Winter Reads

Three Books to Curl up with on a Cold Night

Nick Petrulakis

If you like your books to come in pretty packages, look no further than this Inspector Maigret mystery with a cover that evokes 1930s Paris and an almost square format that fits comfortably in the hand. And then, of course, there’s the story.
    The Yellow Dog is one of Georges Simenon’s finest novels, and one of his most unique. Maigret is best remembered for inhabiting interwar Paris, a city littered with smoky bistros and beautiful people committing crimes—sometimes petty, sometimes extravagant. The Yellow Dog finds Maigret in Brittany, not Paris, without his usual assistants ready to fetch a beer or a sandwich for their chief. When a corpse is discovered in this squalid fishing port, Maigret must contend with a hodgepodge of suspects, each trying to hide something from the inspector. And of course there’s the curious yellow dog, nipping in and out of the action, helping to create a perfect, atmospheric treat.

The Yellow Dog, by Georges Simenon
(Penguin Books, 2006, 160 pp., $12)


This is another pretty package, but rarely do packages contain the delights to be found within Lewis Buzbee’s The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. Buzbee, a novelist and short story writer, has been besotted with bookstores all his life—from the Upstart Crow store he worked in as a teenager in San Jose to the University of San Francisco campus where he is a professor of writing.
    Buzbee describes the absolute delight and visceral joy brought to him by bookstores as he walks the aisles, brushing his fingers against the books stacked there for a reader—for him—to discover. If there’s a reader in your life, why not give him the perfect gift—a love letter to books and bookstores that traces their history from Egypt’s Alexandria to San Francisco’s City Lights.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, by Lewis Buzbee
(Graywolf Press, 2006, 216 pp. $17)


Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind is just the thing to slip into on a cold winter night. Lind’s sleuth, Annie Kincaid, combines the spunk and intelligence of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone with the spot-on observations of John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway. But where Janeway always has an acerbic comment about the quality of writers today, Kincaid’s métier is the world of art.
    Kincaid is an accomplished art forger, who has tried to leave her past behind and concentrate on painting murals for the kiddy bedrooms of San Francisco’s nouveau riche. But then Kincaid discovers the body of an artist at his own opening and a museum next door has a Chagall stolen. Kincaid is implicated in one crime, and a friend is implicated in the other. What is a recovering forger to do? Read Shooting Gallery to find out.

Shooting Gallery, by Hailey Lind
(Signet, 2006, 352 pp. $6.99) 

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