It's tough to keep track of all the interesting new books dealing with Michigan history. Here's a brief look at three paperbacks that came out last year that are worth picking up.
It shifted locales frequently before returning permanently to Detroit; there's a great ad for the fair held in Lansing in 1889.
Minnis, a respected journalist, and Beaver, an MSU student, have compiled a fascinating book that really captivates the imagination, emphasizing a variety of fun-filled events that took place.
It also includes photos of famous people who appeared at the fair, ranging from President William Howard Taft, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to Ricky Nelson, the Temptations and the Jackson Five.
The detailed captions very accurately describe the uniqueness of the Michigan State Fair, offering many behind-the-scenes glimpses of the major historical event.
It focuses on the violent, brutal murders of seven girls and young women aged 13 to 23, whose mutilated bodies were dumped in the surrounding area.
Originally published in 1977, this volume was nominated for the Edgar Award as the Best Fact Crime Book of the Year.
Keyes' work is considered by many as a landmark in true crime writing; this edition has an excellent prologue by Mardi Link and a new epilogue by Laura James.
As a courtesy and using a stylistic device of the times, Keyes changes the names of the victims and killer. Many readers many will recognize clean-cut "James Armstrong" as John Norman Collins, who is still serving time in prison.
It explores McGavran's upbringing and examines parental attitudes and lifestyles of a bygone era. While serving as an ode to his parents and other family members, it also deftly captures a sense of place, savoring many aspects of growing up at Leelanau.
McGavran's intriguing effort would be better if he had used shorter paragraphs, but his inclusion of family photos makes the book more enjoyable.
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, January 2, 2011
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.