Old Newgate Road by Keith Scribner

Knopf, 2019, 320 pages

It’s likely no coincidence that Scribner’s novel, his fourth, shares a name with the long ago-shuttered Old Newgate Prison in East Granby. A native of the north-central Connecticut town who now teaches at Oregon State University, Scribner tells the story of Cole Callahan, himself from East Granby and now living in the Pacific Northwest. Callahan returns home after decades away to salvage wood from a barn used to dry tobacco leaves, a once-proud industry in this part of the state. Quickly, a door is opened to the past, as Callahan finds his father, recently released from prison after murdering Callahan’s mother years ago, living alone in their old house and spiraling into dementia. Events and emotions long buried are unearthed, a home and childhood filled with rage, fear, violence and trauma are explored. Old Newgate shows us that one can escape from a broken home, but the shackles of abuse remain tightly in place. — Albie Yuravich 

Quotable New EnglanderFour Centuries of Wit and Wisdom by Eric D. Lehman

Globe Pequot, 2018, 194 pages

Eric D. Lehman, a prolific Connecticut writer and historian, mines centuries of New England wit and wisdom for this immensely browsable book of quotes. There are well-known and obscure gems from historic and contemporary figures, ranging from Revolutionary War heroes to New England celebrities like Conan O’Brien. Connecticut is well represented with quotes from figures throughout the ages. P.T. Barnum advises one to “Fight fire with fire,” while ESPN’s Chris Berman warns, “Part-time information and full-time opinions can be very dangerous,” and many others from Connecticut and beyond share clever, bite-size thoughts. The book is broken up into chapters based on themes, making it easier to find quotes on various topics. A personal favorite from John Adams: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” — Erik Ofgang

Blood in the Streets by Dion Baia

Post Hill Press, 2018, 292 pages

Classic rock fans, Doors fans in particular, may read the title of the debut novel from Dion Baia and subconsciously add “in the town of New Haven.” Baia was born and raised in New Haven and Hamden and says the Elm City almost becomes one of the main characters in this piece of historical fiction set over seven days in 1976. The story centers around New Haven homicide detective Frank Suchy, a recovering alcoholic whose best friend’s child, his goddaughter, is brutally murdered at the Temple Street Garage. Jim Morrison himself even makes a cameo while Suchy is having a flashback. They had met at the infamous 1967 concert where Morrison was arrested onstage for attempting to incite a riot. Music plays such a big part in this novel — Baia started writing it as a screenplay — that there’s even a “suggested soundtrack” at the end. So dust off your vinyl copy of Morrison Hotel, set the needle on “Peace Frog” and start flipping the pages. — Mike Wollschlager

This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Send us your feedback on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag, or email editor@connecticutmag.com.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.