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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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V is for Vengeance

by Sue Grafton |



She wouldn’t be Kinsey Millhone if she wasn’t getting shot, run down or pummeled, and in this 22nd of Grafton’s ever-fresh “alphabet” mysteries, the endearing, indestructible PI celebrates her 38th birthday with two shiners and a busted nose. “Sticking said nose into someone else’s business” is Kinsey’s bread and butter (or rather peanut butter and pickle, her fave), and she gets things rolling by busting a shoplifter while perusing Nordstrom’s underwear sale. It isn’t long before lingerie leads to organized crime and murder as Kinsey, in typical fashion, annoys her client, the cops and a variety of miscreants. In a poignant subplot, a marriage quietly disintegrates and a gangster falls tenderly in love.

But it’s Kinsey’s show, and after three decades Grafton’s iconic detective remains a quirky delight. (That she’s aged only six years in that time is one of her hidden talents.) With the help of McDonald’s pit stops and her single no-wrinkle black dress, Kinsey is sure to keep up the good fight through W, X, Y and Z-taking punches for the little guys and keeping the bad ones at bay.

Catherine the Great

by Robert K. Massie |



Historian Massie has spent the past 50 years studying the Romanov tzars who ruled the Russian Empire from 1613 to 1917. His Nicholas and Alexandra was a 1969 blockbuster; Peter the Great earned him a Pulitzer in 1981. Now Massie tackles the charismatic, enigmatic Catherine the Great, who presided over the world’s largest empire for 34 years until her death in 1796. Renowned for her intellect, patronage of the arts and winning personality, Catherine ushered in the Russian Enlightenment-writing the odd opera, taking the odd lover and corresponding with Voltaire in her spare time. Dense and detailed, enriched by pages of full-color illustrations, Massie’s latest will transport history lovers.

The Sisters

by Nancy Jensen |



Mabel Fischer has devised a perfect plan for escaping from her alcoholic stepfather and saving her younger sister Bertie from his abuse. But when the plan derails after a misunderstanding on Bertie’s part one fateful day in 1927, anger and pain follow, pushing Mabel and Bertie ever further apart. As the years pass, each nourishes a hidden sadness that reverberates through time as their daughters and granddaughters, “raised up on secrets,” struggle with the deep-rooted consequences. “Whatever we carry inside us shapes everyone we touch,” realizes Bertie’s granddaughter Grace. Jensen’s likable story argues for openness and forgiveness between sisters, for their own sake and for the health of their families.