Top Picks: A Discovery Channel look at James 'Whitey' Bulger, pianist/singer Eliane Elias's new album, and more

Norwegian detective Harry Hole returns in Jo Nesbo's 'The Redeemer,' a two-disc compilation of Ane Brun's songs is worth a listen, and more top picks.

The Politician’s Wife on DVD
Monitor film critic Peter Rainer's book 'Rainer On Film'
Bob Wolfenson/Concord Jazz
Eliane Elias' “I thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker).”

Web of revenge

The Politician’s Wife, a drama of betrayal and revenge, is a sleek British hit from 1995 that aired in the United States on “Masterpiece Theater” in 1996. The award-winning series stars Juliet Stevenson and Minnie Driver in this tale of a wife who publicly stands by her politician husband in the face of scandal and breach of marital trust – but who privately weaves a web of revenge. The DVD set is available June 4.

Boston’s bad guy

James “Whitey” Bulger may not be as famous as Al Capone, but he was arguably more brutal and ultimately more corrosive to the American criminal justice system than virtually any other crime figure in US history. He masterminded a criminal empire that reputedly included 19 murders, many of them by his own hand. As an FBI informant for 20 years, Mr. Bulger used that connection to eliminate his rivals. Whitey Bulger: The Making of a Monster, on Investigation Discovery (June 3), lays out the sordid tale as federal prosecutors ready their case for Bulger’s trial, which commences June 10.

Intimate jazz tribute

Jazz requires a rare talent to play well and an even finer skill set to sing. Brazilian pianist/singer Eliane Elias demonstrates an effortless mastery of both on I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker). Gently swinging through an inspired selection of American standards, Ms. Elias and her band put a subtle bossa nova flavor on songs associated with Mr. Baker, the cool-blowing West Coast trumpeter who excelled both as singer and master of his instrument.

Scandinavian songstress

If you’ve only ever heard Norwegian-born, Sweden-based Ane Brun by way of her soaring duet with Peter Gabriel on one of many versions of that world-music pioneer’s “Don’t Give Up” – or even if you’ve not heard her ethereal warblings at all – consider gifting yourself her two-disc compilation, Songs 2003-2013. Highlights include her own energetic work “Do You Remember?” You won’t forget it.

Gripping thriller

Ever-troubled Norwegian detective Harry Hole returns in this tale bouncing between the war in the Balkans and December 2003 in The Redeemer, by Jo Nesbo. A contract killer working his final job shoots the wrong person on Harry’s home turf of Oslo, and soon after, the detective finds himself making inquiries into the world of the Salvation Army, among other adventures. Harry is moody and depressive – and now has a new boss, too. Kudos to Mr. Nesbo for keeping this series lively and to Harry for fighting the good fight.

30 years at the movies

Monitor film critic Peter Rainer has just published Rainer On Film, an anthology of his criticisms spanning 30 years. His reviews and critical essays range from “Overrated, Underseen” to “Literary and Theatrical Adaptations” and serve as cultural snapshots of the time at which they appeared. Mr. Rainer has proved time and again to be an insightful and forthright critic, and this collection will be a valuable reference for any movie buff.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to