The best books to fall down a rabbit hole

John Allore Author Of Wish You Were Here
By John Allore

Who am I?

I chose these books because a theme in my writing is standing up, and being a champion for things that get forgotten – books, music, events, people. Also, for anyone who has done investigative reporting, the sense is always like you’re going down a rabbit hole and penetrating a dark, undiscovered country. Also – and I don’t think many people know this – I was an English Lit major in college at the University of Toronto. In my early days I did a lot of reading, on a disparate field of interests. 

I wrote...

Wish You Were Here

By John Allore, Patricia Pearson,

Book cover of Wish You Were Here

What is my book about?

In fall 1978, teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn't seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn't investigate. Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa's brother, John, after Theresa's death. Though the two teens went their separate ways, the family's grief, obsession with justice, and desire for the truth never left Patricia. 

In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when the cops came to the door. They determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, an accomplished crime journalist and author, and they found answers more alarming than they could have imagined.

The books I picked & why

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The Professor and the Prostitute: And Other True True Tales of Murder and Madness

By Linda Wolfe,

Book cover of The Professor and the Prostitute: And Other True True Tales of Murder and Madness

Why this book?

Linda Wolfe is a throwback to the way true crime used to be written and should continue to be written. She was an old-school investigative reporter with an endlessly inquisitive mind and a keen sense of storytelling. Wolfe died just before the Covid pandemic broke, her passing went largely unnoticed. She’s chiefly known for her book about Robert Chambers, Wasted: The Preppie Murder about the 1986 Central Park strangulation murder of Jennifer Levin. The Professor and the Prostitute is a great, lurid title, and this series of essays are fascinating portraits of behavior and psychology. Included is one of her most famous pieces originally penned for New York Magazine, The Strange Death of the Twin Gynecologists about Stewart and Cyril Marcus, made famous in the David Cronenberg film, Dead Ringers.

The Canadian Connection

By Jean-Pierre Charbonneau,

Book cover of The Canadian Connection

Why this book?

The Canadian Connection is an expose of the mafia in Canada and its implications for international crime operations. It was first published in French in the mid-1970s and immediately went on to become a national bestseller. There was a time in Quebec when you couldn’t turn the page of a newspaper without seeing an ad with an order form urging you to buy this “Shocking! Chilling!” book that revealed “Names! Dates! Locations!” Jean-Pierre Charbonneau is today considered one of the godfathers of Quebec writings on organized crime. The Canadian Connection is largely forgotten in English-speaking Canada and widely unknown to the rest of the world. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the mafia, and connections to the New York Five Families of organized crime. 

The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intense Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms

By Ron Rosenbaum,

Book cover of The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intense Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms

Why this book?

You’re probably picking up a theme here - I love an underdog, books that go largely unnoticed. Ron Rosenbaum spent most of his career writing for The Village Voice, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and many others. The Secret Parts of Fortune is a collection of some of his best stuff. Someone described Rosenbaum as “one part intellectual and one part private eye,” and these essays will definitely lead you down a rabbit hole, taking you places you’ve never even considered to venture. My point of entry was A Killing in Camelot, about the unsolved murder of Mary Meyer, an artist and Washington socialite who turned up murdered on a D.C. canal towpath in 1964. As the title suggests, there is a Kennedy connection – isn’t there always.

A Taste of Quebec

By Julian Armstrong,

Book cover of A Taste of Quebec

Why this book?

That’s right, a cookbook. Julian Armstrong was the long-time food editor for The Montreal Gazette, Quebec’s largest English-language newspaper. I lean heavily on this book to re-connect with my French heritage. What I love about A Taste of Quebec is its economy – one page, a short description, a list of ingredients with measurements, and a small insert telling you where the recipe originated and a little about that region. That’s it, on to the next page. Unlike online recipes – which can be convenient – there are no ads or long narratives about the author’s personal and complicated relationship with fennel. 

Going After Cacciato

By Tim O'Brien,

Book cover of Going After Cacciato

Why this book?

“To call Going After Cacciato a novel about war is like calling Moby Dick a novel about whales”. So wrote The New York Times about Tim O’Brien’s acclaimed anti-war tale of a soldier going AWOL during the Vietnam War. Haunting and psychedelic – the protagonist falls into a tunnel and winds up in Paris – Going After Cacciato is easily one of my favorite works of modern fiction. I tried to work a Tim O’Brien quote into my own book – I think the line, “the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” - but securing the rights proved too prohibitive (though I do use a lot of Lewis Carrol).

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Quebec, pop culture, and the Vietnam War?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Quebec, pop culture, and the Vietnam War.

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