Summer Reading Guide: Daring tales of spies, drugs and love

"The Sound of Things Falling"
“The Sound of Things Falling” by Juan Gabriel Vasquez.

Whether you’re spending your August lazing at the beach or, like the rest of us, trying to find the best space on the couch to fully enjoy the air conditioner, a book is the perfect accompaniment. We’ve chosen a few books for the dog days of August – pick one of these to keep you company this month.

For an engaging, daring tale:

Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vasquez delves into his home country’s history in “The Sound of Things Falling,” looking at how the drug trade has affected Colombians. In Bogota, lawyer Antonio Yammara is reading about a hippo that escaped from drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s zoo. He’s transported back to the 1990s, when the Escobar cartel’s violence spilled over into everyday lives throughout the country, including a friend’s assassination that Antonio witnessed. To discover the truth about what happened to his friend, he traces Colombia’s history all the way back to the 1960s, before narco-trafficking gripped the country.

Reminiscent of the Edward Snowden case playing out through the media, “Weaponized” follows Kyle West, who is fleeing an investigation into a national surveillance program in which he was allegedly involved. He is hiding in Cambodia when he meets Julian Robinson, a businessman who offers to swap passports. After they trade identification, Kyle inevitably realizes he should have thought through the decision. The authors, Nicholas Mennuti, a Tisch School grad, and David Guggenheim, who wrote the screenplay for the film “Safe House,” weave in characters from Russian oligarchs to CIA operatives.

“Submergence” begins by plunging readers into a hellish, terrifying darkness — Brit James More has been captured by Al Qa’eda in Somalia. The novel tells of his love story with Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician studying life in the far-flung corners of the world. Scottish writer J.M. Ledgard’s part love story, part spy novel is underscored by his sharp skills as the East Africa correspondent for The Economist.

David Willington, of the “Monster Island” zombie novels, brings readers a scientific thriller in “Chimera.” Afghanistan veteran Jim Chapel is tasked with investigating a small band of fugitives who escaped from a top-secret military facility in upstate New York. He is assigned to track them and find out why they even exist, which opens the door to more mysteries.

“Fiend” has been described as “The Walking Dead” meets “Breaking Bad.” Sure, author Peter Stenson’s debut novel follows a group of tweakers during a zombie apocalypse, but “Fiend” is much more than just a hybrid of pop culture references. Stenson is a true writer and has a gift for capturing the drug-fueled anxiety that comes with meth abuse (he is a former user, now clean.) Couple that with fleeing from mobs of flesh-eating creatures — all while trying to track down their next fix — and you have one heck of a heart-pounding summer read. Dorothy Robinson

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.