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Books

‘The Mockingbird Next Door’ recalls life with Harper Lee

By Tom Beer
What ever happened to Harper Lee? The Alabama native was 34 when her first novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was published in 1960. This tale of childhood innocence and racial injustice in the Depression-era South won the Pulitzer Prize in …

‘Ways of the Dead’ a fast-paced tale

By Michelle Scheraga
Neely Tucker’s debut novel is an utterly thrilling mystery set in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s, just before the Internet and the rise of smartphones changed the landscape of print journalism. Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful …

Author talks magic, memories, Houdini

By Nicholas P. Brown
Canadian author Steven Galloway explores the fickle nature of memory in “The Confabulist,” his book about the life and death of one of the world’s …

Bird soars to literary greatness in ‘East China Sea’

By Joy Tipping
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Sarah Bird’s career flourish during the past few years. Her books, sometimes serious in tone, sometimes lightly comedic, have a loyal Texas following. Her latest novel, “Above the East China Sea,” should be the one that …

Alle-Kiski Valley native returns to roots for first novel, ‘Brutal Youth’

By Braden Ashe
New Kensington native Anthony Breznican’s dark, coming-of-age debut novel isn’t just set in the Alle-Kiski Valley — it was born from it. From the Tarentum …

Rowling spins web of publishing mystery

By Carolyn Kellogg
If J.K. Rowling had as much fun writing “The Silkworm” as I did reading it, she had a blast. As the woman who created Harry …

‘Farm’ cultivates little suspense

By David L. Ulin
Tom Rob Smith’s fourth novel, “The Farm,” opens with a vivid conflict: A Londoner named Daniel receives a phone call from his father with troubling …

Harry Potter is back in new J.K. Rowling story

By Jill Lawless
Harry Potter is back — mysterious, married, and going gray. J.K. Rowling has given fans a glimpse of the grown-up boy wizard in a new story posted July 8 on her Pottermore website. It’s the first update since “Harry Potter …

Author debuts with a bang, blowing up Pittsburgh in first novel

By Michael Machosky
The debut novel by author Thomas Sweterlitsch, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” is a lot of things: reality-bending science fiction, a hard-boiled detective story and a meditation …

Eggers’ ‘Your Fathers’ offers an angry take on our changing world

By Henry C. Jackson
Dave Eggers is angry. A writer both beloved and criticized for his distinctly sentimental bursts appears to be seething, worried about crumbling institutions, lost privacy, diminished intimacy and humanity in general. At least, that’s the impression left after digesting Eggers’ …

Slaughter’s ‘Cop Town’ is engrossing

By Oline H. Cogdill
Karin Slaughter wraps an intense thriller around a legacy of sexism, race relations and politics in the engrossing “Cop Town.” Slaughter, author of the Will Trent best-sellers, keeps her first stand-alone novel from becoming a history lesson by investing it …

Pakistani author’s debut novel captures Karachi

By Rebecca Santana
The blurb on the back of Saba Imtiaz’s debut novel “Karachi, You’re Killing Me!” compares the book to the single girl’s Bible, “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” I take issue with this. Bridget Jones would never be able to deal with half …

‘Ruin Falls’ creates intense family thriller

By Oline H. Cogdill
In her second novel, Jenny Milchman delivers an intense family thriller that touches on all the hot-button fears of a parent while keeping the threat of violence on the periphery of the story. Although “Ruin Falls” lags a bit in …

Children’s book star ‘Madeline’ focus of New York exhibit

By Reuters
NEW YORK — Madeline, the plucky French schoolgirl depicted in illustrated children’s books, was created 75 years ago, and New York is marking the anniversary …

Aspinwall author Beard’s ‘Swing’ trip to 1971 Pittsburgh

By Rege Behe
Phil Beard did a double-take. What he saw wasn’t a trick of the late-evening light or an optical illusion. The man had no legs and …

Lotz’s ‘The Three’ is imaginative end-of-the-world thriller

By Jeff Ayers
Four planes crash in various parts of the world on the same day. On three of these planes, a child is the sole survivor. These …

Stephanie Plum returns in ‘Top Secret Twenty-One’

By Jeff Ayers
Janet Evanovich delivers another hilarious entry in her Stephanie Plum series with “Top Secret Twenty-One.” Life is never dull for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Her …

‘Great Powers’ collide in nonlinear narrative

By Claudia Puig
“The Rise & Fall of Great Powers” is an intricate, sprawling and almost Dickensian novel about a girl abducted in childhood who goes searching for …

Finding freedom, fun, prejudice with See’s ‘Dolls’

By Valerie Miner
Lisa See’s ambitious novel, “China Dolls,” spotlights the under-told story of Asian-American entertainers during the 1930s and 1940s. See’s eight previous books have explored Chinese-American …

With stories from his life, Tom Robbins still casts a spell

By Mary Ann Gwinn
If you are a baby boomer who can remember when and where you first read Tom Robbins’ breakout novels (“Another Roadside Attraction,” “Even Cowgirls Get …