Readers Guide: Mimi Alford reveals her affair with JFK in “Once Upon a Secret”

Susie Stooksbury

“Once Upon a Secret” by Mimi Alford

For 41 years, Mimi Alford had locked away the facts surrounding her affair with President John Kennedy, which began when she was a 19-year-old intern at the White House and continued until his assassination in Dallas. Her story, “Once Upon a Secret,” is not so much an expose about their affair, but rather an honest exploration of the effect that clandestine relationship had on the rest of her life and how she has finally come to terms with it.

“Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage” by Hugh Brewster

Among the 2,223 passengers and crew on board the luxurious Titanic on her fateful maiden voyage to New York were some of the world’s wealthiest people, as well as members of both England and America’s upper classes. They are the subjects of historian Hugh Brewster’s fascinating new book, “Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage.” Join him as he brings to life “the Titanic’s first-class passengers and their world.

“The Innocent” by David Baldacci

By the time you reach the end of “The Innocent,” David Baldacci’s latest stand-alone thriller, you might not know who the title character really is. It certainly isn’t Will Robie, the government’s paid assassin who becomes a target himself after he balks at his assignment to kill a middle-aged mother of two. Nor is it Julie Getty, a 14-year-old streetwise kid who returns from a stint in foster care only to witness her drug-addicted parents being murdered. Will and Julie make a compelling team as they try to figure out who wants each of them dead and why.

“What Doesn’t Kill You” by Iris Johansen

Iris Johansen brings back Catherine Ling and John Gallo in her latest blockbuster, “What Doesn’t Kill You.” As an orphan on the streets of Hong Kong, Catherine formed a special attachment to elderly herbalist Hu Chang. Now he is in danger from a number of ambitious factions who want his newly developed concoction: a particularly deadly and non-detectible poison. While she works to help Chang, weapons dealer Hugh Nardik pressures her to get the formula for him and threatens to kidnap her son, Luke, who was only just recently located and returned after he was abducted as a baby.

“A Natural Woman” by Carole King

If you grew up during the ‘70s, chances are a song written by Carole King provided the background music to some of your major adolescent experiences. King still performs to packed venues today, her music and voice seasoned by a life full of challenges, joys and heartache. She writes candidly of that life in her memoir, “A Natural Woman.”

“The Professionals” by Owen Lankkanen

Pender, Sawyer, Mouse and Marie are four college buddies who haven’t been able to find work since their graduation. From this very modern premise, Owen Lankkanen has built an entertaining first novel, a top-notch thriller entitled “The Professionals.” One day, as the four of them are commiserating on their jobless situation, they hatch a scheme to kidnap businessmen and demand a ransom so low the victims won’t even report the crime. Their plan works, and they begin accumulating a tidy, tax-free sum –– until they unwittingly abduct someone who has connections to the Mafia.