A Carrion Death
By Michael Stanley
HarperCollins, $23.95When detective David “Kubu” Bengu is called to solve a murder in the Kalahari Desert, he discovers a hyena-ravaged body that’s nearly impossible to identify. As he pieces together the case, his leads unmask a cover-up and he stumbles upon a corrupt diamond-mining scheme. Writing team Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (the latter divides his time between Minneapolis and South Africa) combine their names and creative forces to produce a mystery that’s consistently engaging and aptly showcases their familiarity with Africa. Well-placed clues will help readers as perceptive as Kubu to solve the case.
Suburban World: The Norling Photos
By Brad Zellar
Borealis Books, $27.95Twin Cities–based writer Brad Zellar was poking around the Bloomington Historical Society’s basement a few years back when he came across some 10,000 photographs of mid-20th century Bloomington. The images—of suburbia, youth, death—belonged to Irwin Norling, a Honeywell designer who spent his free time capturing the day-to-day goings-on of Bloomington. This survey of fascinating photos also includes an introductory note about Norling and his family—who joined him at every car crash, city council meeting, and 2 a.m. fire.
Slow Dancing on the Ocean Floor
Self-releasedThe Minneapolis band Bella Koshka sounds like it’s from the future—some industrial, post-apocalyptic future. The musicians create a world that’s kinda eerie, and kinda bleak, but you also think David Bowie might be there, wearing a really cool outfit. The group’s moody debut features Hilary Davis’s keening violin and Laura Boland’s aching lyrics. Heavy bass lines and a procession of other electronica keeps you suspended in murky, lovely limbo land. “Echo” plays like a creepy, slow-moving carousel that’s about to break down, and “Stitches” conjures a lost kitten, yearning to be rescued.
The Dark, Delirious Morning
Self-releasedIn the non-committal age of iTunes, where you can cheaply sample and pluck songs from the Net with reckless abandon, it is a measure of a band’s greatness if you actually want to listen to more than a few of their tunes. Chris Koza is one of them. The man’s got pop down. His third LP should firmly cement him as a Twin Cities music must-have. Koza’s footprints are already all over the scene: his 2006 album, Patterns, won him a Minnesota Music Award for best male vocalist and best pop recording. Take the bold step beyond listening to a 30-second snippet online.
Sketched OutA few years ago, the New York Times suggested that graphic novels were fast becoming storytelling’s new medium. Minnesotan cartoonist Lars Martinson would tell you there’s nothing fast about it—he spent four years on the first book of his series Tõnoharu, which came out this spring. The story follows an American teaching English in a Japanese school, and is loosely based on Martinson’s own experiences living in Japan. The pen-and-ink illustrations require so much time to complete that he expects it will take 12 years to finish the entire series. (He’s only able to produce two or three pages a week.) Still, he’s upbeat: “I have the whole story plotted out,” he says, “so it’s just a matter of drawing it.”