Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism.
Whether he's reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone- tossed skiff with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession and that piece together true and unforgettable mysteries.
Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world's foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be...
Grann (staff writer, The New Yorker; The Lost City of Z) gathers together 12 of his magazine pieces, mainly from The New Yorker. His claim that they share overarching themes is a bit of a stretch. Yes, you can say they all relate to human obsessions to some extent, but the obsessions are so disparate, and with no real underlying theme enunciated by the author up front, that readers may come away puzzled if they wonder about the connections instead of enjoying the pieces separately. They can read about a man who dies under mysterious circumstances while pursuing a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's papers. They can learn about a researcher looking for giant squid, a man executed in Texas who may have been innocent, a bank robber who escaped from jail 19 times—and baseball player Ricky Henderson, who, despite age and diminishing skills, continued to play in the minor leagues well into his forties. VERDICT Grann writes these true stories in the readable fashion of a good journalist. As such, they're highly recommended to readers who enjoy a variety of accessible insights into human nature.—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg