Bethesda Magazine | November-December 2017

Book Report: Works by Local Authors

We've rounded up new reads, from novels to nonfiction

share this

The Shadow List (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, September 2017) by Todd Moss is the fourth novel in a series featuring Judd Ryker, a state department crisis manager. In this thriller, the Bethesda author sends his main character to Nigeria to look for an American banker who fell for an email scam. Meanwhile, Ryker’s wife goes undercover to hunt a Russian mob boss connected to the scandal. Moss, a former deputy assistant secretary of state who now works at a D.C. think tank, says he draws on his own experiences inside government, taking readers to the White House Situation Room to hear how officials arrive at decisions. “I try to bring some of that realism about how policy is actually made,” he says. “The sausage machine is actually worse than you can imagine.”

The novel Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam (Random House, July 2017) tells the story of a love affair between Rich Fischer, a married artist who teaches cartooning, and Amy O’Donnell, a painter and the wife of a Wall Street billionaire. Away from their families at an annual arts conference, the two share a moment of passion, exchange texts for a year and meet again the next summer. Klam, who lives in American University Park in the District and teaches fiction writing at Johns Hopkins University, says it can be hard to manage marriage, raise children and have artistic ambitions. “A lot of us have those conflicting responsibilities to ourselves, and I wanted to say to readers: I hear you. It’s complicated. And here’s a way that this crazy madman character fumbled through it,” he says.

Lulu Delacre began working on her latest book by clipping newspaper articles about young Latinos from The Washington Post. The Silver Spring children’s author and illustrator put the stories into folders by theme—police confronting illegal immigrants, Central American children moving to Maryland without their parents, diabetes rising in the Latino population. She used the news events as a basis for a collection of coming-of-age short stories, Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos (HarperCollins, August 2017), geared for readers ages 8 to 12. In this, her 38th book (written and/or illustrated), Delacre says she hopes readers get a nuanced view of who Latinos are in the U.S.: “We are not a monolithic group. We bring both texture and richness to the American fabric.”

Royce Hanson chaired the Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, from 1972 to 1981, then moved to Minneapolis and the Dallas area before returning to lead the board again from 2006 to 2010. Those experiences gave him a unique take on what has and hasn’t worked with local development, which he chronicles in Suburb: Planning Politics and the Public Interest (Cornell University Press, June 2017). Hanson, who lives in Montgomery Village and is a research professor at The George Washington Institute of Public Policy, says Montgomery County’s autonomous planning board, which forwards proposals to the county council for decisions, is a model approach that has promoted innovation.