Mysteries, Histories and More
by Niki Kourofsky
Many people have seen reﬂections of heaven in the Adirondack landscape. But if this year’s bumper crop of Blue Line–based thrillers is any indication, just as many imagine killers lurking behind every tree, and corpses piled as thick as pine needles on the forest ﬂoor.
Those who ﬁnd that genre arresting should check out A Cold and Lonely Place (Crown Books), by Sara J. Henry, former sports editor for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Her latest page-turner adds murder to the mayhem of Saranac Lake’s winter carnival (287 pages, $24, hardcover, www.sarajhenry.com).
In Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow (Ballantine Books), a cop’s widow ﬁghts through a brutal North Country winter and her neighbors’ stonewalling to unbury the secrets surrounding her husband’s death (326 pages, $26, hardcover, www.jennymilchman.com).
Here Be Monsters (SmartPig Publishing), by Jamie Shefﬁeld, introduces a protagonist on the autism spectrum—a sleuth whose unique skills help him untangle a knotty North Country mystery (286 pages, $12.99, softcover, www.jamieshefﬁeld.com).
Joseph Rector’s The Ruby Seat (Koehler Books), a suspense story set in the Saranacs, offers more life lessons than lurid details (222 pages, $14.95, softcover, www.koehlerbooks.com).
And for a truly G-rated whodunit, pick up the latest installment of the Adirondack Kids series by Justin and Gary VanRiper: The Carousel Case, the Bicycle Race & the Blackﬂy Bad Guy (Adirondack Kids Press, 88 pages, $9.95, black-and-white images, softcover, www.adirondackkids.com).
If it’s a mystery to you why mysteries are so popular, there are plenty of other options. In Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide (Bloated Toe Publishing), Kim and Pam Ladd offer proﬁles of 46 bars around the park, 46 regional drink recipes, and a Happy Hour Trail Passport (sold separately) to keep track of your travels (160 pages, $28, color photographs, spiral-bound hardcover, www.bloatedtoe.com).
Robert Bartholomew’s The Untold Story of Champ: A Social History of America’s Loch Ness Monster (State University of New York Press) teases out sea monster fact from ﬁction. Spoiler alert: reports that Samuel de Champlain saw a giant creature in his namesake lake fall into the latter category (267 pages, $24.95, black-and-white images, softcover, www.sunypress.edu).
Dr. Dan Way features a cast of resilient Adirondack characters in Never a Dull Moment: A Tapestry of Scenes and Stories from an Adirondack Medical Practice (160 pages, $24.95, color photographs, softcover, www.danielway.com).
A Visitor’s Guide to Camp Santanoni, Adirondack Great Camp and National Historic Landmark (Adirondack Architectural Heritage) provides a history-packed self-led tour through this Newcomb-based treasure (48 pages, $3.95, color and black-and-white images, softcover, www.aarch.org).
Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George (Thames & Hudson Books), by Erin B. Coe, Bruce Robertson and Gwendolyn Owens, examines the artist’s relationship with this region (200 pages, $40, color images, hardcover, www.thamesandhudsonusa.com).
Adirondack Kaleidoscope and North Country Characters (In the Adirondacks), edited by William J. O’Hern, is a compilation of essays from the mid-20th-century quarterly North Country Life (368 pages, $26.95, black-and-white photographs, www.adkwilds.com).
And Up on a Hill and Thereabouts: An Adirondack Childhood (State University of New York Press), by Gloria Stubing Rist, remembers life on the outskirts of Ticonderoga during the Depression (341 pages, $24.95, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.sunypress.edu).
More regional reads:
Adirondack Reflections: On Life and Living in the Mountains and the Valleys (The History Press), edited by Neal Burdick and Maurice Kenny, offers more than a dozen thoughtful essays on people and places throughout the park (107 pages, $19.99, color photographs, softcover, www.historypress.net). A companion volume, North Country Reflections, is also available.
In the second edition of The Adirondack Slide Guide: An Aerial View of the High Peaks Region, which details almost 100 slides, backcountry skier Drew Haas documents the dramatic changes generated by 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene (53 pages, $14.95, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.mountaineer.com).
Adirondack Trail of Gold (North Country Books), by Larry Weill, imagines an epic quest to find treasure once held by French Louie and a Revolutionary War spy (382 pages, $22.95, softcover, www.northcountrybooks.com).
Adirondack Life contributing photographer Mark Bowie offers After Midnight, the ultimate guide to capturing the landscape and heavens at night (157 pages, $20, e-book, www.markbowie.com).
Walt McLaughlin finds peace and blisters on his 133-mile journey in The Allure of the Deep Woods: Backpacking the Northville-Placid Trail (North Country Press, 150 pages, $17.95, softcover, www.northcountrybooks.com).
In Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Milkweed Editions), botanist and Potawatomi Robin Wall Kimmerer uses ancient insight to enrich our understanding of the natural world (320 pages, $24.00, softcover, www.milkweed.org).
Gail Huntley offers Conquering the Wild (Bookstand Publishing), a novelization of Long Lake’s early history (204 pages, $14.95, softcover, www.gailhuntley.com). A sequel, based on extensive oral histories, is due out next year.
Christmas in the Wild (Birch Brook Press) brings together a dozen writers to tell adventurous holiday tales, including an entry from the Adirondacks, “Bells Along the Northville–Lake Placid Trail,” by Tim Grain (120 pages, $18, softcover, www.birchbrookpress.info).
Al Cambronne’s well-researched and easy-to-read Deerland: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wildness (Lyons Press) examines the reasons for and ramifications of an exploding white-tailed deer population (263 pages, $18.95, softcover, www.lyonspress.com).
Finding My Way to Moose River Farm: Living with Animals in the Adirondacks is a lighthearted memoir by Anne T. Phinney, a farmer and Old Forge elementary school teacher who uses all kinds of critters to inspire her students—and her readers (268 pages, $17.95, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.mooseriverfarm.com).
Though Lady of Yaddo: The Gilded Age Memoir of Katrina Trask (French Mountain Press) is fictional, author Lynn Esmay used the journals and letters of this Victorian paragon—founder of a fabled artists’ retreat—to craft a realistic portrait (225 pages, $16, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.ladyofyaddo.com).
Miracle on Snowbird Lake (Deep River Books), by Stan Bednarz, follows a pastor around the Tug Hill region as he tries to recover his kidnapped daughter as well as his flagging faith (165 pages, $13.99, softcover, www.deepriverbooks.com).
Keene-based author Russell Banks’s latest, A Permanent Member of the Family (Ecco), is a collection of vivid short stories, a number of which are set in the Adirondacks (240 pages, $25.99, hardcover, www.amazon.com).
In Photographing the Adirondacks: Fall in the High Peaks Region, Adirondack Life contributor Chris Tennant teams up with Adam Baker to lay out a visually stunning how-to with tips on both techniques and locations (100-plus pages, $7, e-book, www.adkbook.com).
Michael Virtanen builds suspense along the Hudson in The River’s Tale (Lost Pond Press), his second Adirondack-based thriller (149 pages, $14.95, softcover, www.lostpondpress.com).
Unknown Museums of Upstate New York (Syracuse University Press), by Chuck D’Imperio, highlights 50 destinations that are off the beaten historical path (334 pages, $27.95, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu).
Writer and illustrator Carol Gregson offers a lively record of her Adirondack life in Wet Socks (Bloated Toe Publishing), a sequel to last decade’s Leaky Boots (228 pages, $19.25, black-and-white illustrations, softcover, www.bloatedtoe.com).
When Maples Turn Red: Growing up in the Adirondacks (Outskirts Press), a first novel by 81-year-old Chazy Lake native Richard King, is a coming-of-age story set amongst the woods and waters that King once called home (432 pages, $18.95, softcover, www.outskirtspress.com).
When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair in the Adirondack Wilderness after the American Revolution (Pyramid Press), by Glenn L. Pearsall, details some of the earliest attempts to tame this territory (400 pages, $18.95, softcover, black-and-white images, www.barnesandnoble.com). Pearsall is also author of 2008’s Echoes in These Mountains: Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community.
Wilmington and the Whiteface Region, compiled by the Wilmington Historical Society, is packed with more than 200 historical photographs and detailed captions. It’s one of the latest additions to Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, along with Moriah and Port Henry in the Adirondacks and Ticonderoga, (127 pages each, $21.99 each, black-and-white photographs, softcover, www.arcadiapublishing.com).
Tags: Adirondack books, Adirondack history, Adirondack memoir, Adirondack mysteries, Adirondack photography, Camp Santanoni, Georgia O'Keeffe, Katrina Trask, Lake Champlain monster, North Country books