Fiction

Baldacci, David. One Summer. Grand Central. Jun. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780446583145. $25.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio.
A change of pace for Baldacci: tear-jerking inspiration. Lizzie is tending her terminally ill husband, Jack, when she is killed in a car accident and the children must be farmed out to relatives around the country. Miraculously, Jack goes into remission and gathers his family together at Lizzie’s oceanfront childhood home in South Carolina for a life-affirming summer. Thriller fans should know that Baldacci is publishing two books in that genre next year; let’s see how he does on this new track.

Birch, Carol. Jamrach’s Menagerie. Doubleday. Jun. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780385534406. $26.95.
A young lad dashing through the streets of Victorian London runs smack into an escaped circus animal and nearly becomes its dinner. His rescuer regales him with stories of shipboard adventure, and soon our young hero finds himself bound for the South Seas. Birch is much admired in the UK, where her honors include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and as this book is said to carry hints of Great Expectations, Moby-Dick, and Andrea Barrett’s Thejamrach Fiction Voyage of Narwhal, it is well worth watching.

Carey, Jacqueline. Naamah’s Blessing. Grand Central. Jun. 2011. 736p. ISBN 9780446198073. $26.99.
Bad news when Moirin returns to Terre d’Ange: grieving for his lost queen, the king isn’t bothering to rule, and the heir is assumed dead after sailing off to explore Terra Nova. Though they weren’t the hugest sellers, Naamah’s Kiss and Naamah’s Curse both hit the New York Times best sellers list. Buy this concluding trilogy if the first two did well in your library.

Christensen, Kate. The Astral. Doubleday. Jun. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9780385530910. $24.95. eISBN 9780385530927.
The Astral, a big, rose-hued apartment building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has long been home to poet Harry Quirk and his family. But Harry’s wife, Luz, has discovered poems that seem to confirm her suspicions of infidelity, and she’s tossed him out (and shredded the poems). Harry, sensing that he’s failed as a poet, husband, and father (son Hector is trapped in a crazy Christian cult), decides to set things straight. This latest from Christensen arrives with some promise, as her recent The Great Man won a PEN Faulkner Award. This could be a real charmer; watch.

My Pick
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers. Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780062041265. $24.99.
Eli Sisters is feeling grumpy; brother Charlie has been declared lead man on their next assignment from the Commodore. But it’s a job, so off they ride to Sacramento with the aim of killing a gold miner the Commodore wants out of the way. As they track their quarry, encountering an odd assortment of whores, drunks, and visionaries, Eli begins to have qualms about the bloody life he leads. Both homage to the classic Western and knife thrust to its dark underbelly, this novel has a quirky, deadpan exterior and a hard-beating heart; we come to see how men die and how the brotherly bond shifts but holds. Rabid in-house enthusiasm, a rising young author (Ablutions: Notes for a Novel), and film interest (John C. Reily is attached to produce and star as Eli) will help these brothers along. I was intrigued by page one; for all readers looking for something telling and different.

Evanovich, Janet. Smokin’ Seventeen. Bantam. Jun. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780345527684. $20. lrg. prnt. CD: Random Audio.
Some 75 million copies of Evanovich’s 33 novels have been sold worldwide, the last Stephanie Plum novel debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list, the film version of One for Money (starring Katherine Heigl) is set for a summer 2011 release, and Evanovich’s new publisher is planning a smash-up campaign for her latest. I’m telling you all this because I can’t tell you much about the plot‚ there are never many plot details before the release of a Stephanie Plum novel‚ but you still know you’ll need to buy lots.

Ignatius, David. Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage. Norton. Jun. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780393078114. $25.95.
A new CIA unit in Pakistan is being systematically decimated, and ambitious young CIA agent Sophie Marx is charged with figuring out why. As she gets closer to the truth, her confidence in both her CIA bosses and her Pakistani contactignatius1 Fiction goes up in smoke. A prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, Ignatius has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for 25 years, so he knows his news. With his recent Increment being developed for film by Jerry Bruckheimer, he would seem to know his thrills as well.

Loehfelm, Bill. The Devil She Knows. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jun. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780374136529. $26.
At 29, bar waitress Maureen is just drifting through life‚ until she encounters coworker Dennis deep in the embrace of would-be politician Frank Sebastian. The next day, Dennis lies dead, and Maureen shows her spunk by going after his killer. Loehfelm’s Fresh Kills was an Amazon Breakthrough award winner, and Sarah Crichton is particularly excited about this new one, which is being published under her imprint at Farrar.

Lupton, Rosamund. Sister. Crown. Jun. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780307716514. $24. eISBN 9780307716538.
Everyone believes that moody artist Tess killed herself‚ except her sister, Bee, who knew Tess was pleased to be pregnant. Despite headshaking by family and the police, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and her life, trying to find the killer she knows is there. A best seller and Richard and Judy pick in the UK, this first novel will attract readers of women’s fiction and thrillers alike. The publisher has already signed Lupton’s second novel, which speaks volumes. With a reading group guide.

Martin, Lee. Break the Skin. Crown. Jun. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307716750. $24. eISBN 9780307716774.
Disaffected teenager Laney has no one in the world but the older Delilah, whom she clings to like a raft. Then the police start asking Laney questions that link her to the sadder-but-wiser Miss Baby, who thinks she’s finally found true lovebreak1 Fiction with a gentle man who can’t remember his own name, and the story of a wrenching crime emerges. Martin has a following‚ he’s won a passel of awards (e.g., Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction), and The Bright Forever was a Pulitzer finalist‚ so maybe Break the Skin will break him out. It certainly sounds enticing.

Nair, Kamala. The Girl in the Garden. Grand Central. Jun. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780446572682. $24.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio.
On the eve of her marriage, Rakhee Singh recalls being taken to her mother’s ancestral home in India as a ten year old and discovering that family secrets lay buried in the lush jungle behind the house. Pitched as a cross between Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, this debut sounds affecting (the proof will be the writing) and could do well with reading groups. Watch.

Orozco, Daniel. Orientation and Other Stories. Faber & Faber. Jun. 2011. 176p. ISBN 9780865478534. $23.
In his stories, Orozco paints portraits of ordinary guys‚ warehouse workers, office temps, and the like‚ who find comfort in everyday routines but crack in revealing ways when odd things happen. His stories having appeared in many anthologies, e.g., Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Anthology, this collection is highly anticipated by those in the know.

Pressfield, Steven. The Profession: A Thriller. Crown. Jun. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780385528733. $25.
In his latest, Pressfield imagines a world in which private military forces have all the power, with world leaders vying for their services. When the commander of the largest force around decides to take control of the United States, his top commando‚ Gilbert Gent Gentilhomme‚ opts to wipe out his commander. Pressfield dominates the military thriller genre, and his works are realistic enough that military colleges like West Point assign them. Buy wherever this genre is popular.

Slaughter, Karin. Fallen. Delacorte. Jun. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780345528209. $26. eISBN 9780345528223.
As in last year’s Broken, Slaughter brings together Will Trent and Sara Linton from her two popular series for another rousing case. They’re helping Special Agent Faith Mitchell, who went to pick up her baby at her mother’s but instead found the babe in the toolshed, her mother missing, and a bloody handprint on the door. With 20 million copies of her books in print in 30 different territories worldwide, Slaughter is hugely popular. And she’s a huge library fan, too, arguing that supporting libraries is a matter of national security and offering to fundraise for them. Librarians, return the compliment; patrons will be happy if you buy multiples. With a six-city tour to Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York.

Thayer, Nancy. Heat Wave. Ballantine. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780345518316. $25. eISBN 9780345518330. CD/Download: Random Audio.
It’s complicated: Carley discovers that one of her best friends is having an affair with the husband of another best friend, Vanessa. Her own husband is taciturn and withdrawn after financial reversals, and so she gives in to the embrace of a hunky carpenter she’s hired at precisely the wrong moment. That night, the police arrive to tell Carley that her husband died in a hotel‚ where he had gone with Vanessa. Now Carley is trying to maintain sanity for the sake of her daughters and turn their Nantucket home into a B&B‚ when Vanessa comes begging for help. This latest from the popular Thayer should make good beach reading.

Wilson, Daniel H. Robopocalypse. Doubleday. Jun. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780385533850. $25. eISBN 9780385533867. CD/Download: Random Audio.
Ever thought that technology was out to get you? In Wilson’s thriller, it happens 20 year from now, when a powerful artificial intelligence called Archos rises up to kill its creator and then takes control of technology worldwide. At first,robo Fiction only odd little things happen, but then in a matter of moments every piece of equipment turns against humanity‚ which ends up united for the first time ever. With Steven Spielberg set to direct the film version, to be distributed by Disney’s Touchstone in 2013, you bet this will be big. Buy multiples.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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