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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Book review: ‘Those People’ is a chilling portrait of a smug, privileged neighborhood where things turn violent

Last year British author Louise Candlish made her American debut with “Our House,” a domestic thriller about a woman whose life spirals after she finds strangers taking over her London townhouse. Now Candlish returns with a mordant tale called “Those People.” She could well have titled it “Our Houses” since the plot finds several homes and their owners threatened by obnoxious newcomers.

Book review: Hanford is horrific for Millie in ‘The Cassandra’

An acquaintance who studied electrical engineering received a plum job offer from a military contractor after graduation. He turned the offer down. Unlike poor Mildred “Millie” Groves in this novel, he could not see an ethical way to dispense his labor for blood money. Millie in “The Cassandra,” graduate of an Omak, Washington, secretarial school class of five, gets a job on the Hanford Project during World War II. Plutonium is being manufactured there for the bombs to be rained on Japan. Millie’s ability to foresee the future taints her being. Taints it because, like the prophetess of the book’s title, she is fated never to be respected or believed.

Book World: Remembering Kurt Cobain as a sweetly childlike, achingly opaque creative force

The ever-expanding library of books about Nirvana and its frontman, Kurt Cobain, is surprisingly light on first-person accounts. Most of its canonical texts, like Charles R. Cross’ “Heavier Than Heaven” and Michael Azerrad’s “Come As You Are,” were written by journalists. “Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain,” written by the band’s co-manager, Danny Goldberg and published in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Cobain’s death by suicide, is one of the only books to come out of the singer’s inner circle. Managers make for unreliable narrators. They are lied to by their artists, and in turn lie to us. They often don’t know the worst of it and might not be inclined to believe it if they did. “I was predisposed to see all things Nirvana through rose-colored glasses,” Goldberg admits. He oversaw Nirvana’s ascent from indie act to the most famous band in the world, and Cobain once told a journalist he regarded the older man as a “second father.” To Goldberg, he remained achingly opaque. “Sometimes I felt as close to him as a brother,” he writes, “and other times he seemed a galaxy removed, barely perceptible.”

Review: ‘This Will Only Hurt a Little,’ by Busy Philipps

Her Instagram followers will recognize the Philipps who just puts herself out there, the good, the bad, the falling flat on her face (three dislocated knees). Here I am, everybody! Do you love me? LOVE ME! And it’s hard not to. (Unless all-caps bothers you. Then you may have issues with this book.)

Book review: ‘How to Cuss in Western’ details a Western life filled with humor and wit

The deft essays in Michael Branch’s “How to Cuss in Western (And Other Missives from the High Desert)” remind me of Patrick McManus, the former Sandpoint resident, EWU professor, novelist and humorist. He collected his writing in books that began with “A Fine and Pleasant Misery” in 1978. Not that Mike Branch sounds like McManus; rather that he’s part of an enduring succession of outdoor journalists. From 2010 to 2016, for High Country News, Branch wrote an online column that he dubbed Rants from the Hill. In that column, he described life with his wife and daughters on 6,000-foot-high “Ranting Hill.” This year, the family came down from the hilltop to live again in Reno, the same year McManus died. Ordeals of biblical proportions afflicted the Branch family during its hilltop sojourn. Roads washed out, wildfires forced retreats, gophers and packrats pestered, snowstorms hurled down. Their solar abode caught fire. Such accounts blur and blend with those in the sister volumes “Raising Wild” (2016) and “Rants from the Hill” (2017). The family underwent a fine and pleasant misery in the high Nevada desert.

Jason Colby’s ‘Orca’ offers personal and historical perspectives on orca captures

Jason Colby has more than a historian’s perspective on the era when orca whales were trapped and sold for profit and entertainment all over the world: His father used to be a “cropper,” as the fishermen of these great mammals of the Northwest called themselves. Today an associate professor of environmental and international history at the University of Victoria, Colby, author of “Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator,” was born in Victoria, British Columbia, but raised in the Seattle area, where he worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and Washington. His is a Northwest story, born and bred, and he tells it with the depth and passion the topic deserves.

Book World: The quiet allure of Charles Cumming’s ‘A Divided Spy’

Charles Cumming’s thrillers have been favorably compared to those of John le Carré and Len Deighton, and justly so. The three British authors sharply evoke a shadowy world of spies who can be heartlessly expedient and whose loyalties can spin like a demented compass. But Cumming’s novels depart significantly in one respect from le Carri’s and Deighton’s, as his latest, “A Divided Spy,” makes clear. Purpose and caring temper protagonist Thomas Kell’s cynicism, lending him more warmth and sensitivity than le Carri’s and Deighton’s often embittered agents.

New Hap and Leonard novel is one dirty puppy

One almost feels guilty enjoying their raw, rollicking adventures. But Joe R. Lansdale, an Edgar Award-winning writer, has a way of winning readers over with his deceptively elegant brand of “redneck noir.”

Book World: Ali Smith begins a new quartet of novels with ‘Autumn’

From the dreamy, disorienting opening of “Autumn,” we are in the strange territory that will be familiar to readers of Ali Smith, whose books play slyly with notions of time, character and plot. The first of a projected quartet, “Autumn” hovers around the season of harvest and final things, but the possibility of transformation is also very much in the air. Daniel Gluck, 101 years old, seems to be dreaming his death. “It is perhaps rather fine, after all, being dead. Highly underrated in the modern western world.” Amazed, delighted and embarrassed to find himself young again but naked, he stitches together a swanky green coat of leaves.

Pagan’s latest is love story told from different viewpoints

“Forever is the Worst Long Time” is a love story told from several very different points of view. Camille Pagan unpacks a complicated relationship among a struggling novelist named James; his best friend, Rob; and their shared adoration for Rob’s fiancee, Louisa (Lou). James keeps his feelings hidden for an entire decade, until one fateful night when Rob betrays Lou. James can’t remember a time when Rob wasn’t a major part of his life. Their friendship was strong, until Lou came along. James fell in love immediately and was heartbroken when Rob announced his engagement to Lou. James knew Rob and Lou were wrong for each other, but he kept his emotions at bay. When Lou asked to meet with James years later and secrets of Rob’s infidelity were revealed, James did his best to comfort his best friend’s wife. Waking up next to her in bed the next morning was not a part of his plan.