#88: Phantom, by Jo Nesbø. Knopf. $25.95.
This is book #9 in Jo Nesbø's dark and violent series featuring the unfortunately named Harry Hole. These books - thrilling and explosive, with a hero who's equal part cop, addict, and lost cause - are part of the terrific wave of fiction now coming out of Scandinavia.
Nesbø's stories are bleak - and this is the bleakest and the best of the lot. It's difficult to see how Nesbø will continue the series after saying, in Phantom, all that might have been needed to say.
#87: Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism's Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist, by Thomas Peele. Crown. $26.
When Chauncey Bailey was gunned down on the morning of August 2nd, 2007, he was the first journalist in the United States to have been killed over a story since 1976, when Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic was killed by a car bomb.
Bailey's crime? He had the audacity to try and report on the financial problems of Your Black Muslim Bakery - an Oakland, California, institution that was led, until his death, by the thug Yusuf Bey. Your Black Muslim Bakery was then run by his son, the bigger thug Yusuf Bey IV, the man who would order the assassination of Mr. Bailey.
Killing the Messenger is chilling in its accounts of how the Oakland establishment - from the police, to Oakland's mayors, and even to Congressperson Barbara Lee - disregarded the whispers that there was something horribly wrong with Your Black Muslim Bakery. Torture? Check. Rape? Check. Murder? Check.
Political correctness in this case led to the shotgun killing of a reporter on his way to work. Read Killing the Messenger for a brilliantly rendered account of a city gone deaf and blind.