Also of interest...journeys into the unknown
by Jeffrey Kluger (Holt, $30)
Before man could set foot on the moon, it had to be proven he could get there, said David Holahan in CSMonitor.com. In his latest book, the Time magazine editor who wrote Apollo 13 focuses on a key mission that preceded the 1969 lunar landing, and he “spins an engaging tale even when it delves into the nooks and crannies of physics, space politics, and human dynamics.” Because no astronauts before had flown as fast or nearly as far, they had worse odds of survival than soldiers at Gettysburg.
Black Mad Wheel
by Josh Malerman (Ecco, $27)
This gripping new thriller imagines a chilling alternate history of rock ’n’ roll, said Jason Heller in NPR.org. In 1957, a fictional Detroit band is asked by the government to investigate a malevolent sound emanating from Africa’s Namib Desert, and it’s quickly revealed that the mission ended badly, though not why. As the story proceeds, Malerman “builds tension to a suspenseful frenzy.” Though the mystery gets only vague resolution, the author’s riffs on the cyclical nature of history and music make up for it.
by Nick Bilton (Portfolio, $27)
In 2010, a young Texan named Ross Ulbricht undertook what must be “the most astonishing act of entrepreneurship” in U.S. history, said Richard Poplak in The Globe and Mail (Canada). The website he created, Silk Road, aimed to be the Amazon of illegal gun and drug sales, and at its peak did a million in sales every two days. Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton has now produced an “astonishingly” well-researched account of law enforcement’s takedown of Ulbricht. It reads like John Grisham.
by Michael Crichton (Harper, $29)
The third posthumous novel from the author of Jurassic Park “could have used one more rewrite,” said Barbara Vancheri in the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette. Inspired by a real-life rivalry between two 19th-century paleontologists, Dragon Teeth follows a young Yale grad who becomes a pawn in the competition when he joins a team of bone hunters in the 1870s wild West. After a slow start, Dragon Teeth gets its hero into an intriguing jam. From there on out, it “resembles the page-turner we expect.”