Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Freebie: Tightrope by Simon Mawer, Broken Sleep by Bruce Bauman, Lay Down Your Weary Tune by W. B. Belcher, and The Butcher’s Trail by Julian Borger

Congratulations to Jane Rainey and James Brundage, winners of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Casualties by Elizabeth Marro.

This week, I’m giving away a quartet of recent releases published by Other Press: Tightrope by Simon Mawer, Broken Sleep by Bruce Bauman, Lay Down Your Weary Tune by W. B. Belcher, and The Butcher’s Trail: How the Search for Balkan War Criminals Became the World’s Most Successful Manhunt by Julian Borger. The Butcher’s Trail is a hardcover, the other three are trade paperbacks. Read on for more information about the books...

Tightrope is an historical thriller that brings back Marian Sutro, ex-Special Operations agent, and traces her romantic and political exploits in post-World War II London, where the Cold War is about to reshape old loyalties. As Allied forces close in on Berlin in spring 1945, a solitary figure emerges from the wreckage that is Germany. It is Marian Sutro, whose existence was last known to her British controllers in autumn 1943 in Paris. One of a handful of surviving agents of the Special Operations Executive, she has withstood arrest, interrogation, incarceration, and the horrors of Ravensbrück concentration camp, but at what cost? Returned to an England she barely knows and a postwar world she doesn’t understand, Marian searches for something on which to ground the rest of her life. Family and friends surround her, but she is haunted by her experiences and by the guilt of knowing that her contribution to the war effort helped lead to the monstrosities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the mysterious Major Fawley, the man who hijacked her wartime mission to Paris, emerges from the shadows to draw her into the ambiguities and uncertainties of the Cold War, she sees a way to make amends for the past and at the same time to find the identity that has never been hers. A novel of divided loyalties and mixed motives, Tightrope is the complex and enigmatic story of a woman whose search for personal identity and fulfillment leads her to shocking choices.

Spanning 1940s to 2020s America, Broken Sleep is a Pynchon-esque saga about rock music, art, politics, and the elusive nature of love. Meet everyman Moses Teumer, whose recent diagnosis of an aggressive form of leukemia has sent him in search of a donor. When he discovers that the woman who raised him is not his biological mother, he must hunt down his birth parents and unspool the intertwined destinies of the Teumer and Savant families. Salome Savant, Moses’s birth mother, is an avant-garde artist who has spent her life in and out of a mental health facility. Her son and Moses’s half-brother, Alchemy Savant, the mercurial front man of the world-renowned rock band The Insatiables, abandons music to launch a political campaign to revolutionize 2020s America. And then there’s Ambitious Mindswallow, aka Ricky McFinn, who journeys from juvenile delinquency in Queens to being The Insatiables’ bassist and Alchemy’s Sancho Panza. Author Bruce Bauman skillfully weaves the threads that intertwine these characters and the histories that divide them, creating a postmodern vision of America that is at once sweeping, irreverent, and heartbreaking.

In the novel Lay Down Your Weary Tune, a ghostwriter of the memoirs of a reclusive folk music icon—part Woody Guthrie, part Bob Dylan—attempts to glean fact from fiction, only to discover the deeper he digs into the musician’s past, the more his own past rises to the surface. Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in gossip and half-truths that no one knows who he is behind the act. Jack Wyeth, a budding writer, joins Eli in Galesville, a small town on the border of New York and Vermont, only to learn that the musician’s mind is failing. As he scrambles to uncover the truth, Jack is forced to confront his own past, his own hang-ups, and his own fears. At the same time, he falls for a local artist who has secrets of her own, he becomes linked to a town controversy, and he struggles to let go of his childhood idols and bridge the divide between myth and reality. Set against a folk Americana aesthetic, Lay Down Your Weary Tune is an emotionally charged exploration of myth-making, desire, and regret, and the inescapable bond between the past and present.

Written with a thrilling narrative pull, The Butcher’s Trail chronicles the pursuit and capture of the Balkan war criminals indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Borger recounts how Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were finally tracked down, and describes the intrigue behind the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav president who became the first head of state to stand before an international tribunal for crimes perpetrated in a time of war. Based on interviews with former special forces soldiers, intelligence officials, and investigators from a dozen countries—most speaking about their involvement for the first time—this book reconstructs a fourteen-year manhunt carried out almost entirely in secret. Indicting the worst war criminals that Europe had known since the Nazi era, the ICTY ultimately accounted for all 161 suspects on its wanted list, a feat never before achieved in political and military history.

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

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 18, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 19.  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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