first book about a movement to restore biodiversity in our cities and towns by transforming empty lots, back yards, and degraded land into mini-forests through the Miyawaki Method. This unique approach to reforestation was devised by Japanese botanist Kira Miyawaki as a way to create tiny forests that grow quickly on small places and are more biodiverse than those planted by conventional methods. She explores the science behind why mini-forests work and their myriad environmental benefits, including cooling urban heat islands, establishing wildlife corridors, building soil health, sequestering carbon, creating pollinator habitats and more. (June)
“Seven Aunts” by Staci Lola Drouillard (University of Minnesota Press) – A patchwork of memoir and reminiscence, poetry, testimony, love letters and family lore in an unconventional portrait of ways of life largely lost to history that reveals women who defied expectations and overwhelming odds to make a place in the world for the next generation. The author is a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe and lives in Grand Marais. (June)
“Spirit Matters: White Clay, Red Exits, Distant Others” by Gordon Henry (Holy Cow! Press) – Poetry collection by an enrolled member / citizen of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation in Minnesota, told in parcels and articles, letters, images, repetitive themes, rhythms and sounds. Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich says of the collection: “(it) is haunted by people whose voices are so indelible they speak from a world beyond this one – a powerful country where stories are spells that inhabit the living… a compelling, uncanny book. ” (June 14)
“Wonderlands”By Charles Baxter (Graywolf Press) – In his new collection of essays, some of which were first given as craft talks at the Bread Loaf Writers’ conference, Baxter shares years of wisdom on what makes fiction work, from the nature of wonderlands in the fiction of Haruki Murakami and other fabulist writers, to reflections on his own life. Baxter is the author of 14 books, including novels, short fiction and poetry. He is retired from 18 years of teaching in the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in creative writing. (July 12).
“Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls” by Kathleen Hale (Grove Press) – It was big news in the Twin Cities and around the country in 2014 when two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin tried to kill their friend, who survived 19 stab wounds. The author, a Wisconsin native who lives in Los Angeles, drew on court transcripts, police reports, and individual reporting to reveal the full story about the girls who wanted to appease a creature born of the internet. A look at the meaning of justice, accountability, and victimhood and the country’s lack of childhood psychiatric services. (August)