SOMETIMES THE WOLF is an INDIE NEXT PICK, an AMAZON EDITORS' PICK, a HIGH COUNTRY NEWS EDITORS' PICK, and is part of KIRKUS REVIEW'S FALL HITS LIST.
"Sometimes The Wolf is a tremendous novel by a rising powerhouse of a writer. Urban Waite tells tense, thrilling stories with thoughtfulness and emotional clarity, and his prose is simply astonishing. Anyone who is late to the party couldn't ask for a better entry point than this hybrid of crime drama and father-son story."—MICHAEL KORYTA, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
"Waite weaves a gripping tale of family intrigue, betrayal, lies, deception, kidnapping, murder, and even forgiveness. The story flows faster as the pace of action increases. Highly recommended for fans of Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard and gritty thrillers in general." -LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED REVIEW
“A brisk plot, well-developed characters, thoughtful reflections on the ebb and flow of family ties, and — most of all — Waite’s eloquent language describing his setting’s untamed beauty.”-ADAM WOOG, The Seattle Times
"It’s a rare thing to balance a thriller plot on characters with such stooped shoulders, but Waite manages the feat with surprising dexterity. Another emotionally rich novel from a very special writer." -BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW
Set in the Pacific Northwest, a spellbinding story of family, violence, and unintended consequences that showcases the searing prose, soulful characters, and vivid sense of place of an acclaimed writer in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, and Elmore Leonard.
Sheriff Patrick Drake tried to lead an upstanding life and maintain some financial stability until his wife passed away. He did okay for a while, singlehandedly raising his family in a small mountain town. Then he was hit with money troubles, fell in with some unsavory men, and ended up convicted of one of the biggest crimes in local history.
Twelve years later Patrick is on parole under the watchful eye of his son Bobby, who just happens to be a deputy sheriff in his father’s old department. Bobby hasn’t had it easy, either. He’s carried the weight of his father’s guilt, forsaking his own dreams, and put off the knowledge that his own marriage could be stronger and more hopeful. Yet no matter how much distance he’s tried to put between himself, his father, his grandfather, and the past, small town minds can have very long memories.
But trouble isn’t done with the Drakes—and a terrifying threat boils up from Patrick’s old life. And this time, no one will be spared. . . .
(From the William Morrow book jacket for Sometimes the Wolf)
Finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award
"Waite follows his acclaimed first novel, 2011's The Terror of Living, with another searing western noir. Three people face terrifying moral choices as they each wish for what they can't have." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
“A Pandora’s box of chain reactions. . . havoc that is described in such graphically poetic prose that it occasionally makes the hair on even a cynical noir fan’s head stand on end.” BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW
“A lean and mean, modern-day noir western filled with complex characters and situations . . . hauntingly dark and elegiac writing . . . a candidate for best crime book of 2013.” NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
“Waite writes with grace and poignancy and keen comprehension of hard men in hard circumstances . . . [The] narrative rages as a perfect torrent of violence flooding toward its inevitable conclusion. Fierce and lyrical.” KIRKUS REVIEWS
Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with vengeance and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction—the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living
Life hasn’t worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower who has made some tragic mistakes, he’s got one good thing going for him: he’s calm and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. A useful skill to have when you’re paid to hurt people who stand in your boss’s way.
But Ray isn’t sure he wants to be that man anymore. He wants to go home and see the son he hopes will recognize him. He wants to make a new life far from the violence of the last ten years, and he believes that one last job will take him there. A job that should be simple, easy, clean.
Ray knows there’s no such thing as easy, and sure enough, the first day ends in a catastrophic mess. Now the runners who have always moved quietly through this desert town on the Mexican border want answers. And revenge. Short on time, with no one to trust but himself, Ray must come up with a clever plan or Coronado, New Mexico’s new lady sheriff will have a vicious bloodbath on her hands.
Set in a town once rich with oil, now forgotten and struggling, The Carrion Birds is filled with refreshingly real and vulnerable characters. With its masterfully orchestrated suspense and unexpected bursts of lyricism, this is a remarkably unsettling and indelible work in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane.
(From the William Morrow book jacket for The Carrion Birds)
The Terror of Living makes Esquire Magazine’s Best Books of the Year list!
Stephen King picks The Terror of Living for his Summer Reading List in Entertainment Weekly!
The Terror of Living grabs the first spot on The Daily Mail’s book critics' top picks of the summer list!
Booklist Starred Review!Library Journal Starred Review!
Phil Hunt is in deep trouble.
Hunt is on the run from two men: Drake, the deputy sheriff who intends to catch him, and Grady, the vicious hitman who means to kill him.
For twenty years Hunt has lived in Washington State, raising horses with his wife on his small farm. He's tried to stay out of trouble, wanting only to make a living and taking the occasional illicit job in order to do so.
Then his last delivery goes horribly wrong, and the chase is on from the mountains down into the Puget lowlands. To have any chance of rescuing his quiet life, Hunt will have to deal with deputy sheriff Bobby Drake, a good man determined to make up for his father's tainted legacy and Grady Fisher, a very bad man intent on making a name for himself in the most violent ways. With a fondness for blood, Grady takes pleasure in the use of knives, taking Hunt's life apart piece by piece, all the while leaving a trail of victims across the state.
Relentless and gorgeously written, with original characters and a vividly powerful sense of place, THE TERROR OF LIVING heralds the arrival of a writer who will be compared with the great suspense novelists.
(From the Little, Brown book jacket for THE TERROR OF LIVING)
Purchase novels from Barnes and Noble
Purchase The Terror of Living or The Carrion Birds from independent bookstores (US) -
The Elliott Bay Book Company
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
- OR -
Locate your closest store
Purchase The Terror of Living or Dead if I Don't from
Appearances and Events
Upcoming Appearances for SOMETIMES THE WOLF:
September 27, 2014, 4-830pm: Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Feast of Authors event. (PNBA members only).
October 21, 2014, 12 noon. Book Signing on publication day at Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Seattle, WA.
October 23, 2014, 7pm: Reading for Seattle Lit Crawl's Crime and Punishment extravaganza. With Jennifer Murphy (I LOVE YOU MORE) and journalist Claudia Rowe, with Suzanne "six degrees of Ted Bundy" Morrison hosting. Vito's, Seattle, WA.
October 28, 2014, 7pm: Reading and Book Signing for Elliott Bay Books. Seattle, WA.
November 1, 2014, 5pm: Reading and Book Signing for Sunriver Books. Sunriver, OR.
November 3, 2014, 7pm: Reading and Signing for Powell's Books. Beaverton, OR.
June 22, 2014, 7pm: Reading with Alexi Zentner and Jennifer Murphy as part of the the Exceptional Emerging Novelists event at Richard Hugo House, Seattle WA.
March 2, 2014, 3pm: Hosting James Scott and his novel The Kept at Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA.
March 22, 2014, 6pm: Literary Lions Gala to benefit the King County Library System, Bellevue, WA.
April 10, 2014, 7pm: Reading at the Georgia Center for the Book in Atlanta with Jamie Quatro, Laura van den Berg, and James Scott.
May 2-4, 2014: Teaching a writing seminar for The Muse & the Marketplace, Boston, MA.
January 27, 2013: Signing at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference, Seattle, WA.
October 13, 2012: Signing at the PNBA Nightcapper event, Tacoma, WA.
March 10, 2012: Literary Lions Gala, King County Library System Foundation, Bellevue, WA.
November 10, 2011: Brecksville Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library System, Brecksville, OH.
October 28, 2011: Long Talking Bad Conditions Blues Reading Series, Seattle WA.
July 26-August 7, 2011: Sewanee Writers' Conference, The University of the South, Sewanee, TN.
July 21-24, 2011: Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK.
April 16, 2011: Field's End Writers' Conference, Kiana Lodge near Poulsbo, WA.
SOMETIMES THE WOLF
“A brisk plot, well-developed characters, thoughtful reflections on the ebb and flow of family ties, and — most of all — Waite’s eloquent language describing his setting’s untamed beauty.”
-ADAM WOOG, The Seattle Times
"It’s a rare thing to balance a thriller plot on characters with such stooped shoulders, but Waite manages the feat with surprising dexterity. Another emotionally rich novel from a very special writer."
-BILL OTT, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Sometimes the Wolf is a tremendous novel by a rising powerhouse of a writer. Urban Waite tells tense, thrilling stories with thoughtfulness and emotional clarity, and his prose is simply astonishing. Anyone who is late to the party couldn't ask for a better entry point than this hybrid of crime drama and father-son story."
-MICHAEL KORYTA, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
“If you buy this book—and I sincerely hope you do—the casual ease with which Waite tosses out that final clue, the one which lays bare all the family secrets, will have you shaking your head with admiration.”
-CATH MURPHY, Lit Reactor
“Sometimes the Wolf is a beauteous and frightening joy to read from beginning to end, a tale in which the reader never knows quite what will happen from page to page or even from paragraph to paragraph. It is violent and unsettling in spots, quiet and heartbreaking in others. It also has a conclusion that echoes back through the novel and all that occurs, one that you probably won’t expect. If you are unfamiliar with Waite’s previous books --- all of which are stand-alone works --- you’ll want to set aside some time after reading his latest to catch up. Waite is a marvel.”
-JOE HARTLAUB, bookreporter.com
"Waite weaves a gripping tale of family intrigue, betrayal, lies, deception, kidnapping, murder, and even forgiveness. The story flows faster as the pace of action increases. Highly recommended for fans of Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard and gritty thrillers in general."
-Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“Urban Waite has been compared to McCarthy in more than a few major critical outlets, and he’s had Stephen King reap praise upon him, and I’m here to tell you, all of it is justified. But make no mistake, Waite writes entirely with his own voice. His three novels—The Terror of Living, The Carrion Birds, and the newly released, Sometimes The Wolf—are brilliant explorations into the desperation created by the modern world, filled with the breakneck action of white-knuckle thrillers, but with a keen literary depth rarely seen in such novels. Simply put, Waite is an exceptional talent, and I’m positive within the next decade, new novelists will be compared to him and they will know how the weight of such a comparison feels.”
-KEITH RAWSON, Lit Reactor
“A father-and-son relationship, perhaps broken beyond repair, fuels Urban Waite's engrossing novel that skillfully exposes the complicated emotions that can stymie a once close family while also working as a superb action-adventure tale…"Sometimes the Wolf" moves at a fast clip, combining an action-adventure motif, the mystery genre and realistic plot twists.”
-OLINE H. COGDILL, Associated Press
"Urban Waite is the rarest of writers: one who encourages you to turn the page to find out what happens while simultaneously forcing you to slow and admire the language and the tone he creates. In Sometimes the Wolf, Waite throws us into a rush of suspense and danger that tests the limits of the bond between father and son, and takes us on a thrilling trek through the Pacific Northwest he evokes so well. This is a book to read straight through."
-JAMES SCOTT, Author of The Kept
“With a gift for descriptive language, Waite shows superb familiarity with Washington’s dualities—the lush, green western slope and the great, flat wind-swept east, every inch of wild nature a metaphor reinforcing his theme. A tale of greed and violence and loyalty and of fathers and sons who communicate in silence, ‘fearful of what response might come, of what truths might be revealed.’”
“The story is told smoothly, blending sweet domestic scenes with fast action, violence, kidnapping and murder, all against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, which are lovingly described by author Urban Waite. The characters are realistically drawn— the good guys (especially the DEA agent and the sheriff) heavily flawed, and the bad guys very bad. But what makes Sometimes the Wolf tick is the strained but loving relationship between father and son. The plot is tight, and the action fast. It is easy to read, but hard to put down. You just might lose some sleep over this one.”
THE CARRION BIRDS
“A lean and mean, modern-day noir western filled with complex characters and situations . . . surely a candidate for best crime book of 2013.”
-SAM MILLAR, New York Journal of Books
"Waite follows his acclaimed first novel, 2011's The Terror of Living, with another searing western noir. Three people face terrifying moral choices as they each wish for what they can't have."
-Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A Pandora’s box of chain reactions that wreaks havoc on a small southwestern town, havoc that is described in such graphically poetic prose that it occasionally makes the hair on even a cynical noir fan’s head stand on end.”
-BILL OTT, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“[An] amazing novel….Like the best of James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, or Cormac McCarthy….Effortlessly entertaining, thought provoking, and deeply moving.”
-ALAN HEATHCOCK, author of Volt
"The Carrion Birds is a bracing ride, and it’s a pleasure to see new changes rung on classic themes, especially when they’re done this well."
-ADAM WOOG, The Seattle Times
"The Carrion Birds, a tale of a Vietnam vet--slash--criminal enforcer is as muscular and laconic as anything by Cormac McCarthy, yet it crackles with humanity."
-TINA JORDAN, Entertainment Weekly
"With little effort, one could draw a line that commences at a place in the midst of John Steinbeck’s shorter fiction, continues through Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, and ends at The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite. The Terror of Living, Waite’s 2011 debut novel, more than fulfilled its own promise; The Carrion Birds, his sophomore effort, manages to surpass his first with a dark and violent tale of attempted atonement and redemption that seems doomed to fail from the start…The Carrion Birds [is] another triumph for Waite, with the promise of more and even better to come."
-JOE HARTLAUB, bookreporter.com
“Waite writes with grace and poignancy and keen comprehension of hard men in hard circumstances . . . [The] narrative rages as a perfect torrent of violence flooding toward its inevitable conclusion. Fierce and lyrical.”
“A brutal and gorgeous novel full of characters stuck at life’s harshest intersections, The Carrion Birds is a relentlessly gripping story….”
-PETER MOUNTFORD, author of A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism
“Clearly, Waite has great work ahead of him. After reading The Carrion Birds, I found it impossible to deny that his skill grows more sophisticated every year. His latest work explores a nuanced range of emotion without sacrificing any of the teeth-clenching grit that made his first book so compelling.”
-CAM TERWILLIGER, Fiction Writers Review
“Explosive….Thoughtful and entertaining—and well worth reading.”
“A disquieting novel that will appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy.”
"Urban Waite doesn’t waste any time plunging readers into the fray...Waite’s book is fast-paced and interesting. He’s created a bad guy in Ray who isn’t all bad, and a good guy in Tom who’s far from lily-white."
-CHRIS STUCKENSCHNEIDER, The Missourian
“Waite, fortunately, has an unsparing way with words and the ability to send his extras spiraling off in unexpected directions…we may have to sign up for the long term.”
-STEVE DUIN, The Oregonian
"Like the brutal yet solid storytelling of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, Urban Waite’s new book is true western noir that examines destructive moral dilemmas...The Carrion Birds moves at a brisk pace, with an unflinching brutality."
-OLINE H. COGDILL, The Miami Herald
“A violent and shattering read… imbued with a kind of fate-laden poetry.”
-GRAEME BLUNDELL, The Australian
THE TERROR OF LIVING
"A hell of a good novel, relentlessly paced and beautifully narrated. There's just no let-up. An auspicious debut."
"It’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys in a modern western, of which Urban Waite’s first novel, The Terror of Living, is one fine specimen."
-MARILYN STASIO, New York Times Sunday Book Review
“One of the best this year.”
-BENJAMIN PERCY, Esquire Magazine’s Best Books of the Year List
“This formidable fiction debut by Urban Waite unfolds in short and often all too memorably violent sequences, yet the author also allows his characters room to wrestle with private demons as the intense, often gruesome tale races toward its satisfying resolution."
–TOM NOLAN, The Wall Street Journal
"Told with a force that lifts off the page, and a sentient clarity about ordinary people trapped in crisis, it’s a superb debut thriller."
-GEOFFREY WANSELL, The Daily Mail
“Always taut, always intelligent, always bloody, this is an outstanding debut thriller.”
-ROGER PERKINS, The Telegraph
"A few years ago, just as the creases were starting to form on his chiseled face, Clint Eastwood would have been perfect for the role of Phil Hunt, a horse farmer and ex-convict in Washington State who supplements his meager income with the occasional spot of drug smuggling.... Hunt is cut from the western rugged-individualist mold, but there is vulnerability there, too, just behind the eyes.... In a blood-spattered chase that winds from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington to Seattle and back again, first-novelist Waite never eases the throttle, but even at high speed, it's the interplay between the characters that gives the novel its power. An outstanding debut."
–BILL OTT, Booklist, Starred Review
"This remarkable debut, full of character and bleakness and written with vim and intelligence, will linger in the reader's mind long after the book is laid aside."
-SEAMUS SCANLON, Library Journal, Starred Review
"In the tradition of No Country for Old Men, Urban Waite has written a nail-biter that takes off from the get-go and never stops, a book chock full of memorable characters and kick-ass writing. Clear your calendar before reading this one, folks, because once you start there's no stopping until the end, which arrived much too quickly for this reader. A smashing debut."
–TOM FRANKLIN, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
"After a drug drop goes awry, ex-cons, drug lords, a psychopath and law officers play seek and maim in the Pacific Northwest in this debut thriller.... The pursuits that follow are complicated and play out in sharply written, swiftly paced scenes. But as the book's prose...and its violence--in a stark Cormac McCarthy landscape--suggest, Waite aims for more than a straightforward thriller.... the meticulously calibrated prose, rushing narrative and sympathetic protagonists mark Waite as a rewarding, promising writer."
“Drug smuggling in the Pacific Northwest provides the backdrop for Waite’s promising debut. Phil Hunt leads a quiet life with his wife, Nora, raising horses near Auburn, Wash., except when he’s helping make drug deliveries through the mountains to Canada... Living in nearby Silver Lake is deputy Bobby Drake, the son of a legendary lawman who got arrested smuggling drugs just like Phil. Disaster results after Bobby… inadvertently stumbles on Phil and his new partner during the middle of a drug exchange. Soon, Phil is on the run not only from the law but also a ruthless assassin sent by the smugglers. Waite eloquently depicts men in turmoil for whom the choice isn’t necessarily between right and wrong but where to draw the line.”
"The Terror of Living is a smart, swiftly-paced and bloody Western for our moment. Urban Waite is a writer who won't let a reader wander away--he keeps you reading, and reading, and rewards all your attention with a powerhouse story and prose to match."
–DANIEL WOODRELL, author of Winter's Bone and The Bayou Trilogy
"Reads like a Pacific Northwest remake of Cormac McCarthy's classic....Waite brings a nimble touch to the material… Lines are rendered with surprising delicacy, and [his] knife-fetishist villain makes for an oddly endearing sociopath. Also, what a title!"
"The Terror of Living opens with gentle beauty, calm before a bloody storm, before building intensity with swift, jarring, and confident storytelling power. A fine debut from a writer of obvious and substantial talents. Readers--including this one--will certainly be following Urban Waite for years to come."
–MICHAEL KORYTA, author of The Cypress House
“Waite writes convincingly about the joys of the wilderness, and he wisely keeps his focus on the interplay between the two main characters in this sure-footed debut.”
–ADAM WOOG, The Seattle Times
"A supercharged suspenseful thriller peopled by colorful characters and driven by terrifying events that begin at mach speed and never slow for a moment. Supremely cinematic."
–JOSEPH WAMBAUGH, author of the Hollywood Station novels
“There’s a lot of blood in this book. It seeps under doors, pulses from gunshot wounds and sprays from jugulars. For all the gore, though, the defining quality of Urban Waite’s gripping existential thriller is an elegant sparseness, which inevitably recalls Cormac McCarthy.”
–ADRIAN TURPIN, The Financial Times
"Urban Waite is a writer who knows what he's doing and this killer novel drives that home every hard-charging step of the way. In Waite's hands, scenes come at you like bursts of machine gun fire, and it's testament to his skill - setting that pops off the page, dialogue that crackles, characters you can't help but care about - that you won't want them to stop hitting."
–JOSH WEIL, author of The New Valley
"The action is dynamic and cleverly choreographed, but the lush intricacy of the novel springs from the inner lives of these two men where, woven through the brutal mayhem, is an odd, indelible core of sweetness."
-KATHERINE DUNN, The Oregonian
“The arrival of a tremendous new writer—fearless, adept, assured.”
–RICK SIMONSON, Elliott Bay Book Company
“A beautiful and powerful new voice.”
—OTTO PENZLER, author of Best American Noir of the Century
"Fasten your seat belts. Sometimes a debut crime/thriller novel appears which in its sheer assurance and command of the medium suggests that the writer is not learning the ropes but is someone who has been honing their craft for years."
–VANESSA BERRIDGE, The Daily Express
“Waite's own story and his smooth prose take over so completely that all that matters is what happens next.”
—DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press
“Absorbing and atmospheric debut thriller”
“Make sure you've got a few hours to kill the moment you pick up this book. Urban Waite has produced a breathlessly paced debut that's over-the-top in the best possible way, featuring a villain who's one of the most brutal, real, and haunting characters I've encountered, ever.”
–Powell’s Books, Staff Pick
“Waite is an impressive writer with a lean, muscular style reminiscent of his obvious heroes – McCarthy, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Stone.”
-JOHN O’CONNEL, The Guardian
“A compelling blend of breathless plotting and existential angst. Beautifully descriptive of Seattle’s rural hinterland, The Terror of Living is a remarkably assured debut.”
-DECLAN BURKE, Irish Times
“First-time author Urban Waite may be just 28, but he has delivered a stunningly assured and nail-bitingly exciting tale filled with memorable characters who must decide at every turn where their loyalties lie.”
-The Irish Independent
“The book and the author have been the subject of a great deal of hype in recent weeks. After reading The Terror of Living, you will see that, if anything, it has been understated. Strongly recommended.”
-JOE HARTLAUB, bookreporter.com
"(A) superbly written chase novel set in Washington State.... A cat-and-mouse pursuit, gut-clenching violence (fair warning, the book cannot make the claim, "no horses were harmed in the making of this story"), loyalties sundered -- all come with the genre. What is rarer is the finely honed literary sensibility of the writer, who conveys the sensory reality of his settings with evocative exactitude.... Waite's considerable talent in general serves him well."
- P.G. KOCH, The Houston Chronicle
"This is a chase, a thriller, a western and a character study that combines everything in a beautiful poetic prose."
-MARGARET CANNON, Globe and Mail
"Waite’s writing can be lush and lyrical one moment, propulsive the next, as the story barrels ahead at breakneck speed."
-HALLIE EPHRON, The Boston Globe
“A drug deal gone wrong, a determined deputy, a running man, a psycho killer. Don’t forget compelling dialogue, well-developed characters, the Pacific Northwest as a backdrop and a relatively happy ending.”?
-ALLEN PIERLIONI, Sacramento Bee
“That The Terror of Living is author Urban Waite’s first novel is quite an accomplishment, especially considering it is deservedly drawing comparisons to No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy; not too bad for your first rodeo. With a tour de force debut like this, it’s scary to think what Waite will serve up next. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting.”
-ELIZABETH A. WHITE, Savannah Morning News
Waite has written what is probably the literary thriller of the year, a sensuous noir western. His prose simply gorgeous.
GRAEME BLUNDELL, The Australian
"Pure dynamite. This is one of those books you start at one in the afternoon and put down, winded, after midnight."
-STEPHEN KING, Entertainment Weekly, Summer Reading List
“This debut heralds the arrival of a new star thriller writer. Supremely accomplished, and written in cool spare prose with a bleak eye for character it simply jumps off the page…with the sheer force of the story-telling and its wonderful clarity about ordinary people trapped in a crisis. Superb.”
-GEOFFREY WANSELL, The Daily Mail, Book Critics's Picks