Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back to the Beach

Pearce, Michael. Mark of the Pasha (Poisoned Pen). The 16th and final chapter in the career of the Mamur Zapt, chief of police for Egypt's Khedive under the British Protectorate from Khartoum through WWI. Eccentric, original, filled with local color, clever plots, and the panoply and politics of the Middle East, it entertains while creating insights into today's landscape. Besides, there's an endearing kid and a great automobile.

Peters, Elizabeth. The Laughter of Dead Kings (Morrow Aug.). A new Vicky Bliss for Labor Day reading involves an audacious theft in the Valley of the Kings.

Rong, Jiang.Wolf Totem (Penguin $27 May). This magnificent novel was written by a Chinese academic who in 1967 joined the first wave of intellectuals who moved to nomadic communities on the border with Inner and Outer Mongolia as volunteers. He writes lovingly of the grasslands, the wolves, the ancient ecology where greed was controlled to provide for the future, details the harmonies of Mongol culture and the cult of the wolf, and then shows the impact of an overaccelerated, indifferent Han China laying it all waste.

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