Dead Reckoning

Caitlin Rother (MSJ87)

Tom and Jackie Hawks loved their life in retirement, sailing on their yacht, the Well Deserved. But when the birth of a new grandson called them back to Arizona, they put the boat up for sale. Skylar Deleon and his pregnant wife Jennifer showed up as prospective buyers, with their baby in a stroller, and the Hawkses thought they had a deal. Soon after a sea trial and an alleged purchase, however, the older couple disappeared and the Deleons promptly tried to access the Hawkses’ bank accounts.

As police investigated the case, they not only found a third homicide victim with ties to Skylar, they also uncovered an unexpected and unusual motive: Skylar had wanted gender reassignment surgery for years. By killing the Hawkses with a motley crew of assailants and plundering the couple’s assets, the Deleons had planned to clear their $100,000 in debts and still have money for the surgery, which Skylar had already scheduled.

Now, in this up-to-the-minute updated edition of DEAD RECKONING, which includes extensive new material, New York Times bestselling author Rother presents the latest breaking developments in the case. Skylar, who was ultimately sentenced to death row for the three murders, transitioned to a woman via hormones while living in the psych unit at San Quentin prison. Recently, she legally changed her name and gender to female, apparently a strategic step in her quest to obtain taxpayer-subsidized gender confirmation surgery and transfer to a women’s prison. Combined with Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent moratorium on executions, this only adds insult to injury for the victims’ families, who want Skylar to receive the ultimate punishment for her crimes.



Jeffrey Marshall (MSJ74)

In “Undetected,Jeffrey Marshall has created a suspense novel built around Suzy Perry, a lovely and sophisticated older woman who marries into a new family in Westchester County, N.Y. They know little about her past, which she guards closely – but they could never suspect that she’s a black widow who has killed two husbands, changed her name and abandoned her only daughter.

Her new husband’s son finds her enigmatic past troubling, especially as clues and tidbits of information emerge. A journalist, he brings his own skills and the help of a private investigator to ferret out more. As the evidence mounts, it becomes more than just circumstantial – and then Suzy is on the run.

This is Marshall’s second novel and fourth book.


Here Lies America: Buried Agendas and Family Secrets at the Tourist Sites Where Bad History Went Down

Jason Cochran (BSJ93)

In “Here Lies America,” Cochran, editor-in-chief at and host of a weekly travel radio show on WABC in NYC, takes his readers on a journey through disaster zones, battlefields, terrorist attack sites— as long as it has a parking lot and a gift shop, Cochran put it on the itinerary, no gravestone unturned. From coast to coast, he unearths history that was manipulated with monuments, discovers people who subtly carved propaganda into stone from Arlington to Hollywood to the Times Square subway, and asks why some our country’s most momentous sacrifices were all but erased from the landscape.

And when he pauses to find the spot where one of his own ancestors met an untimely demise, he unravels a tragic race-based murder plot that had remained buried for a century.


China Notes of the Venerable Foreign Expert

Patricia Endress (BSJ54, MSJ60)

“China Notes of the Venerable Foreign Expert,” is a collection of Endress’ articles she wrote for her local newspaper, The Sherman Sentinel.  The book chronicles her experience teaching college students in one of China’s first enterprise cities as the country entered the global market.  On and off from 2000 to 2008, she watched a drab city become a major tourist stop and the small college where she taught morph into a university.  In what she calls her “footnote to history,” she also recounts her adventures with Chinese medicine, new foods, hair cuts, and the wonderful students and friends she met along the way.


 Lavash: The bread that launched 1,000 meals, plus salads, stews, and other recipes from Armenia

Kate Leahy (MSJ06)

In “Lavash: The bread that launched 1,000 meals, plus salads, stews, and other recipes from Armenia,” Leahy teamed up with co-authors John Lee, a photojournalist, and Ara Zada, an Armenian-American chef, for a cookbook about the food of Armenia.

On their travels throughout this small country in the Caucasus, the trio not only met master lavash makers (who are always women) but also witnessed a political revolution that is currently reshaping Armenia’s future. In Lavash, readers learn how to make the country’s beloved UNESCO-recognized flatbread and discover the many dishes it enhances, from brothy soups and hearty salads to grilled meats, vegetables, and sweets. Meanwhile, location photography in Armenia and stories about the terrain provide glimpses into the country of Armenia itself. At its core, Lavash is a celebration of a simple bread eaten with simple food, a true reflection of this resilient, beautiful country.


Middle School Matters: The 10 Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond—and How Parents Can Help

Phyllis Fagell (MSJ98)

As a school counselor and frequent contributor to The Washington Post and other national publications, Fagell brings a voice of authority to her first book, “Middle School Matters: The 10 Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond—and How Parents Can Help.”

Middle school is often written off as an uncomfortable rite of passage. Based on her many years working in schools, professional counselor Fagell sees these years instead as a critical stage that parents can’t afford to ignore. Though the transition from childhood to adolescence can be tough for kids, this time of rapid physical, intellectual, moral, social, and emotional change is a unique opportunity to proactively build character and confidence. In “Middle School Matters,” Fagell helps parents use their child’s middle school years as a low-stakes training ground to teach kids the key skills they’ll need to thrive now and in the future, including making good friend choices, negotiating conflict, regulating their own emotions, being their own advocates, and more. To answer parents’ most common questions and struggles with middle school-aged children, Fagell combines her professional and personal expertise with stories and advice from prominent psychologists, doctors, parents, educators, and middle schoolers themselves.


War Football: World War I and the Birth of the NFL

Chris Serb, MSJ95

Serb’s new book “War Football” is about the military origins of professional football, through the network of army, navy, and marine training bases that sponsored the sport during World War I as both a training tool and a diversion for trainees during their hours of liberty. In the process, so-called “war football” created the first true all-star teams in the sport; raised millions of dollars for the war effort; and broke down longstanding barriers to professionalism, all while featuring top-flight, high-quality football. Within two years of the Armistice the NFL was born, featuring more than 240 War Football veterans (including 7 Hall of Famers, one of whom, Paddy Driscoll, played college football at Northwestern) as professional football pioneers.


The Human Spirit Under Siege

George Baum (BSJ55, MSJ66)

Ethnic cleansing. Genocide. Anti-Semitism. The Holocaust. Homophobia. Racism. All are seeds of crimes against humanity. Each continues occurring almost daily all over the world. There seems to be no end to the mind-bending numbers of humans under siege.

George A. Baum, a retired 20th century Chicago television journalist, views his new book,”The Human Spirit Under Siege,” as a chronicle of events that led to his incarceration in a concentration camp during the Holocaust, contrasting his experience to the world we live in now, when masses of humanity are recording their plight on their cell phones for everyone to witness.

The author was born the same year that Hitler became Chancellor in Nazi Germany. This book describes how their lives intersected a number of times in the following decade, culminating in the author’s three years in the concentration camp Therezienstadt  (Terezín in Czech) and in the disintegration of his family. The 15 Episodes of “The Human Spirit Under Siege” are a personal account observed through childhood memories, and brought into realities of the 21st century.
Two surveys in Canada and the U.S. taken in the past year, show an alarming ignorance of the Holocaust among 18 to 34 year olds. Just about half who took the survey couldn’t come up with the name of even one concentration camp.

Tim Kaiser, the Deputy Director of the Levine Institute of Holocaust Education at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., put it this way: “We recognize that, as Holocaust educators…we still have a lot of work to do.”



Al Pessin (BSJ76)

After nearly 40 years in journalism, Pessin will publish his first novel, “Sandblast,” in March 2020. When the plane carrying the U.S. defense secretary is blown out of the sky, Pentagon Covert Ops runner Bridget Davenport comes up with a plan: infiltrate the Taliban, find the terrorist mastermind, and at all costs thwart his next plot – an attack more devastating than 9/11. But what American could possibly do that? Enter Army Lieutenant Faraz Abdallah, son of Afghan immigrants. His heritage and language skills make him the ideal candidate, but he’s fresh out of ROTC and no one knows whether he can do the job. When Faraz is forced to become a terrorist Bridget must convince the president and the top brass not to pull the plug. NYT bestselling author Richard Castle says, “Al Pessin escorts you through thrills and chaos…This guy knows his stuff.”


Voice with No Echo

Suzanne Chazin (MSJ82)

In Chazin’s gripping new mystery, “Voice with No Echo,” a long-buried family secret and a chance encounter with an estranged sibling force police detective Jimmy Vega to confront his deepest fears…

It’s spring in Lake Holly, New York, a time of hope and renewal. But not for immigrants in this picturesque upstate town. Raids and deportations are on the rise, spurring fear throughout the community.

Tensions reach the boiling point when the district attorney’s beautiful young bride is found hanging in her flooded basement, an apparent victim of suicide. But is she, wonders Vega? If so, where is her undocumented immigrant maid? Is she a missing witness, afraid to come forward? Or an accessory to murder?

Vega gets more help than he bargained for when Immigration and Customs Enforcement sends an investigator to help find—and likely deport—the maid. It’s Vega’s half-sister Michelle, the child who caused his father to leave his mother. Now an ICE agent, Michelle tangles with Vega and his girlfriend, immigrant activist, Adele Figueroa. The law is the law, Michelle reminds Vega. And yet, his heart tells him he needs to dig deeper, not just into the case but into his past, to a childhood terror only Michelle can unlock.

While Vega searches for the demon from his youth, he discovers one uncomfortably close by, erecting a scheme of monstrous proportions. It’s a race against the clock with lives on the line. And a choice Vega never thought he’d have to make: Obey the law. Or obey his conscience. There’s no margin for error…