Robert's Picks

What’s your favorite memory? My favorite memory so far has to be the honeymoon vacation I spent with my wife in New Orleans.

Using only one word, describe yourself. Awesome

Author you love to hate: Tom Clancy. His stories are good, but the man needs an editor like the Sahara needs rain.

If you had a super power, what would it be? I would actually rather be a billionaire with my own underground cave full of high tech equipment and a rocket powered car. Only the greatest superheros have those. 

Favorite pair of shoes (past or present): I once owned a pair of Vietnam-era military surplus combat boots. Hands down the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn.

What do you think your job is at Left Bank Books? Ultimately, I believe my job at Left Bank Books is to share my passion of reading with everyone who comes in the door. I want to make sure no one leaves empty-handed, it's an arm load of books I recommended to them or just a list of books I suggested they try. I want to able to turn "Oh, I'm just browsing" into "I definitely want to try the selections you gave me."

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Seven for a Secret Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780399158384
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Amy Einhorn Books - September 17th, 2013

 Lyndsay Faye's follow to her 2012 novel "Gods of Gotham" isn't just a first class mystery. It is a dark yet brilliant study of a rarely spoken of era in American history- a time when morality, justice, and equality were a murky subject, and when "what was proper" and "what was right" weren't always the same thing. For fans of Laurie R. King, Gillian Flynn, and anyone looking for more than just  another run of the mill whodunnit. -Robert's Holiday Staff Pick 2013 


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Who I Am: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062127259
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - August 6th, 2013

In the free-wheeling post-war days of 1962, Peter Townsend was a bored graphic design student and amateur guitarist in art college looking for an outlet to his frustration. With his  school friend John Entwistle, they joined a band called The Detours fronted by a young ne'er -do- well named Roger Daltrey. Initially, Townsend didn't take it seriously ... but as he wrote more and more songs for them, their fame and sound grew. As they rocketed up the song charts, they changed their name and established themselves as one of the greatest bands ever to come out of The British Invasion- The Who.Now, at the age of 67, The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer presents an a no holds barred  look into the frenetic life of a rock star. He guides the reader through his lonely and traumatic childhood, along the path of self-destruction that made up his teenage years, his frequent and often violent battles with alchohol and substance abuse as an adult, and explains how an research project built on the best of intentions instead embroiled him in a 2003 tabloid scandal that nearly cost him everything. Along the way, he regales you with tales of life on the road with The Who, struggles to find his own voice and identity as a solo artist, as well as lifelong friendships and rivalries with with such contemporaries as Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Elton John, and George Harrison. Some stories are outright hilarious, others are deeply poignant....and some are both, such as his anecdotes about the outrageous (and, ultimately, doomed) Keith Moon.As eloquent as it is raw, Townsend's memoir is a powerful testament about the fleeting glories and lasting tribulations of fortune and fame, as well as a cautionary tale about getting what you wish for. A definite must read for all rock 'n roll fans, young and old. -- Robert


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Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781416576204
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Free Press - February 21st, 2012

While General William Donovan may not be quite the household name he used to be, he is nonetheless a key figure in the evolution of the American intelligence network. A man of ambition, he won the Medal of Honor, a Distinguished Service, and two Purple Hearts in the tranches of World War I and spent the interwar years moving swiftly through the bureaucratic ranks. When the Third Reich came to power and the war clouds loomed once more, Donovan determined that the best way to defeat Hitler was to be able to out think him. With the hard won approval of Franklin Roosevelt, Donovan created the Office of Strategic Service... which would one day give rise to the Central Intelligence Agency. Author Douglas Waller delivers an uncompromising and often conflicted portrait of "Wild Bill" Donovan: From his unimpeachable code of honor to his scandalous extramarital affairs, from his ability to bring the various military intelligence agencies under his wing to his bitter and often destructive feuds with F.B.I Director J. Edgar Hoover. Waller's narrative isn't the same old boring recitation of facts and figures too many historians fall victim to, but rather a thrilling and often chilling espionage tale fit for fans of John LeCarre', Alistair MacLean, or Ben Macintyre.  An especially enlightening biography in today's uncertain times.


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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781250028655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - March 26th, 2013

Therese Anne Fowler's debut novel is a beautifully rendered portrayal of the woman who would become Zelda Fitzgerald. Set against the glitz and glamour of the decadent Jazz Age, the story follows young Zelda Sayre's constant attempts to flaunt the strict and conservative social structure of 1918 Alabama. It is during this time that she meets a young Army lieutenant named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, who splits his time between courting Zelda and struggling to get his first novel published. The novel is told from Zelda's point of view (whose smooth relaxed narrative recalls the elder Jeanne Lousie "Scout" Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird) and follows her along the course of her ultimately doomed marriage to Fitzgerald, fighting against the burgeoning morals of society, the rise and fall of her husband's career, and her own tumultuous demons. Sometime humorous, sometimes tragic, this poignant portrait of Zelda serves as both cautionary tale of love and recklessness, as well as the recollection of a time when hopes were high and life was celebrated. Definitely suggested for fans of Fitzgerald, but also an excellent choice for a nice rainy day book. -- Robert


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When She Woke Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781565126299
Availability: Special Order
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - October 1st, 2011

Set in a not-too-distant future, an intense evangelical movement sweeps across the country, abolishing Roe V. Wade, outlawing abortion and contraceptives, and eradicating the concept of "Separation of Church and State" virtually overnight. Among the movement's sweeping reforms is the refusal to imprison criminals anymore, but rather genetically alter their pigmintation -"Chroming"- to match the prescribed color of their crime, and then release them back into the world to be shunned or even hunted by the "morally righteous" members of society. Into this nightmarish scenario comes Hannah Payne, newly convicted of aborting her unborn child and refusing to name the father. She is chromed Red (the color of murder) and cast back into society to survive and defend herself against a once loving family who has ostracized her, friends who now shun her, and a world grown virulently hostile to her and "her kind." She has lost everything she once held dear, everyone she has ever loved...and yet, on this journey of reflection and discovery, may yet find the one thing which will keep her alive and sane- herself.It would be easy to call this book "a cross between 'The Scarlet Letter' and '1984'", but there is so much more to it than that. It one part dystopian thriller, one part tragic tragedy, one part voyage of self discovery. But most of all, it is a cautionary tale about the consequences of giving up personal freedom in the name of safety and morality and how easy a path to Hell good intentions make.


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The Complaints Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780316078764
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Reagan Arthur Books - November 2nd, 2011

From the author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Rebus Series, comes a new character to combat the dark gritty underbelly of mordern-day Scotland. Malcolm Fox is quiet, studious, and a stickler for the rules. This last quality is especially important, as Fox is the top investigator for Edinburgh's much-reviled Professional Standards Unit- also known as "The Complaints." Fox is a cop who investigates other cops for corruption and wrongdoing...not a popular position in the Scottish Police Force. So, when he finds himself under investigation for the murder of his sister's abusive boyfriend, Malcolm suddenly finds himself without friends or leads...and quickly running out of time to expose the real killer and the conspiracy to frame Fox.


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The Language of Flowers Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780345525550
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - April 3rd, 2012

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel is canvass of humor, heartache and redemption. After spending her childhood being shuffled from one orphanage to another,18 year old Victoria Jones has finally aged out of the foster care system. A troubled youth with a deep-seeded cynicism about the world, Victoria has only her wits and her mastery of the Victorian-Age "language of flowers" to guide her into adulthood. She catches the eye of a local florist and soon comes into her own as a flower girl, helping people better their lives with her unique gift. Just as she begins to become comfortable with herself and her world, a mysterious stranger from Victoria's past comes back into her life and brings with him a dark secret which she must confront in order to unlock the true potential inside of her. As we follow Victoria on her journey, we flash back to her childhood and the foster mother who gave Victoria her special gift. Hard truths are faced and deep memories are resurrected as Victoria struggles to face the girl she once was in order to become the woman she so desperately wishes to be.


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West with the Night Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780865471184
Availability: Out of Print
Published: North Point Press - January 22nd, 2013

One of the single greatest autobiographies I've ever read, second only to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." The life of famed aviatrix Beryl Markham reads like a character out of the pages of Ruyard Kipling or J. Ryder Haggard, yet her name is almost lost to history. We follow Beryl on her whirlwind journey, from her childhood in Africa to her career as a breeder of championship racehorses. We see her discover a passion for flight as she works as a bush pilot, delivering mail and supplies to remote African villages- a career that would eventually lead her to become the fist person to fly east to west across the Atlantic and, subsequently, a household name in the pioneer days of aviation. Along the way, she makes friends with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Isak Dinesen (In Dinesen's bestselling novel, "Out of Africa," the character of Felicity is based on Markham.) Brash, beautiful and fearless, this is the story of a woman who thumbed her nose at the so-called "protocols and conventional thinking" of a male-dominated Early 20th Century...and became a legend in her own time.


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Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780425259986
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ace Books - June 26th, 2012

With "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" establishing as a bestselling author, Douglas Adams was already a household name when he was approached to pen a set of scripts for "Doctor Who." He produced three - "the Pirate Planet," the critically-acclaimed "City of Death," and the script on which this book is based. Originally penned for 4th Doctor Tom Baker, it was partially taped but never aired. A few years later, an attempt was made to turn the script into a radio show for the 8th Doctor Paul McGann, but nothing came of it. Finally, the script came full circle when it was turned over to Gareth Roberts, writer of such new Doctor Who episodes as "The Shakespeare Code," "The Lodger," and "Closing Time." Perfect for the devout Whovien in your family.


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Faceless Killers Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781400031573
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - January 7th, 2003

Kurt Wallander is a man at the edge of his sanity. Burned out, divorced from his wife and estranged from his daughter, the middle-aged police inspector has only his indefatigable sense of justice to propel him through the mire of death and tragedy. His latest case thrusts him into the heart of the cold, desolate Swedish wilderness. There, he will be confronted with high running racial tensions, a community keeping deathly quiet, and shockingly grisly murder with only a solitary clue to cling to. The first book in Henning Mankell's acclaimed series, Faceless Killers is highly recommended for fans of Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin and Neil Cross (creator of the BBC's hit show Luther).


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Theft of Swords Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780316187749
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - November 23rd, 2011

Fantasy, political intrigue, magic and adventure collide in this, the first book of "The Riyria Revelations" Trilogy. Hadrian Blackwater -a gifted swordsman with a conscience, and Royce Melborn -a talented thief with a hidden past- are mecenaries for hire, willing to take on the most dangerous assignments for clients ranging from pauper to prince....for the right price. When they are contracted for the seemingly easy task of stealing a famous sword, they suddenly find themselves at the heart of a dark conspiracy where murder, treachery, and a possible coup d'etat within the kingdom are the least of their worries.Originally self-published as an ebook in 2011, Sullivan's books have gone on to massive acclaim, selling thousands of copies all over the world and being translated into six different languages. This comes a little surprise to me, considering the excellent blend of humor and suspense that comes with each page. The characters are well sketched out and the story is reminicent of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," while capturing the political maneuvering of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. I would definitely recommend this series to fans of Terry Goodkind and George R.R. Martin, or anyone just looking for a grand adventure off the beaten path.


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Charles Dickens: A Life Cover Image
$36.00
ISBN: 9781594203091
Availability: Special Order
Published: Penguin Press HC, The - October 27th, 2011

An exciting, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, look into the life and mind of one of the greatest writers of the all time. an excellent read - the subject is just as breathtaking as his work.


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The Seven-Per-Cent Solution: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780393311198
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 1st, 1993

His mind and body broken with years of drug abuse, Sherlock Holmes is on the brink of madness and his most trusted friend, Dr. John Watson, is helpless to aid him. With nothing to lose and Holmes perilously close to death, Watson and Holmes' brother Mycroft must convince Holmes to travel to Vienna and seek out the one man who may hold the key to The Great Detective's salvation: Sigmund Freud. What follows is a journey to the highest peaks of human endurance.....and the darkest fathoms of imagination.
This is without a doubt one of my favorite non-canonical Sherlock Holmes stories, and one of the only stories that truly dares to explore The Great Detective's psyche. I had always wondered why nobody up to that point had ever explored Holmes' cocaine usage. Even Conan Doyle mentioned it once, maybe twice, mostly passing it off as yet another of the sleuth's quirks. This has always perplexed me because...well, why mention it at all? Wouldn't that kind drug use, have had an adverse effect on his career? This was the first of three Holmes novels that Nicholas Meyer would write, but such is the breadth and scope this clever yet deeply personal story that it would lead him to write and direct a film version of the book- along with two of the greatest "Star Trek" movies of all time: "The Wrath of Khan" and "The Undiscovered Country." A must read for both devoted Sherlockians and those who have discovered the hit PBS show and want more.


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The Autobiography of Malcolm X Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780345350688
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - October 12th, 1987

Let me begin by saying this....I have read books which have amused me. I have read books which astounded me. I have even read books which horrified me. But never before have I read a book which hit me- not just touched, but HIT- the way "Malcolm X" did. Never before has a biography come into my life and, from the first page to the last, leave me feeling enlightened, enraged, appalled and awakened all at the same time. As you travel with Malcolm through his life, from his poverty stricken childhood to his adolescent life of crime, through his time in prison to becoming one of the foremost champions African American rights of his generation, you will be both amazed and deeply troubled. As controversial as he was brilliant, Malcolm X firmly articulated the struggle of the African American against the teeming racist underbelly of American society in "the long, hot summer" of the 1960's, lashing out againt "social norms" and "acceptable compromise" in order to secure true equality. Tragically, Malcolm X was gunned down before he could complete his quest, and all we have left of him is his memory and this book of his life and thoughts and feeling to serve as a message for generations to come. I know, no matter how long or fluently I write, that I could never come close to giving "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" the credit it deserves, nor could I ever truly verbalize the deep impact it had on me. But I will say this: If you care about equality in society, equality in life...if you care about the equal rights of ALL Americans, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or religion...if you care about your children and your children's children growing up in a world where words like "racism" and "bigotry" are things of the past....then you should read this book. And if you don't care about any of those things, then you MUST read this book.


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Seven for a Secret Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780399158384
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Amy Einhorn Books - September 17th, 2013

In 1845, the act of
slave collaring, whereby Southern Agents would travel into the North to capture
runaways slaves, was not only an acceptable practice but also a legal one. And
if free Northern African-Americans got caught up in the fray and were
"accidentally" sold into slavery, it was regarded at unfortunately,
but little was done to correct the mistake. Into this fight for equal rights
enters Timothy Wilde, the best and brightest the newly founded NYPD has to
offer. Wilde is already in a deep moral quandary about choosing to do his duty
or choosing to do what's right when he approached by a young woman who claims
her family has been abducted by slave hunters. As bodies begin piling up and an
attempt is made to disgrace his already ne'er do well brother, Valentine,
Timothy must descend into a dark twisted world of politics and corrupt souls-
where treachery and death go hand in hand and no one is ever truly clean.
Lyndsay Faye's follow to her 2012 novel "Gods of Gotham" isn't just a
first class mystery. It is a dark yet brilliant study of a rarely spoken of era
in American history- a time when morality, justice, and equality were a murky
subject, and when "what was proper" and "what was right"
weren't always the same thing. For fans of Laurie R. King, Gillian Flynn, and
anyone looking for more than just  another run of the mill whodunnit.