Panama’s deposed dictator Manuel Noriega has disappeared from the world’s radar screen, but Austin’s Lawrence Wright shines a klieg light on the despot’s bizarre tenure in God’s Favorite: A Novel (Simon and Schuster). The former Texas Monthly contributing editor brilliantly fictionalizes Noriega’s fall from grace, complete with chilling depictions of political goon squads and slapstick scenes of voodoo hideouts. by Mike Shea