Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Freebie: The Bully of Order by Brian Hart and The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker

Congratulations to Elaine Panneton, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil, Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel, and The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith.

This week's book giveaway is a pair of novels sure to appeal to lovers of riveting historical fiction.  Up for grabs: The Bully of Order by Brian Hart and The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker.  The Bully of Order is a hardcover, The Big Crowd is a brand-new trade paperback.  Read on for more information about each of the books....

Set in Washington Territory in 1886, The Bully of Order is about Jacob and Nell Ellstrom who step from ship to shore and are struck dumb by the sight of their new home--the Harbor, a ragged township of mud streets and windowless shacks.  In the years to come this will be known as one of the busiest and most dangerous ports in the world, and with Jacob's station as the only town physician, prosperity and respect soon rain down on the Ellstroms.  Then their son, Duncan, is born, and these are grand days, busy and full of growth.  But when a new physician arrives, Jacob is revealed as an impostor, a fraud, and he flees, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.  Years later, on a fated Fourth of July picnic, Duncan Ellstrom falls in love.  Her name is Teresa Boyerton, and her father owns the largest sawmill in the Harbor.  Their relationship is forbidden by class and by circumstance, because without Jacob there to guide him, Duncan has gone to work for Hank Bellhouse, the local crime boss.  Now, if Duncan wants to be with Teresa, he must face not only his past, but the realities of a dark and violent world and his place within it.  Told from various points of view, Brian Hart's novel follows the evolution of the Harbor from a mudstamp outpost to a city that rivals the promise of San Francisco.  The Bully of Order is a meditation on progress, love, and identity; a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption--told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope--where everyone is as much at the mercy of the weather as they are of the times.  “An epic novel of violence, depravity, and mayhem…Brian Hart writes like Cormac McCarthy in overdrive.  What talent, what nerve, what a wondrous and spellbinding book.  The Bully of Order is part creation myth, part apocalyptic thriller, and it’s peopled with charlatans, swindlers, and murderers who will haunt your dreams.”  (John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote)

In The Big Crowd, Kevin Baker (Paradise Alley) gives us a portrait of New York City politics and organized crime in the 1940s.  Tom O'Kane has always looked up to his brother, Charlie, latching onto him as a surrogate father as soon as he arrived in America from County Mayo.  Charlie is the American Dream personified: an immigrant who worked his way up from beat cop to mayor of New York.  But what if Charlie isn't as wonderful as he seems?  Based on one of the biggest unsolved mob murders in history, the heart of The Big Crowd is a mystery.  More than a decade after Tom arrives in New York, he is forced to confront the truth about Charlie while investigating the mysterious "suicide" of "Kid Twist," Charlie's star witness against the largest crime syndicate in New York.  As Tom digs deeper, the secrets he uncovers throw everything he thinks he knows about his beloved brother into question.  In The Big Crowd, Kevin Baker brings the 1940s to indelible life, from the beaches of Acapulco to the battlefields of World War II, from Gracie Mansion to the Brooklyn docks.  Booklist said, "Baker takes another juicy bite out of the Big Apple, demonstrating once again that nobody does old New York—in all its glamour and its grit—better."

If you’d like a chance at winning both books, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Sept. 4, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Sept. 5.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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