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The Short Life of Hughie McLoon (book cover)

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Short Life of Hughie McLoon’

Veteran sportswriter, reporter, and author Allen Abel’s “The Short Life of Hughie McLoon: A True Story of Baseball, Magic, and Murder,” recounts the life of a deformed youngster who navigates through 19th-century professional baseball, boxing and organized crime in Philadelphia, my hometown.

The Last Shah by Ray Takeyh (book cover)

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Last Shah’

Chalk one up to Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th century French diamond trader who left us an account of his travels in Persia.

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The Big Book of Espionage edited by Otto Penzler (book cover)

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Big Book of Espionage'

I've loved spy thrillers since I was a teenager, and I've always loved short stories, so I was pleased that Otto Penzler has edited "The Big Book of Espionage Stories."

Desert Redleg by L. Scott Lingamfelter (book cover)

BOOK REVIEW: 'Desert Redleg'

In "Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War" by L. Scott Lingamfelter, U.S Army colonel (retired), we are transported back to this time to experience the largest artillery barrage since World War II.

BOOK REVIEW: 'One Day in August'

Some years ago, I came across an account of the disastrous World War II raid on Dieppe written by a British naval intelligence officer who viewed the raid from the deck of a warship off the coast of France.

Summer by Ali Smith (book cover)

BOOK REVIEW: 'Summer'

Ali Smith's "Summer," the final novel of her seasonal quartet, is a remarkable book, rich in word-play and language, witty puns and deep concern for the catastrophes facing humanity today.

A look back at Ray Bradbury's crime stories

Ray Bradbury, who was born in 1920 and died in 2012 at the age of 91, wrote 400 short stories and nearly 50 books in his lifetime. He is best known for his novels, such as "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes," as well as other science fiction, fantasy and horror stories.

Mark Bowden's 'The Case of the Vanishing Blonde and Other True Crime Stories' (book cover)

Learning crimes behind Mark Bowden's 'The Case of the Vanishing Blonde and Other True Crime Stories'

Mark Bowden is perhaps best known for his book "Black Hawk Down" and his other books about the American military, such as "Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam," and "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam." But in his latest book, "The Case of the Vanishing Blonde and Other True Crime Stories," he returns to his roots as a crime reporter.

Lost River (book cover)

'Lost River' looks at drug trafficking and the aftermath in rural Kentucky

J. Todd Scott is a DEA special agent as well as a fine crime novelist. Reading his first novel, "The Far Empty," I was reminded of Norman Mailer's comment about then-Assistant U.S. Attorney George V. Higgins and his novel "The Friends of Eddie Coyle": "What I can't get over is that so good a first novel was written by the fuzz."