The Dow s moving up>, but is it going to stay there? Does it ever? The five books we offer here look at how people address the uncertainty of the world, from the black market economics of poaching endangered species to advice from a career coach. We ve also got crime thrillers that involve work of another sort driven by greed, get-rich-quick schemes and revenge.
Rogues, Smugglers and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty
By Craig Welch
Reviewed by: Kelli B. Grant
In the world of wildlife trafficking, gangs trade clams for Vicodin on the black market, collectors sneak endangered butterflies through customs in mislabeled packages with doctored paperwork and divers vacuum up rare fish for pet store sales.
Craig Welch's account of the law enforcement officials who hunt these hunters reads like a spy novel, but the vivid imagery is drawn from his thorough reporting based on extensive interviews and records from state and federal investigations into poaching and smuggling business.
The narrative focuses primarily on a marine oddball: the geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) clam, a giant burrowing bivalve mollusk that s native to the Pacific Northwest. Although the government permits commercial fishing for the clams, the high prices that connoisseurs pay for these delicacies -- easily several hundred dollars apiece also make them a prime target for poachers. Add in a Native American informant-turned-poacher who steals millions in Dungeness crab and geoduck before getting caught, and "Shell Games" is a surprising page-turner.
Welch s narrative of the poaching business is gripping, but perhaps even more interesting are his observations about how poaching ties into the economy, no matter how it s doing. In flush times, the demand for delicacies like Dungeness crab and geoduck clams drives traffic in such valuable contraband. But more people turn to the black market for these products as a source of income when times are bad, while at the same time law officials must address more pressing issues than poaching endangered species.
Get a Life, Not a Job
Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work for You
By Paula Caligiuri
FT Press; $19.99
Reviewed by: Robert J. Hughes
As anyone who s hunted for work over the last four years or so has found out, it s not easy out there. Employers feel that they re in the catbird seat, not settling until they ve located the perfect candidate (who never exists), while job seekers are frustrated by the lack of response, the callousness of the process and a growing frustration at ever finding work that not only pays the bills, but is rewarding.
In Get a Life, Not a Job, career counselor Paula Calgiuri has put together an approach not only to finding work, but thriving in it. The key, she says, is merging your career with vocations such as child care, photography, nursing and cake-decorating, and taking on more than one job. Sure, a lot of people already juggle multiple sources of income, but Caligiuri recommends looking to open yourself up to finding jobs in areas where you actually want to work, without the stress that a two-job workweek might involve. Employees are less able to predict their professional futures than ever before and this lack of predictability and uncertainty has been causing unprecedented levels of stress among employees, Caligiuri writes, and many people might agree.
People today shouldn t tie their destinies to one employer, she says. Our ability to survive layoffs is really not an indicator of your career success unless you are truly fulfilled doing the work that you do with your employer, she says. If you are not fulfilled, I am not asking you to leave your job. Rather, consider building a second career act. The benefit of taking control of your own career destiny and giving yourself options will be liberating.
She knows her plan may seem pie-in-the-sky, but Caligiuri says that you start by talking to people, networking, getting to know yourself. It takes work to find work, but your life is worth the effort. She provides a lot of guidance web sites, networking opportunities and support. The rest is up to you, whether you ve had a dream of starting a new business, want to get out of the rut you ve been in for too long, or are living in fear of the old executive hatchet.
By Ace Atkins
G.P. Putnam & Sons; $25.96
Reviewed by Will Swarts
The last time banks were the target of populist rage was during the early 1930s, when some Depression-era Americans turned to robbing them. Alternatively, they made folk heroes of many gun-slinging bandits and the lawmen who pursued them, with nicknames that outlived their crime sprees. In "Infamous," veteran crime novelist Ace Atkins spins the tale of George "Machine Gun" Kelly, his wife Kathryn and the duo's 1933 kidnapping of an Oklahoma City oil tycoon. Kelly, who topped FBI wanted lists that summer, is an amiable, dopey sort who enjoys a stiff drink and a little hanky-panky, and hardly seems worthy of the master-criminal status conferred on him by the press.
Machine Gun, as it turned out, was a lousy shot who could barely fire the weapon that gave him his outlaw moniker.
His wife, Kathryn, though, is more than his partner in crime: She's clearly the brainy, ambitious half of the duo -- half gun moll, half Lady Macbeth. Like many of America's "Public Enemies" of the era, Kit Kelly came from abject rural poverty and was hungry for the good life. She wasn't shy about her taste for fine clothes and nights on the town.
After fixing her roots as a dirt-poor farm girl, the novel depicts her life on the run with a shrewd, occasionally sympathetic eye. In a St. Paul nightclub, the "orchestra had the room on its feet, and women danced on white-linened tables, kicking plates and Champagne bottles, and men knocked back whiskey and smoked, while a ball of excitement grew in Kathryn's stomach. Your felt that way when you were in the place you were meant to be. This was the heat, this was the action."
Atkins writing is versatile and moves the faithfully-researched tale of the crime and 56-day manhunt along in the voices of veteran Texas lawmen and newly minted FBI agents. He also depicts the Midwest's criminal demimonde, fragmenting and turning on itself after the repeal of Prohibition. In the end, of course, the Kellys' crime did not pay, but this chronicle of a mess foretold isn't shy in showing that it did lead to some wild times along the way.
By Alafair Burke
Reviewed by Joan R. Magee
Alafair Burke s new novel is an up-to-the-minute thriller that explores love and death in the digital age. The title perhaps the best-known area code in the nation makes the book s point: numbers, and what they can do for and against you.
Burke s new tale follows NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher as she connects the dots in a slew of seemingly random attacks, including the vicious murder of an New York University sophomore, Megan Gunther. When Gunther is threatened on a highly-anonymous, college gossip site, Campus Juice (modeled after real-life site JuicyCampus.com), Detective Hatcher uses phone records to connect the digits, as it were. She finds that Gunther s death is somehow linked to that of a brutally slain 31-year-old real estate agent who lived a double life as a high-priced call girl. That real-estate agent leads Hatcher to an ber-wealthy mogul whose bodyguard is killed in the opening scene of the book.
Did we say that the novel has a lot of plot turns? The links between characters, along with clues dropped like breadcrumbs, pull the reader along. Burke s novel gains momentum after a somewhat slow start, and continues apace until the end. Naturally, with so many twists, the ending is a trifle convoluted, but Burke has made sure to dot every i and to connect every number.
Burke, a former deputy district attorney in Portland, Ore., has inherited her father s ability to spin a classic tale of suspense set in the modern age. Her father? The great crime novelist James Lee Burke.
A Murderous Procession
By Ariana Franklin
Reviewed by Robert J. Hughes
Ariana Franklin has been building a following with her series of mysteries centered around Adelia Aguilar, a 12th-century forensic pathologist from Sicily, who works for Henry II in Britain. Sounds far-fetched, but Franklin has based her character and her exploits on considerable research into the era. While there may not have been any actual hard-headed and brilliant medical examiner-cum-detectives who lived in England 800 years ago, there were women medical doctors trained in Sicily.
This is, after all, a work of historical crime fiction, not a history of women s roles in the Middle Ages. Yet in addition to her exciting plots, Franklin provides readers with interesting details about life back then, and how men, women, the church and state worked together, along with the kind of telling forensic detail that modern readers crave.
This fourth outing starts with Adelia enjoying a quiet life with her out-of-wedlock daughter. Things get more interesting when she is summoned to accompany the procession of Joanna, King Henry s 10-year-old daughter, to be married in Sicily. Adelia, along with her trusted Arab manservant Mansur , rides with her for protection, both medical and otherwise, since she has proved to be an able detective.
Naturally, people begin to die, and Adelia is in peril. At the same time, as Adelia tries to figure out what s really going on, author Franklin uses the procession to give readers a quick lesson in the Cathar sect, of the thriving cosmopolitan life in Sicily, and the trappings of a courtly retinue. It s a fast-paced, involving volume in an excellent crime series.