by Julie Kramer
Julie Kramer’s first novel is a treat of Minnesota-flavored crime fiction. November television sweeps has arrived, and Minneapolis investigative journalist Riley Spartz is determined to prove worthy of her previous Emmys by reporting the most-watched story. Returning to her job after a personal tragedy, Spartz jumps back into the newsroom clutching two cold-case files of murdered women named Susan. As she digs deeper, she finds more Susan victims—all murdered on the same date. Spartz must race to link the crimes, air the story in time, and stop a serial killer before he strikes again.
Chief Bender’s Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star
by Tom Swift
University of Nebraska Press, $25
Minnesota writer Tom Swift chronicles the life of Charles Albert Bender, an Ojibwe Indian who played baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics. From 1903 through 1914, he battled prejudice and poor health while crafting a Hall of Fame career. The book is heavy on baseball lore—Bender competed against the likes of Ty Cobb and was one of the first pitchers to throw a slider—but Swift’s account of the treatment of Native Americans and his richly detailed portrait of Philadelphia at the beginning of the 20th century will also interest general readers.
The Hold Steady
If you’re new to the Hold Steady, don’t bother checking out these punk-rock smarties on the treadmill at the gym—not with this disc anyway. Go see ’em live in concert. In fact, even if you’re already a fan, see ’em live instead. The onstage energy and camaraderie of these Twin Citians turned Brooklynites, led by the boundlessly sunny yet somehow never annoying singer and sometimes shouter Craig Finn, must be experienced to be felt. If you manage to catch all of the references to Finn’s Edina upbringing, you’ll want them to be your best friends—and that’s something best attempted, of course, in person.
When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Sh*t Gold
Sometimes it’s hard to discern the context from which Atmosphere springs. Disco! No, early rap. Wait, totally ’80s electronica! Unusually eclectic for a hip-hop act, the prolific Slug and Ant even get a little Latin groove going in their song “Me,” while the minimalism on other tracks seems straight out of MTV’s Unplugged. This disc stands shoulder to shoulder with Atmosphere’s strongest previous outings, with standouts including the bouncy “You,” the throwback “Shoulda Known,” and the singer-songwriter-styled “Guarantees.” And get this: Tom Waits beatboxes on one track.
What I’m Reading Now…
Stephen Trojahn, executive chef of Cosmos
When it comes to his food, Trojahn homes in on flavor with a molecular gastronomy flare. As for his books, he’s focused primarily on food and business.
1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (He’s about to start it.) 2. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras 3. The Restaurant Dream? by Lee Simon 4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell 5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins