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Great Gifts for … History Buffs

Holiday Contest!

What could be better than starting the new year out with a couple of great books—FREE? Join our email list and you could win your picks from the Felony & Mayhem list. (We will choose the winners in a blind drawing on January 5.)

Have a holly jolly Christmas, and a heckuva good New Year.

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The Library Paradox, by Catherine Shaw

The Library Paradox, by Catherine Shaw

I could tell you that this was one of Oprah.com’s “Nine Mysteries Every Intelligent Woman Should Read.” Which it was. Or that it’s a wonderful choice for fans of Maisie Dobbs. But mostly I’ll say that it’s very good and very unusual, with a plot that takes in Bertrand Russell, mathematical theory, the Dreyfus Affair, and the Jewish community in late-19th-century London.
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Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan

Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan

Stay in London but go back about 200 years, and you’re in the world of Countess Ashby de la Zouche, she of the once-spectacular bustline and a certain lack of shame. With gentlemen no longer quite as willing to pay her rent, the countess takes up work as a gossip columnist. With a little judicious peeking and peering, a person can discover some rather surprising things.
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The Peking Man is Missing, by Claire Taschdjian

The Peking Man Is Missing, by Claire Taschdjian

You’ll have to go back quite a bit longer to meet up with the titular character: The fossils known collectively as Peking Man were discovered in the 1920s, but date back more than half a million years. At the time of their discovery, they represented one of the most important finds in the history of paleontology. And in 1941, they disappeared forever. This novel, published in the 1970s, is a speculation as to what might have taken place. For extra credit we have included some never-before-published photographs, as well as a specially commissioned essay on the bizarre story of the search for Peking Man.
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Whom the Gods Love, by Kate Ross

Whom the Gods Love, by Kate Ross

If I tell you that fans of Regency romances will love these books, you might well – as I would – wrinkle your nose and say “Ugh, Romances? No thank you.” But we’d both be wrong: Jane Austen wrote what are essentially Regency romances. The clothes are incredibly sexy, the wordplay is a delight, and social issues – questions of class, in particular – inform both plot and character. What could be bad? (Also available as an ebook.)
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The Skeleton in the Grass, by Robert Barnard

The Skeleton in the Grass, by Robert Barnard

Doctoral theses could be (and probably have been) written on why the period between the two world wars is such a perfect setting for mystery fiction. Far be it from me to steal grad students’ thunder: I’ll say only that Skeleton is the perfect evocation of that perfection, dealing both with the gilded aristocratic way of life – the life that, from our vantage-point of the grubby future looks so deliciously appealing – and its rather nasty underpinnings. In a quiet way, this is quite a brilliant book.
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