Curl up with these mysteries, new releases & nonfiction reads from down South.
Note: For this reading list, and hopefully ones in the future, we’re excited to partner with Better World Books. Headquartered in Atlanta, BWB donates a book to someone in need every time you buy one. Better yet, they offer FREE shipping and have provided Deep South readers with a special discount code. Just click on the book titles to go to BWB’s site and enter BWBDEEPSOUTH to get 10% off when ordering. Code can only be used once and expires next fall.
The Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom
published by Touchstone
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. “Kathleen Grissom peers into the plantation romance through the eyes of a white indentured servant inhabiting the limbo land between slavery and freedom, providing a tale that provokes new empathy for all working and longing in The Kitchen House,” says Alice Randall, author of “The Wind Done Gone.” Like the book on Facebook.
by Charles Frazier
published by Random House
The New York Times best-selling author of “Cold Mountain” grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and returns with a new novel of suspense and love set in a small-town in his home state in the 1960s. In “Nightwoods,” a young woman inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins and her solitary life is cracked open as she defends them from their stepfather, who killed their mother and believes the children know the location of some stolen money. Follow the author on Twitter @Charles_Frazier or like him on Facebook.
The Strangers On Montagu Street
by Karen White
published by NAL Trade
Author of “The Beach Trees,” which made our Summer Reading List, Karen White’s haunting new novel is set in Charleston and centers around Melanie Middleton, a real estate agent with the ability to see ghosts, and a rocky relationship with local writer Jack Trenholm. When Jack’s daughter comes to live with her and brings along an antique dollhouse, the ghosts literally seep out of its miniature rooms, and Melanie must face her sixth sense and her fears of finding love. Like the author on Facebook.
by John Grisham
published by Random House
The latest from Mississippi native turned legal fiction writer sensation, John Grisham gives us a new story about the partners at boutique law firm Finley & Figg, a two-bit operation in search of its big break. After years of chasing ambulances, a new, young associate turns up on the doorstep and the firm prepares to tackle a big case that could make the partners rich without having to actually practice much law. Like the author on Facebook.
Yankee Doodle Dixie
by Lisa Patton
published by Thomas Dunne
“We’re going home” were the words Leelee Satterfield had longed to say almost every single day during her stint as proprietor of a rural Vermont inn. A pure-bred Southerner, Leelee packs up her two daughters and heads South to her hometown of Memphis. She returns expecting to pick up right where she left off, but learns life doesn’t necessarily work that way. “Yankee Doodle Dixie oozes Southern charm,” says Karen White, author of ‘The Strangers on Montagu Street.’ “Reading this book is like sipping a peach daiquiri on your best friend’s porch. So pull up a chair and stay awhile.” Follow the author on Twitter @lisapattonbooks or like her on Facebook.
Feast Day of Fools
by James Lee Burke
published by Simon & Schuster
New Iberia, Louisiana, native James Lee Burke returns to the literary scene with the character of Sheriff Hackberry Holland, who patrols a small Southwest Texas border town. Mourning the loss of his cherished wife, the sheriff feeds off the deeds of evil men to keep his own demons at bay. But when the investigation of a man tortured to death in the desert leads him to a mysterious Chinese woman who reminds him of his wife, the danger increases. Throw in the return of serial murderer Preacher Jack Collins, presumed dead at the end of “Rain Gods,” and Burke has another winner. Like the author on Facebook.
by Malcolm Shuman
published by Academy Chicago Publishers
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1941, Malcolm Shuman grew up in Baton Rouge and got his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University. His 15th novel, “The Levee” tells the story of Colin Douglas, a 63-year-old crime writer who decides to return to the scene of a terrible incident from his high school days. While camping on the Mississippi River levee, one of Douglas’s friends left to drive into town and never returned. Shuman also weaves in the murder of a young Spanish teacher, inspired by the real-life 1960 murder of University of New Orleans professor Dr. Margaret Rosamond McMillan.
Little Gale Gumbo
by Erika Marks
published by NAL/Penguin
North Carolina writer Erika Marks published her debut novel in October. Hailing from New Orleans, the book’s main character Camille Bergeron runs Little Gale Gumbo Cafe off the coast of Maine. Here’s a delicious excerpt: “There was never anything magical in the gumbo … From the peanut butter–brown roux to the slender rounds of her sliced okra, Camille Bergeron made her gumbo the very same way her Creole mother had made it in her own kitchen for nearly forty years. But then, Camille should have known that a single woman from New Orleans with caramel skin couldn’t arrive on the cold and quiet shores of an island in Maine in 1977 and expect to blend in.” Follow the author on Twitter @erikamarksauthr or like her on Facebook.
Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives
by R. Reese Fuller
published by University Press of Mississippi
A former journalist at Lafayette, Louisiana’s Times of Acadiana, R. Reese Fuller is known around town for his compelling stories and interviews with local characters. With a beautiful cover featuring a painting by late South Louisiana artist Elemore Morgan Jr., interviewed in the book, “Angola to Zydeco” is a collection of creative nonfiction pieces about the personalities who call South Louisiana home. You’ll recognize names like James Lee Burke, Ernest Gaines and Buckwheat Zydeco, while also learning about Tabasco peppers, Angola prison and cockfighting. Like the book on Facebook.
The Bayou Trilogy
by Daniel Woodrell
published by Mulholland Books
“What people say about Cormac McCarthy … goes double for Woodrell. Possibly more,” said New York Magazine about Daniel Woodrell. The author already proved himself with “Winter’s Bone,” and his followup book is set in the parish of St. Bruno, where sex is easy, corruption festers and double-dealing is a way of life. Detective Rene Shade takes on hit men, porn kings, ex-cons and his own ghosts in the book’s three parts.
by Joe Samuel Starnes
published by New South Books
Being compared to James Dickey’s “Deliverance,” Joe Samuel Starnes’ second novel revolves around the premise that the Oogasula River is about to be dammed by the Georgia Power Company. Based on true events, the plot unfolds in one day as viewed through the eyes of ex-deputy Elmer Blizzard, Mrs. McNulty, a lonely widow who refuses to leave her shack by the river, her dog, Percy, and State Sen. Aubrey Terrell, for whom the new lake is named. “Fall Line” is a story of land grabs, wounded families and revenge in the changing South. Follow the author on Twitter @JSamuelStarnes and watch the book trailer here.
Look Away Dixieland
by James B. Twitchell
published by Louisiana State University Press
The subtitle to this book says it best: “A Carpetbagger’s Great-Grandson Travels Highway 84 in Search of the Shack-up-on-Cinder-Blocks, Confederate-Flag-Waving, Squirrel-Hunting, Boiled-Peanuts, Deep-Drawl, Don’t-Stop-the-Car-Here South.” As a boy, James Twitchell heard stories about his ancestors in Louisiana and even played with his great-grandfather’s Civil War sword, but he never appreciated the state and the events that influenced a pivotal chapter in his family history. In “Look Away Dixieland,” Twitchell sets out from his current home in Florida to find the “real” South. Traveling in an RV across Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to Louisiana, he seeks to answer the question: “If I drive slowly across the region, will I come to understand better what happened to my kin in the 1870s?”
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty
by Joshilyn Jackson
published by Grand Central
Joshilyn Jackson’s much-awaited new novel, “A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty,” comes out in January. Following “Backseat Saints,” Jackson’s latest follows the Slocumb women, whom trouble finds every 15 years. As their youngest turns 15, commotion is chasing all three generations, from the discovery of a makeshift cemetery in the back yard to a stroke and teenage pregnancy. “‘A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty’ proves again that Joshilyn Jackson is one the best writers of the new generation,” says “Crazy in Alabama” author Mark Childress. Follow her on Twitter @JoshilynJackson or like her on Facebook.