Weekend picks for book lovers: Sarah Schmidt takes on Lizzie Borden

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include a new novel about Lizzie Borden, the infamous accused 19th-century murderess.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt; Atlantic Monthly Press, 328 pp.; fiction

More than 100 years before the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the case of Lizzie Borden fascinated the public, generating a famous folk rhyme and a stream of songs and stories and speculation that endures to this day. Christina Ricci gave a chilling portrayal in the wacky Lifetime 2015 series, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.

Now Australian author Sarah Schmidt continues the tradition with her debut novel See What I Have Done, a taut, lyrical account of the destruction of the Borden family, both through ax murder and subtler means.

The book opens in Lizzie’s point of view, shortly after the brutal murders of her father and stepmother Andrew and Abby Borden on the morning of Aug. 4, 1892 in Fall River, Mass: “He was still bleeding. I yelled, ‘Someone’s killed Father.’ I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked.”

Lizzie sends the housekeeper, Bridget, to fetch the doctor, and sends a telegram to her older sister Emma, who’s been staying with a friend in nearby Fairhaven for the past two weeks: “A terrible accident. Come home.”

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four stars. “Everything about Schmidt’s novel is hauntingly, beautifully off. It’s a creepy and penetrating work, even for a book about Lizzie Borden.”

Talon of God by Wesley Snipes and Ray Norman; Harper Voyager, 368 pp.; fiction

A supernatural adventure about the war between angels and demons — literal and metaphorical — on the streets of Chicago, centering on a young ER doctor named Lauryn Jefferson.

USA TODAY says *** stars. “Entertaining… Snipes has just as much punch with a keyboard as with his fists… the realm of urban fantasy has an impressive new disciple.”

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein; Harper Wave, 328 pp.; non-fiction

Silverstein’s memoir celebrates the friends who gathered ’round as her transplanted heart failed after 26 years.

USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Seamlessly knits several important issues into one compelling package.”

Camino Island by John Grisham; Doubleday, 290 pp.; fiction

Grisham’s thriller begins with a shocking heist at Princeton University’s Firestone Library, as a crew of crooks pulls off a literary crime for the ages, absconding with the original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels. The Great Gatsby, gone!

USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “A fresh, fun departure from (Grisham’s) usual fare.”

The Flight: Charles Lindbergh’s Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing by Dan Hampton; William Morrow, 271 pp.; non-fiction

Aviation historian Hampton takes us back 90 years, into the cramped cockpit of Charles Lindbergh’s plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, and across the cold Atlantic during his historic New York-to-Paris flight.

USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “An engrossing account… will appeal to flight enthusiasts, history buffs and those who appreciate well-crafted tales of adventure.”

Contributing reviewers: Steph Cha, Brian Truitt, Sharon Peters, Jocelyn McClurg, George Petras

 

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