The latest from John Sandford, a trailblazer at the U, and more

Letty comes to life, something’s in the basement, college freshmen tell stories and a look at one of the first black athletes from the University of Minnesota are all featured this week just for you.

“Dark Angel”: by John Sandford (Putnam, $29.99)

“Attagirl,” said Cartwright, pointing at the waiter. “Nothing quite as exciting as getting your butt drunk while angry and in possession of a dangerous weapon. That’s what the Second Amendment says, I believe.”

“I’m not that angry,” Letty said.

‘Yes you are. They have been since birth. All us ladies are angry.’ ” — From “Dark Angel”

The “Ladies” are members of the Washington Ladies Peace-Maker Society, which is not a group of tea-drinking celebrities. It’s a secret group of women in Washington, most of whom work for government agencies, who meet monthly to test their shooting skills and talk about their favorite guns. Some of them are probably sociopaths.

It’s the kind of organization that welcomes Letty Davenport, daughter of Prey series hero Lucas Davenport. She made her debut in last year’s The Investigator, in which she killed two men on a bridge in Pershing, Texas.

Letty, who grew up on the Prey series, didn’t really come into focus as a character in The Investigator. In “Dark Angel” Sandford found his groove with her. This book has all the Sandford hallmarks – guns, operations carried out by a government agency unbeknownst to others, breathtaking final chapters and a twisted plot set against the backdrop of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Because of Letty’s actions in Texas, she is assigned to guard Baxter, an overweight, very smart, and terrified NSA computer scientist. You must travel from Washington to California to find a mysterious hacking group called the Ordinary People who appear to be plotting to destroy a northern city’s gas supply. The partners go undercover as the computer guy and his girlfriend who are scammers.

It turns out they were right when they thought information was being withheld from them. (No spoilers.) The gas destruction was a lie; The real threat is international. Some of the common folk had managed to infiltrate the controls of the Russian train system, causing chaos. The war in Ukraine starts and the hackers suddenly become the good guys because the US government wants them to shut down the trains again, this time to stop the Russian invasion.

There’s plenty of action in Dark Angel as Letty gathers the Ordinary People crew and tries to protect them from a ruthless Russian. She is assisted by John Kaiser, a Department of Homeland Security investigator who was her partner in the previous book, and several of the Washington Club ladies who are as deadly with guns as Letty and are not afraid to use them.

With the introduction of the Peace-Maker Ladies, Sandford invented a creepy group of women who talk more about their guns, including the .45 Colt known as the Peace-Maker, than men.

Letty’s personality becomes clearer in this book. She’s tough, but not superwoman, and she’s funny at times. The deadpan, humorous dialogue that runs through the Prey books is also found in Dark Angel, but it’s between women. The entire book is based on women, with the exception of Baxter and Kaiser. Even Letty’s high-level contact in Washington is a woman who makes things happen when her people need help on the ground. Sometimes she has to admonish Letty: “Don’t destroy buildings.”

Sandford is back on top form, creating situations where well-trained women can scare – or shoot – a guy.

“Morlocks in the Cellar”: by Carolyn Colburn (Running Wild Press, $19.99)

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a horror story. It’s a funny/sad memoir about raising a troubled child by a writer who divides her time between a century-old house in Duluth and a cabin on Lake Superior near the Canadian border.

There are everyday thoughts of how the author wanted to fire her housekeeper but was too scared of the woman to do it, and the joys and agonies of teaching preschoolers who love to make lots of noise and find everything funny. She admits her cat hates NPR

But interwoven into the non-linear narrative is the story of her daughter’s struggles to escape; Drugs, court dates, late-night calls. It’s about how hard it is to let go as a parent and how much the girl is loved.

“First semester orientation”: Edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith (Candlewick Press, $25.99)

Two Minnesota writers are among 16 whose stories are set at the fictional Rolland College “eight hours north of the Carolinas” in this entertaining anthology for college-preparing teens.

“We always thought the first few days of college should feel a little bit magical,” the editors write. “Maybe a little creepy. Maybe a little romantic. And as you’ll see in these stories, this old little college has a little bit of everything all over campus.”

“They Call Me Bull,” by St. Paul author Bryan Bliss, is about one of the stars of the football team, a scholarship student who is there for education, not football. He doesn’t want to follow the team’s stupid traditional bonding rules, like wearing the team’s t-shirts to social events. He is bullied by the team captain who is an idiot but his friend keeps telling him to just shut up and join in because the bully will graduate and next year the team will be theirs.

Bull kinda goes along with it until he meets a woman who’s reading at a party and hates football players and their big-man-on-campus attitude. She questions Bull’s decision to stay on the team and sets out on a journey toward a future where he can live off being a star collegiate football player for the rest of his life. He has to decide if he wants more.

Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona, but she’s a former graduate creative writing program coordinator at the University of Minnesota, so we’re making her an honorary Minnesotan. In Mighty, she tells a compelling story about a former movie star who has had a breakdown, spent time in a convalescent home and wants to attend a small college where she can shed her fame. Of course that doesn’t happen. Students follow her around begging for pics of her famous breasts. When she meets a guy who doesn’t care about her fame, she recalls the lessons she learned from an older actress about what’s real and what’s not.

This anthology should be read this summer by every young person who is excited and anxious about this new adventure called college.

“Breaking Through the Line: Bobby Marshall: The NFL’s First African-American Player”: by Terry McConnell, Foreword by Mark Coyle, University of Minnesota Athletics Director (Nodin Press, $19.95)

Sometimes referred to as Minnesota’s first black superstar, Bobby Marshall was largely forgotten by the media in the mid-20th century. Sports fans and U alums will appreciate this in-depth exploration of his life, sporting talents and highlights of some of his games.

Born in 1880 to a slave’s grandson, Marshall graduated from Minneapolis Central High and entered the University of Minnesota in 1903. He had no scholarships and worked to earn a living. It was not an easy time; Marshall and his best friend Sig Harris weren’t allowed to live in the dorms because Marshall was black and Harris was Jewish.

In addition to soccer, Marshall played baseball, track and field, and excelled in hockey before the Gophers fielded a collegiate team.

Marshall earned a law degree from university and spent some time working in children’s sports during the 1930s. He died in 1958 and was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame in 1991.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *