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Short Takes: March 2011 


Lost Hearts
Vincent Panella
Apollo’s Bow, 2010, $14.95
A powerfully written suite of linked stories follows one family from an old-country Sicilian village to an Italian neighborhood in Queens. Former Newburgh resident Panella gets the period details and voices pitch-perfect. In one of his pithiest stories, “Long Sugar,” a scrappy diabetic faces mortality in a room stripped of everything but a few family photos and the echo of a train.


Daring to Eat a Peach
Joseph Zeppetello
Atticus Books, 2010, $14.95
Denton Pike is at a quiet crossroads. An academic translator, divorced and still gun-shy, he’s settled into an understimulating routine. Then his old friend Peter reenters his circle, holding open the door to change. Does he dare, and does he dare? Marist professor Zeppetello’s subtle, densely populated debut novel reverberates with big questions and smart conversations.


Stalina
Emily Rubin
AmazonEncore, 2011, $14.95
Here’s a storyline you don’t find every day: feisty Soviet chemist emigrates with a suitcase full of bras and finds an unlikely niche as a chambermaid and, eventually, fantasy-theme decorator of a disreputable Hartford motel. Bard graduate and Pushcart Prize nominee Rubin has created an immigrant tale as forceful, unique, and surprising as her unforgettable heroine.


Leo Flower
Norman Isaacson
iUniverse, 2010, $18.95
Retired Lehman College professor Isaacson may live in the Hudson Valley, but a piece of his heart still resides in New York City. When stolid police lieutenant Leo Flower’s adoptive parents—an elderly priest and his sister—are murdered, Leo vows to avenge their deaths, even as he’s pulled into the vortex of an assassination plot against the Pope.


Something Red
Douglas Nicholas
Scribes, 2010, $19.95
You think you had a rough winter? Imagine a clutch of medieval travelers crossing a wild English wood as a howling blizzard whites out everything but a partially eaten roadside corpse. Award-winning Rosendale poet Nicholas spins a richly textured yarn of sorcery and shapeshifting, featuring a fiery Irishwoman, her mysterious granddaughter, and a plucky apprentice named Hob.


Silent Victim
C. E. Lawrence
Pinnacle, 2010, $6.99
Don’t stop shivering yet. Silent Screams author Lawrence grabs readers by the throat with a trio of drownings, each with a suicide note and a missing chunk of flesh—even by serial killer standards, this one is twisted. As embattled NYPD profiler Lee Campbell stalks the stalker, Lawrence keeps the adrenalin pumping, building suspense on both banks of the Hudson.

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