Poor Richard's Book Shoppe staff picks

Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Poor Richard’s Books in Colorado Springs recommends a murder mystery, a graphic memoir and a historical deep dive.

The River We Remember

By William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
September 2023


From the publisher: On Memorial Day, as the people of Jewel, Minnesota gather to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many sons in the wars of the past, the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. Investigation of the murder falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who still carries the physical and emotional scars from his military service. Even before Dern has the results of the autopsy, vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran who has recently returned to Jewel with a Japanese wife. As suspicions and accusations mount and the town teeters on the edge of more violence, Dern struggles not only to find the truth of Quinn’s murder but also put to rest the demons from his own past. 

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator: One of the (many) things I love about Krueger’s writing is how he captures the pure essence and fluidity of midwestern lives and temperament. We understand, know, why the antagonist is the way they are. We are swept along unquestionably as pieces fall into place, some of them very surprising. The lives we encounter are ardent and bruised yet incredibly strong. A timeless story, all too relatable. 

The Talk

By Darrin Bell
Henry Holt & Co.
June 2023


From the publisher:This graphic memoir by a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning offers a deeply personal meditation on the “the talk” parents must have with Black children about racism and the brutality that often accompanies it, a ritual attempt to keep kids safe and prepare them for a world that, to paraphrase Toni Morrison, does not love them. Through evocative original illustrations, “The Talk” is a meditation on this coming-of-age-as Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and strangers, and thus of his mortality.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator: Oof. This is a tough one, folks. Rarely do we get to slip on someone else’s ill-fitting shoes and meander through their life so uncomfortably easy. “The Talk” is an emotional journey through Bell’s experience growing up as a person of color. Gut-wrenching honesty and expressive artwork combine to show us the pure difficulty and challenges of racial inequities and human stupidity. 

 Hell’s Half Acre

By Susan Jonusas
March 2023


From the publisher: In 1873 the people of Labette County, Kansas, made a grisly discovery. Buried by a trailside cabin beneath an orchard of young apple trees were the remains of countless bodies. Below the cabin itself was a cellar stained with blood. The Benders, the family of four who once resided on the property, were nowhere to be found. The discovery sent the local community and national newspapers into a frenzy that continued for decades, sparking an epic manhunt for the Benders. 

“Hell’s Half-Acre” is a journey into the turbulent heart of 19th-century America, a place where modernity stalks across the landscape, violently displacing existing populations and building new ones. It is a world where folklore can quickly become fact and an entire family of criminals can slip through a community’s fingers, only to reappear in the most unexpected of places.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator: Anyone from any small community knows of that one family that is a bit off and creepy. You hear rumors of strange happenings, eye contact is a definite no-no and they are to be avoided at all costs…meet the Benders. Susan Jonusas’ meticulously researched book is about one such family from southeastern plains of 19th-century Kansas. Combining historical facts, macabre details and some speculation, we are given not only a history lesson of the remarkable region and times but an investigative inquiry into a very dark and strange event that captured the imagination of many.


Poor Richard’s Books

320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs


As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

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