April 15, 2017 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
bler Bat Moriarity, Nora can’t find work. But when Moriarity is killed
over a card game, Nora’s half-Chinese friend Jim Li retrieves the man’s
diamond ring. Desperate to start over, Nora sells the ring, places the
baby with friends, and, with Jim posing as her servant, heads north.
Mixed races are common in North Fork, where Jim and Nora settle,
fall in love, marry, adopt a daughter, and welcome Nora’s illegitimate
son—unaware that Moriarity is alive, planning revenge for the theft
of his ring. Moriarity arrives in North Fork armed to kill—but the
confrontation takes a shocking turn, changing Nora’s family forever.
River with No Bridge is a gripping, sometimes heartbreaking story of
immigrant survival in the West. —Jeanne Greene
By Melissa Lenhardt.
Apr. 2017. 432p. Redhook, paper, $14.99 (9780316505390).
Female doctors are rare in 1871, even in New York City. When Dr.
Catherine Bennett is wrongfully accused of murder, absent any defense she flees the city where she is known. Changing her identity to
become Laura Elliston, she joins a wagon train, hoping to get to California—but the Comanche attack the wagons. Laura hides, terrified.
Then soldiers arrive and, after a fight, they escort Laura and Captain
William Kindle to Ft. Richardson, Colorado. Laura recovers quickly,
and, unsure where else to go, she helps in the hospital, where she and
Kindle fall in love. Laura feels safe until a wanted poster with her picture turns up at the fort. Fear tells Laura to run—someone wants to kill
her—but, when Kindle is threatened, love tells her to stay. This action-packed western (first in a proposed trilogy) introduces a courageous
new heroine—one that readers won’t likely forget. —Jeanne Greene
Snake Oil: Easy Pickin’s.
By Marcus Galloway.
June 2017. 268p. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432832636).
When “Professor” Henry Whiteoak, purveyor of homemade reme-
dies, sees men trying to rob a courier, he pulls his wagon over and runs
them off at gunpoint. The same gang tries to rob the local bank, killing
a hostage, and a band of armed citizens—ignoring the sheriff—mows
down everyone on the street. If the authorities condone indiscriminate
killing, who’s on the other side? Caught between the robbers and the
shooters, the fast-talking professor pulls off a double-cross that rids
the town of both—and then, with the courier’s help, he stops the
man pulling their strings. The snake-oil salesman is a familiar western
trope, but Whiteoak is unique. The push-pull between his cynicism as
a practiced charlatan, and his inability to ignore people in need, adds
intelligence and empathy to this action-filled, sometimes violent series.
Until Whiteoak returns, the author’s Ralph Compton series (Straight to
the Noose, 2015) should interest his fans. —Jeanne Greene
Tom and Huck’s Howling Adventure.
By Tim Champlin.
Sept. 2017. 232p. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432837624).
Champlin has revived Tom, Huck, Jim, and the gang. In this new
adventure, which harkens back to an age of innocence, the boys escape adult supervision on
a quest to rescue their kidnapped young friend,
Becky, and recover a bag of gold coins. Joined by
Zane, a mysterious new friend from the modern
era—complete with cell phone and sneakers!—
they deliver the ransom, paddling their skiff to an
isolated Mississippi island. From there, they spy
on the kidnappers, following them along the Missouri on a paddle wheeler and across the frontier
in a wagon train. A sighting of buffalo and a brush
with angry Indians lead to a surprising conclusion to the adventure.
This tale will be appreciated by younger readers, much as the original
Mark Twain adventures were. —Reg Quist
YA: Readers who enjoy Twain might get a kick out of this western. RV.
1913, amid the dark stirrings of war, when
her young daughter and son, along with their
nanny, drown in a bizarre car accident. Gray’s
deeply inquisitive and empathic story of epic
grief is composed of short, intense chapters expressing the divergent points of view of four
contentious characters: extravagantly theatrical
Isadora; her exceedingly wealthy and pragmatic
lover, Paris Singer; her frustrated sister, Elizabeth, who teaches the radical Duncan method;
and her fellow instructor, the ineptly scheming
Max. As Isadora plunges into near madness,
then slowly reclaims her artistic powers, Gray,
performing her own extraordinary artistic leap,
explores the nexus between body and mind,
loss and creativity, love and ambition, and birth
and death. The spellbinding result is a mythic,
fiercely insightful, mordantly funny, and profoundly revelatory portrait of an intrepid and
indelible artist. —Donna Seaman
Lilli de Jong.
By Janet Benton.
May 2017. 352p. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $25.95
In a short space of time, a young Quaker
woman poised to begin a new life was reduced
to begging on the streets to keep herself and
her infant daughter alive. The story of how Lilli
de Jong falls so completely after unexpectedly
becoming pregnant offers a harrowing look at
the strictures of nineteenth-century American
society. Many of the other unwed mothers
at the Philadelphia charity where Lilli takes
shelter before giving birth were victims of
unwanted sexual conquests, now forced to
abandon their babies to adoption while their
abusers live without consequences. But Lilli
refuses to leave her daughter to the cruel life
awaiting an illegitimate child, instead fighting
to her last scrap of resolve to keep her as her
own. She is a full-fledged heroine, persever-
ing despite seemingly insurmountable odds,
including her own loss of faith. While it’s hard
to believe she would have the time to devote
to the diary entries that comprise the book,
her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven
by a mother’s love. —Bridget Thoreson
The Lost History of Stars.
By Dave Boling.
June 2017. 352p. Algonquin, $25.95 (9781616204174).
Think of concentration camps, and the
mind goes to WWII, but Boling dramatizes
their presence in South Africa’s Second Boer
War (1899–1902). Operated by the British,
the camps claimed the lives of 27,000 Boers,
a heartrending 22,000 of them children. It
is in one such camp that 14-year-old Lettie
and her Boer family find themselves after the
British destroy their farm. The camp condi-
tions are deplorable and dehumanizing, each
day presenting a new horror. But then Lettie
meets a young British soldier named Tommy,
and, though it’s forbidden, they gradually
become friends, but what good can come of
that? Meanwhile, vicissitudes continue: Let-
tie’s little sister dies while her younger brother
withdraws into himself. Will things ever be
the same, even when the war ends, as it must?
Boling provides context for his setting-rich
story by employing flashbacks that, though
informative, tend to impede the momentum
of the plot. But, nevertheless, his informative
and illuminating story is heartfelt and deeply
affecting in its dramatization of a historic epi-
sode too little known here. —Michael Cart
YA: This crossover novel could have
easily been published as YA, and teens
will likely find it both informative and
The Lost Letter.
By Jillian Cantor.
June 2017. 366p. Riverhead, $26 (9780399185670).
Who knew philately could be a matter of
life, death, and self-discovery? In 1989 Los
Angeles, Katie Nelson is falling apart: her
husband has left her, and her father’s grip on
reality loosens as he slips into the darkness of
Alzheimer’s. When Katie has her father’s stamp
collection appraised, an unopened letter with a
unique stamp sends her on a quest across the
world and into the past. Meanwhile, in 1939,
young artist Kristoff, apprenticed to a Jewish
master stamp engraver, is wrenched from his
love, Elena, when the Nazis annex Austria.
Cantor enhances the familiarity of the novel’s
structure and plotting through polished prose
and a credible rendering of the painful process
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