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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of January 12, 2009

Only 347 more days until Christmas. Here's a few gift ideas:

FICTION

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
By Charlie Huston

In Charlie Huston's second stand-alone novel (after Shotgun Rule), Web Goodhue, a thirty-something Hollywood grade school teacher turned full-time slacker traumatized by the violent death of a student, quits his job and retreats into a freeloading shell. With the threat of eviction, though, Web reluctantly lucks into an oddly satisfying job with Team Clean, a crime scene cleanup crew in which he's intent and content in scrubbing up the remains of the recently deceased, giving him a new lease on life via death, and a little hope as he finds himself flirting with a suicide’s daughter, who eventually bats her eyelashes and asks a favor. Her brother’s in need of somebody who can clean up a mess. Can he, huh? How can he resist? Soon enough, however, Web is entangled in stolen goods, human smuggling, murderous criminals, and kidnapping. With grit and wit, and pervasive black humor punctuated with sharp dialogue, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death promises to be an entertaining thrill-ride of a read.

3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows
By Ann Brashares

Best of Everything
By Kimberla Lawson Roby

Mounting Fears (Will Lee Series #7)
By Stuart Woods

The Piano Teacher
By Janice Y.K. Lee

NON-FICTION

The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power
By David E. Sanger

“Bush wrote a lot of checks,” one senior intelligence official told author David E. Sanger, “that the next president is going to have to cash.” Offering a behind-the-doors history of our foreign policy adventures and misadventures and a clear-cut account for future prospects, the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and award-winning investigative journalist for national security and White House reporting tells the tales, the inside stuff, that have culminated in the unprecedented world crisis that now faces us. It’s all here: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and China. As are nuclear and economic concerns, among others. With The Inheritance, Sanger has written an “urgent intelligence briefing” on the world America and the upcoming administration faces.

Imagining Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography
By Maria DiBattista

Who’s afraid of a critical biography of Virginia Woolf? When it comes to literary criticism of the works of the English writer, the question surrounding Maria DiBattista’s “experiment” is more fittingly: Who’s afraid of the Author, the Critic, the World Writer, the Adventurer and the youthful Sibyl of the Drawing Room? For the subject of Imagining Virginia Woolf is not so much Virginia Woolf — the person who wrote the novels, criticism, letters, and famous diary — but a different being altogether, someone or something DiBattista identifies as "the figment of the author," the literary personality who lives intermittently in the pages of her writings and in the imagination of her readers.

Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy
By George C. Edwards, Martin P. Wattenberg, Robert L. Lineberry

A. Lincoln: A Biography
By Ronald C. White Jr.

About Gordon Hauptfleisch