Jean-Paul's Picks

Check out these picks from our resident history and thriller reader, Jean Paul. If you like the books he has recommended, or want to see more, check out his profile on the popular book-reviewing site, Goodreads. He also posts regularly on the blog, 125 Water Street.

A Well-Tempered Heart Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590516409
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press (NY) - January 21st, 2014

Wow! He still has that good pen :-). This sequel to "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" has it all.

Jan-Philip Sendker brings us again a heartbreaking story about a distressed motherhood, decisions about life and dead, solitude, the cruelty of war, and the ultimate power of family, love, and forgiveness.

The story is harsh, distressing, and heartbreaking, but keep reading this spirited book. In spite of all that, it is a beautiful, well written, touching story that will stick for a long time.

The Purity of Vengeance Cover Image
By Jussi Adler-Olsen, Martin Aitken (Translator)
ISBN: 9780525954019
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Dutton Books - December 31st, 2013

Warning!! Before starting to read make sure you have enough time off, send your wife and kids on a nice long weekend, disconnect the phone and internet, put enough food and drinks next to your favorite reading chair. Once started, you're doomed to finish.

Department Q gets into high gears. An investigation of a succession of disappearances in the 80's leads to a link with a rising political party (with a secret racist agenda) and a dark part of Denmark's history. 

Carl Mork, Rose, and Assad, have to fight demons from their past and that makes them really angry. Best Dept Q book so far!!!!

The Paris Architect Cover Image
ISBN: 9781402284311
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark - October 1st, 2013

This is a book you won't have to reread because you'll remember it for a very long time.

Lucien Bernard, an unemployed architect during the German occupation of Paris, gets a big financial offer if he can create the perfect hiding spot for a Jewish fugitive. Although he is not particularly fond of Jews, he accepts the order. His employer brings him in contact with the German HQ and very soon Lucien is a rising star among the Paris architects by planning German war factories.  But everything has its price ....

Charles Belfoure hits the right spot by describing the suffering of the Parisians, their hunt for food, their constant fears, resistance and collaboration, the unimaginable cruelty of the Gestapo and the indescribable faith of the Jewish population, hunted by the Germans and betrayed by fellow French citizens.

Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534574
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday Books - October 22nd, 2013

Finally a book that shows how a relatively unimportant medieval settlement, pulled out of the mud and the sea, came suddenly to be one of the most important, powerful cities in the world.

In their struggle against the water, "Amsterdammers" had to work together and with every hand needed they had to be understanding and tolerant of each other. That openness of mind made and makes Amsterdam (although very liberal),  a very influential and progressive city.

Great history with a powerful message.

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451654660
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 5th, 2013

This is not only the story of Red Cloud, the only Native American Sioux leader who could beat the American Army, but also a story of a clash of cultures, completely alien to each other.

Just at the time when the USA is recovering from the Civil War, and the reorganized Army is weaker than ever, a big move westward starts. Under the banner of "Manifest Destiny" (a nice euphemism for stealing lands through unbridled greed and unspeakable arrogance), gold diggers, farmers, ranchers, and all kinds of fortune seekers rush to the West and force the Indian tribes more and more out of their home lands. Over and over, peace treaties and promises are broken by the USA.

Red Cloud, a daring fighter, but also a smart politician and military strategist, rises to power, brings several tribes together, and stands up to save his High Plains.

Great story, smashing history!!!!!

Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385495578
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Nan A. Talese - October 29th, 2013

Cahill brings us a masterful account of how the Renaissance came to be and how it changed the world forever. 

Read how artists, scientists, and theologians, rediscovered Greek culture and science and discreetly put their doubts and accusations about the Church in their works. And they could spread their ideas thanks to Gutenberg. His adapted wine press caused a knowledge boom like the internet does today.

Read about the new Humanist thinking, the origins of new Christian religions, the Inquisition and the Reformation, and the escape of the persecuted to the New World.

Captivating, interesting, a complicated era depicted in human language. History as it should be written.

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670025442
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - April 30th, 2013

What a masterful account! Philbrick gives us a very detailed and honest account of what really happened before, during, and after the Battle of Bunker Hill. He brings this story without the usual patriotic brouhaha but he shows all the participants as human beings, sometimes heroic and glorious, sometimes greedy and petty. Witness how some discontent evolves in a full revolution; witness how George Washington grew to be the General as we know him; witness the dilemma for rebels, loyalists, and British officers alike in those civil-war-like circumstances. History on his best!

Nos4a2 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062200570
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow & Company - April 30th, 2013

If you have the right tools you can travel imaginary roads and read the future, but you will pay a price ... physical and mental ...

And that's what will happen when you dare to read this book! Your senses will be stretched to the limit, you will not sleep, and you will not go to work because you will have to finish this novel.

Congrats Joe Hill. Christmas will never be the same and your book will stand forever on my top shelf.

The Dinner Cover Image
By Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (Translator)
ISBN: 9780770437855
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Hogarth - February 12th, 2013

Paul, his brother Serge, and their wives Claire and Barbara, are gathered in an upper class restaurant to discuss a serious problem concerning their children.

During the several courses of the dinner, Paul, the narrator, a misanthropic "non-active" teacher,  reflects on his family, his work, the trivial things in a restaurant, and slowly reveals a horrific crime committed by their boys. Which parents do know about the crime, what do they know, and what are their intentions?

While the story goes on, and while you get to know the characters, you see how their "bourgeois facade" gradually crumbles down to raw human behavior.

This is a fascinating story, sometimes very funny, sometimes sad, that slowly evolves from a lighthearted, if not trivial, start to a deep dark thriller with a mind blowing ending.

What would you do? How far would you go to protect your children? How much responsibility do parents bear to actions of a child?

A five star book and a great read for book clubs.

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805062908
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt & Company - May 14th, 2013

This is probably the most complete account of how the Allied forces liberated France and the Northern countries in Western Europe.

Starting at D Day we follow the American, British, and French armies mile by mile, day by day in their rush to the Saar, Ruhr, and the Elbe.

A well investigated story with plenty of maps that tells about the victories, courage, heroism,  but does not forget to mention the mistakes, the miscalculations, the pettiness and egoism of some generals.

Great read for military and history buffs.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062133434
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - April 23rd, 2013

This non-fiction story is more riveting, captivating, and exciting than any fiction author can write.

In search of a lost cargo plane on the ice cap of Greenland, a B17 crashes with 9 people aboard. In a second rescue mission a Grumman Duck (an amphibious plane) disappears in the milky sky of Greenland.

Zuckoff gives us a harrowing and nail biting WW II story of hope, despair, perseverance, heroism, and survival and a contemporary account of how some volunteers are trying to recover the Grumman Duck and to bring home the remains of it's crew.

You'd better get Lost in Shangri La then Frozen in Time (in Greenland.)

Great 5 star book.

A Conspiracy of Faith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525954002
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Dutton Books - May 28th, 2013

What a great combination of action, suspense, and humor. Jussi Adler-Olsen is a master in the art of writing police novels. This book is even better than <i> The Keeper of Lost Causes </i>.

An old message in a bottle puts Department Q in full swing. While Carl Morck has to deal with personal issues (ex-wife, friends, and his dream woman Mona), his work at the office gets "kind-a-complicated."  Assad and a new assistant are overly eager to solve the case and health-inspectors are threatening to close his downstairs offices.

Start reading on a Friday evening, you can't put this one down! 

The German Suitcase Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781624670268
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Premier Digital Publishing - November 14th, 2012


The finding of an old, discarded, but classy suitcase, once belonging to a Holocaust survivor, is the start of a thrilling, captivating, and harrowing novel. The story hops up and down between the last days of the Third Reich and nowadays New York.

How can you keep up your dignity and valor when, by doing so,  the lives of your family and friends are endangered? 

How can you keep your integrity when your job can only be saved by bringing down a family's good name?

Great novel! The good, the bad, and the ugly, they all will stick with you for a long time.


Ghostman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307959966
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - February 12th, 2013

Jack, a cunning super brain, made it to the top of gangsterism. Extremely wealthy, equipped with the most modern  IT tools, constantly changing addresses and even his physical appearance, he is like a living ghost. Only a happy few know how to contact him. An old partner in crime, to whom he is in debt, calls on him to clean up the mess from a seemingly well organized heist that went completely wrong. Not trusting his former partner, hunted by an extremely dangerous mobster, and chased by the FBI, he needs all his tricks to keep his ghost like existence.

Marvelous, smart, and captivating from the beginning to the end. What a start fo

Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345526977
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Bantam - May 21st, 2013

Starting in Marathon (490 BC) and ending with Operation Peach (Iraq 2003), the authors bring up 20 battles that changed the future of our world. 

Every battle is analyzed in detail: the historical background, why, where, and how it was fought, the strategies and tactics, and its immediate or future impact on the world.

Very interesting book.

The Burn Palace Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399160875
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Blue Rider Press - February 7th, 2013

If you love a good old dark mystery, you have to get this book. The disappearance of a baby, replaced by a snake, is the first of several events that will shake a typical New England town to its core and will wrap it in a cocoon of fear. Hard working detectives have to connect the dots between a yoga center, a horny nurse, Wicca's, funeral homes, and coyotes.
Great mystery; hard to put down ... unless you get too scared.

Insane City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399158681
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Putnam Adult - January 29th, 2013

Seth is going to marry Tina, a woman far out of his league. While she is preparing the wedding of the century (if not of the millennium) he is coming her way with his best man and his groom posse (who only think of drinking and other kinds of addicting stuff). Things can go wrong and will go wrong. Good old Murphy's law to the tenth degree.
You don't have to be insane to read this book. Just be ready for a lot of absurd, nonsensical fun. For laughing out loud.

Stung Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802734181
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Walker & Company - April 2nd, 2013

What a story. It makes you forget The Hunger Games. Action from the first till the last page. A Super Young Adult book. 

A young girl wakes up in a dilapidated house, her hand marked with an insect-like tattoo. The world has changed for the bad and she is on the wrong side of the wall ...

Ten White Geese Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143122678
Availability: Special Order-- Order and we will let you know if it is available ASAP.
Published: Penguin Books - February 26th, 2013

After an affair with a student, a woman leaves her husband and her job. 

Being an Emily Dickinson scholar, she escapes to small cottage in rural Wales where she finds the embodiment of her favorite poet in the loneliness and the solitude of the landscape. Is she just escaping or is there something she is waiting for?

Bakker is a master in creating an ambiance while he leaves you with a lot of questions. Beautiful descriptions, mysterious and intriguing.

Now I do want to travel to Wales and read Emily Dickinson.

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455512423
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - March 5th, 2013

I've never read a biography that seems to be so honest. The Westboro Baptist Church is very well known for their hatred towards gay people and for picketing on military funerals. Lauren Drain, who joined the Church as a young teenager, describes how she got completely convinced of the Church's mission and how hard she worked to become a full member in the eyes of the Church members and her parents. She also explains the inner working of this family driven religion. The combination of her asking too many challenging Bible questions and her (rather innocent) interest in boys, caused her to be banished from the Church and from her family.
The story of her stay in the world of the zealots and the righteous will stick with me for a long time.
Fascinating, honest, and moving.