Mississippi Books and Writers

September 1999

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

Bittersweet Bittersweet

A novel by Nevada Barr

Bard Books (Paperback, $13.50, ISBN: 0380799502)

(Originally Published 1984)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Library Journal:

This is a novel of power and vitality that will grip the reader… The author’s skill in writing lively, often humorous dialogue and in developing strong, unique characters in a setting described with authenticity is impressive.

Of Home and Family: Art in Nineteenth Century Mississippi

Nonfiction by Patti Carr Black

Mississippi Museum of Art (Paperback, $15.00, ISBN: 1887422048)

Publication date: September 1999


Of Home and Family: Art in Nineteenth Century Mississippi is a perfect example of the Mississippi Museum of Art fulfilling its mission of documenting and presenting the art and artists of Mississippi,” says Museum Director R. Andrew Maass. “Guest Curator Patti Carr Black has drawn together an exquisite exhibition presenting the beauty, spirit, vitality and depth of artistic creativity in the urban and rural environments of nineteenth century Mississippi. From painting and photography to popular arts, this exhibition illustrates the state’s visual richness so often taken for granted.”

The Quiet Game The Quiet Game

A Novel by Greg Iles

Penguin (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0525937935)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Preposterous, but eminently suspenseful, legal procedural about a Mississippi river town’s buried secrets, by the author of Mortal Fear (1996), etc. Penn Cage, once a Texas prosecutor, now an infinitely wealthy bestselling lawyer-novelist, cant get over the recent cancer death of his wife, and is just a bit troubled about death threats from the brother of a demented white supremacist he put on death row. After a vacation in Disney World with his daughter Annie, Cage embarks on an extended visit with his parents in Natchez, Tennessee, where he finds that Ray Presley, a white-trash former cop is blackmailing Penn’s saintly physician father. It seems that Presley filched a gun from the good doctor, then used it in an unsolved murder. Now, Penn buys back the gun from Presley with a mountain of cash, and later sits down for a famous author interview with the young, rich, beautiful, and brainy Caitlin Masters, the Pulitzer-crazed publisher of the local newspaper, during which he mentions, in passing, a 1968 racially motivated murder of Del Peyton, a young, black factory worker that both the police and the FBI failed to solve. Masters prints her interview, stirring up old animosities all over, including a rancorous legal dispute between Cage’s father and Judge Leo Marston, a local powerbroker who was a district attorney at the time. Peyton’s widow suddenly appears and asks the famous writer to find who killed her husband. Penn reluctantly agrees, then runs into his old girlfriend, Livy Marston, Leo’s flawless, southern-belle daughter. Livy mysteriously ditched Cage 20 years ago, but now can’t wait to stoke the old fire. Meanwhile, FBI Director John Portman, Cage’s old nemesis, weighs in with nasty threats as Cage braves bullies, dodges bullets, rides down icy rapids, and prepares for a courtroom battle. Breezy, Grisham-style read that tweaks the conventions of southern gothic. (Author tour) —Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Black CrossBlack Cross

A Novel by Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0451185196)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews :

Iles (Spandau Phoenix, 1993) delivers a swift historical thriller of such brutal accomplishment that it vaporizes almost every cliche about the limits of the genre. It’s 1944, and American pacifist Dr. Mark McConnell is recruited from his Oxford chemistry lab by a cagey Scotsman, Brigadier Duff Smith, to undertake a potential suicide mission into Nazi Germany. The Reich possesses horrifying weapons that the Allies suspect Hitler will use against their D-Day invasion forces: Sarin and Soman, nerve gases of unprecedented deadliness. Forbidden from assigning Brits to the mission, but with Churchill’s secret blessing, Brigadier Smith pairs McConnell with Jonas Stern, a militant Zionist of German descent, and ships the reluctant duo off to the Scottish Highlands for a crash course in commando skills before parachuting them into Germany. The objective: Release an Allied version of Sarin, code named “Black Cross,” on Totenhausen, the very death camp that serves as the Nazi’s crucible for further gas research—a camp where Jews are the subjects for the grisly experiments of the sadistic pederast Dr. Klaus Brandt.

If the plan succeeds, Hitler will be deterred from deploying his gases on the Normany beaches. But there’s a catch: No one gets out alive (even though Smith has arranged a submarine escape, he expects his operatives to perish with everyone else). That outcome fails to captivate either McConnell or Stern, and it is their decision to tinker with strategy, and the consequent improvisations, that pumps the story so full of runaway-train excitement.

Stumbling across ardent co-conspirators and enemy sickos at almost every turn (from a friendly German nurse to a deludedly romantic Nazi major), McConnell learns to kill, terrorist Stern acquires an awkward compassion, and both men take a harrowing wartime ride straight to the century’s moral heart of darkness. With time as, alternately, ally and adversary, the good guys struggle to deal their crippling blow to the Nazi war machine. Good enough to read twice. —Copyright © 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Spandau PhoenixSpandau Phoenix

A Novel by Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0451179803)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews :

Long but largely rewarding first thriller in which the apparent suicide of imprisoned Nazi Rudolf Hess sets the KGB, the Stasi, the CIA, Israelis, South Africans, and the Berlin police to chasing each other and some embarrassing paperswhich may or may not have been written by Mr. Hess, who may or may not have been Mr. Hess. It’s the late 80’s, and the cracks in the Eastern bloc are just starting to show. Berlin is still controlled by the WW II Allied powers, who’ve spent millions to keep Hess locked up in Spandau Prison. It was Hess who made the mysterious flight to England at the beginning of the war, supposedly to seek a separate peace through negotiations with sympathetic aristocrats. Now, the prisoner has hung himself. Or has he? He’s certainly dead, but it may have been murder. There has always been doubt about his identityand the Russians have always been strangely adamant about paroling the old fascist. Then, as Spandau is being razed, Hans Apfel, a young German policeman, finds a hidden sheaf of papers written in Latin by the old prisoner, a document that, if released, will prove immensely embarrassing to a number of people, including the British royal family, a good hunk of the British aristocracy, and far too many German policemen on both sides of the Iron Curtain. A long line forms to try to get the papers back from Apfel, who wants to sell them, and his pretty wife Ilse, who wants to turn them in. Things become terribly violent terribly quickly, and Hans has to accept help from his estranged father, the best cop in Berlin…. The central mystery, why Hess went to England and why so many people don’t want the truth to get out, isn’t quite interesting enough to last the great length here. It’s up to a few heroic, middle-aged policemen to hang onto the reader. They’re usually successful. —Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell

By Ellen Douglas

Plume (Paperback, $12.95, ISBN: 0452281024)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Earnest, searching inquiry into family and regional history “and the pivotal but mutable role memory plays in both” by one of the true grand dames of southern letters. Douglas, author of seven books of fiction (Can’t Quit You Baby, 1988; A Lifetime Burning, 1982; The Rock Cried Out, 1979;) turns to nonfiction, though her musings on the connections between life and art demonstrate how unsatisfactory genre classifications can be. As the narrative moves backward in time (each selection exploring an earlier period than the preceding one), the style changes from fiction to personal essay. “Grant,” about a terminally ill uncle who moved in with Douglas’s family, is a textbook example of the short story form. “Julia and Nellie” is a long, convoluted (and sometimes confusing) exploration of the tangled allegiances among small-town Southern families. The book is a kind of owning up: Douglas tells stories that, for reasons from personal shame to a need to protect relatives, she couldn’t tell as a young woman. Striving to settle accounts, to discover a personal or historical truth, she runs up against her instincts as a novelist “an urge to extract meaning by fictionalizing, to imagine the cause of events” which clash with her desire to record or discover what really happened. In some instances she’s able (even willing) to invent. Mulling over the “ancient romance” at the heart of “Julia and Nellie,” she dreams up several explanations for the scandalous common-law marriage of distant cousins, then rejects them as too romantic. In others (“Hampton” and “On Second Creek,” in which she strives to understand the 1861 massacre of slaves belonging to her family), neither her fictionalizing nor the spotty family record is enough to fill in the missing links. Slightly more valuable for its insight into Douglas’s fiction than for what it says about history’s subjective biases. —Copyright © 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

The Peddler's Grandson The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi

By Edward Cohen

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578061679)

Publication date: September 1999

Description from Booklist:

Cohen grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1950s and 1960s. In a city of 100,000 people, mostly Baptists, he was one of about 300 Jews. His immigrant grandparents settled there, coming from Romania, Russia, and Poland. Cohen remembers that the only Jewish institution in town was Temple Beth Israel, located next door to the state women’s club, which didn’t allow Jews, and down the street from his high school, which did allow Jews but not blacks. Farther north was the Jackson Country Club, which allowed neither. Cohen’s grandfather and great uncle founded a clothing store in Jackson, where his father worked all his life and where the author worked every Saturday for much of his childhood. Cohen describes how he left Mississippi for college (the University of Miami), where he met northern Jews and felt again like an outsider because of what he termed his southerness. This thoughtful and beautifully written memoir is a revelation about the allure of assimilation and the evasiveness of identity. —George Cohen

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