Off the Shelves for 12-2-20

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AT THE LIBRARY

The following items are available at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road. For more information on the library’s collection or to reserve a title, visit hcplibrary.org.

Adult Fiction

“Saint X,” by Alexis Schaitkin

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Claire is seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of the family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men — employees at the resort — are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives. Years later, Claire is living in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth — not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of 18 at a turbulent moment of identity formation. As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

Adult Nonfiction

“The Cigarette: a Political History,” by Sarah Milov

Tobacco is the quintessential American product. From Jamestown to the Marlboro Man, the plant occupied the heart of the nation’s economy and expressed its enduring myths. But today smoking rates have declined, and smokers are exiled from many public spaces. The story of tobacco’s fortunes may seem straightforward: science triumphed over our addictive habits and the cynical machinations of tobacco executives. Yet the reality is more complicated. Both the cigarette’s popularity, and its eventual decline reflect a parallel course of shifting political priorities. The tobacco industry flourished with the help of the state, but it was the concerted efforts of citizen nonsmokers who organized to fight for their right to clean air that led to its undoing. Following the Great Depression, public officials and organized tobacco farmers worked together to ensure that the government’s regulatory muscle was more often deployed to promote tobacco than to protect the public from its harms. Even as evidence of the cigarette’s connection to cancer grew, medical experts could not convince officials to change their stance. What turned the tide, Sarah Milov argues, was a new kind of politics: a movement for nonsmokers’ rights. Activists and public-interest lawyers took to the courts, the streets, city councils, and boardrooms to argue for smoke-free workplaces and allied with scientists to lobby elected officials.