Fiction

Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Keeper of Lost Causes. Dutton. Aug. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780525952480. $NA.
A homicide detective who didn’t pull his gun fast enough, which led to one partner’s death and the disabling of another, Carl Moerk is now the keeper of lost causes. He presides over some very cold cases in a basement office as head and sole member of Department Q. One case concerns long-missing politician Merete Lyngaard‚ and it turns out not to be a lost cause at all. Danish author Adler-Olsen has published several crime novels in the Department Q series and last year won a Glass Key award, given for best crime novel by a Nordic author. Here he makes his U.S. debut. Given the standing of Nordic crime fiction generally, this definitely bears a look.

Armstrong, Kelley. Spell Bound (Other World, Bk. 12). Dutton. Jul. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780525952206. $25.95. Digital: Penguin Audio.
Bad news for the witch Savannah Levine. Having sworn off magic, she’s pretty helpless when a bunch of witch-hunting assassins and half-demons strike while she’s stuck on the road. And with the Council meeting in Miami, precious few fellow supernaturals are around to help her. Is the whole Underworld under threat? Ten years after debuting with Bitten, Armstrong gathers favorite characters from her No. 1 New York Times best sellers‚ among them Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jamie, and Hope‚ for a grand bash-up (but not, it seems, a grand finale). Buy multiples where Armstrong is popular.

Baker, Ellen. I Gave My Heart To Know This. Random. Aug. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9781400066360. $26; eISBN 9780679643944.
It’s World War II, and Grace dreams of making it big in Hollywood even as she works at the local shipyard with friend Lena and Lena’s mother, Violet. Then Grace’s sweetheart is killed in battle and Lena’s twin brother is declared missing when his ship goes down. Decades later, Violet’s great-granddaughter is still trying to understand the sorrow and the secrets that have torn apart her family and their friend, Grace. Baker’s debut, Keeping the House, won the 2008 Great Lakes Book Award, and this new novel sounds sweet and appealing. Watch.

Close, Jennifer. Girls in White Dresses. Knopf. Aug. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780307596857. $24.95; eISBN 9780307700414.
These girls are bridesmaids who can’t quite get things right. Isabella is acing her job but nevertheless loathes it, Mary adores a guy who adores only his mother, and Lauren finds herself attracted to someone who’s definitely not her type. This novel of modern-day manners from first timer Close must have impressed someone; there’s a 75,000-copy first printing. Stay tuned.

Florian, Filip. The Days of the King. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2011. 208p. ISBN 9780547388359. $22; eISBN 9780547549026.
In 1866, dentist Joseph Strauss leaves Prussia for Bucharest, following an officer who is shortly crowned prince of theflorian Fiction United Principalities of Romania. But the prince holds Strauss at bay, wanting to forget his past‚ particularly the blind prostitute at the brothel he and Strauss both frequented. Florian’s debut novel, Little Fingers, which won awards in his native Romania, was seen here as either brilliant or byzantine. You can probably guess whether it’s for you.

Fossum, Karin. Bad Intentions. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780547483344. $24; eISBN 9780547519425.
First a young man in psychiatric treatment is found floating in Dead Water Lake, even though both his psychiatrist and a fellow patient declare that he was on the mend. Then a dead Vietnamese immigrant surfaces, and Inspector Konrad Sejer knows he’s on to something bad. He’s just not sure whether he still has the stamina to fight it. This latest in the Inspector Sejer series from redoubtable Norwegian author Fossum is for all readers of crime fiction.

Garwood. Julie. The Ideal Man. Dutton. Aug. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780525952251. $26.95.
Too bad Dr. Ellie Sullivan saw that FBI agent gunned down by a Bonnie and Clyde‚ like couple called the Landrys. Not only is she the sole witness, but the Landrys have been captured before and have found a way to make sure that anyone who can identify them remains silent. That’s where agent Max Daniels comes in; he’s in charge of the case and of assuring Ellie’s well-being. And soon, of course, he’s starring in her love life. Garwood is a top romance seller‚ her last hardcover debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times best sellers list‚ and this will get big Romance Writers of America/Romantic Times promotion. Don’t hesitate where romance is hot.

Harvey, Michael. We All Fall Down. Knopf. Aug. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307272515. $24.95; eISBN 9780307700438. CD: Random Audio.
A lightbulb bursts in a Chicago subway tunnel, releasing a deadly pathogen; soon the L trains have become hearses, and the city is under quarantine. Enter P.I. Michael Kelly, who’s intent on discovering the bad guys seeking to bring down his city. A multiple Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee, Harvey has done nicely with three preceding Michael Kelly novels. Good for thriller fans; with a 35,000-copy first printing.

Hoffman, Paul. The Last Four Things. Dutton. Aug. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780525952183. $25.95. Digital: Penguin Audio.
The last four things? First death, then judgment, then heaven or hell. And that’s what the warrior-monks called the Redeemers are anticipating, as they train a horde of child slaves for a battle meant to bring about the end ofhoffman1 Fiction humankind. Thomas Cale was their protégé, but in The Left Hand of God, the first book in this trilogy, he escaped. Now he’s suffered the fate of every teenager‚ a broken heart‚ while wrestling with a new-found talent for violence. And, yes, the Redeemers still have use for him. The first in the series, much touted and an international best seller, was hot here if not quite as a hot here as expected; buy if the first one did well for you.

Lippman, Laura. The Most Dangerous Thing. Morrow. Aug. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780061706516. $NA.
Best friends who grew apart as they grew up reunite when one of them, the guy who never made good, ups and dies. No surprises there‚ except that the friends shared a nasty secret that someone has obviously spilled. And with Lippman at the helm, turning in a standalone, this should be absorbing indeed.

My Pick
Matar, Hisham. Anatomy of a Disappearance. Dial. Jun. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9780385340441. $22; eISBN 978-0-679-64398-2.
Matar’s debut novel, In the Country of Men, won six international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Europe and South Asia) for Best First Novel and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It was also a finalist for the Man Booker, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Guardian First Book Award. Oh, and I found it searing, evocative, and original, blasting away all my defenses. Here is Matar’s second work, featuring an 11-year-old born in exile after his parents flee revolutionary upheaval in their country. After his mother dies, Nuri and his father become entranced with half-English, half-Arab Mona when they spy her in a yellow bathing suit by the hotel swimming pool. Obviously, there will be complications, even tragedy. First serial rights were sold to The New Yorker. Get it.

Millhauser, Steven. We Others: New and Selected Stories. Knopf. Aug. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780307595904. $27.95; eISBN 9780307701435.
Selected stories ranging across three decades plus new works like the novella-length title story: this is a good mix for anyone who wants to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Pulitzer Prize winner Millhauser. You can visit 19th-century Vienna or contemporary Connecticut in the company of ghosts, knife throwers, and cartoon cats. For literate readers everywhere.

Otsuka, Julie. The Buddha in the Attic. Knopf. Aug. 2011. 144p. ISBN 9780307700001. $22; eISBN 9780307700469. CD: Random Audio.
In her widely admired debut novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, Otsuka portrayed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II through the story of one family. Here she retreats a few steps, following a group of Japanese women who travel to early 1900s San Francisco as mail-order brides. The book carries them from their tricky Pacific crossing through first-night jitters with their husbands to hard work, raising a family‚ and, eventually, World War II. Given the success of Emperor, it’s no surprise that this new work is getting a 75,000-copy first printing, a reading group guide, and a seven-city tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. I’m looking forward to this one.

Patterson, James & Marshall Karp. Kill Me If You Can. Little, Brown. Aug. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780316097543. $27.99. lrg, prnt. CD: Hachette Audio.
During an attack on Grand Central in New York, hard-up art student Matthew Bannon finds a bag containing $13 million worth of diamonds, so of course he takes it. (What’s wrong, he hasn’t read any thrillers about what happens to the guy who makes off with loot that isn’t his?) Soon he’s being trailed by the Ghost, an assassin who just rubbed out a high-ranking member of the Diamond Syndicate and was supposed to retrieve the gems. And he’s being trailed by a rival assassin. Another biggie from Patterson (and Karp, a producer also responsible for the Lomax and Biggs series). Interesting tidbit: Patterson was the first writer in the world to sell one million ebooks.

Pelecanos, George. The Cut. Regan Arthur Bks: Little, Brown. Aug. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780316078429. $25.99. CD: Hachette Audio.
Home from Iraq, Spero Lucas has been handling investigations for a defense attorney, specializing in stolen property. When a big-time crime boss asks him to find out who’s been pilfering from his operation, Lucas accepts‚ and get in over his head. Pelecanos introduces a new hero in a new series of interest to all thriller fans.

Reece, Gordon. Mice. Viking. Aug. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780670022847. $24.95. Digital: Penguin Audio.
“We were mice, after all. We weren’t looking for a home. We were looking for a place to hide. That’s Shelley speaking and, no, she’s not on the lam after committing a crime. She’s been mercilessly bullied at school, her mother has just been through a grueling divorce, and so they have fled, settling in a little cottage where they can hold each other, drink hot chocolate, and listen to Brahms. Then, just before Shelley turns 16, an unfortunate guest arrives at their door, and Shelley finally explodes. Debut novelist Reece, born in the U.K. and currently living in Australia, has published several illustrated children’s books but is now trying out adult fiction. This is getting a pretty big push from the publisher, and I’m intrigued.

Rotella, Sebastian. Triple Crossing. Mulholland Bks: Little, Brown. Aug. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780316105309. $24.99.
Valentine Pescatore, a rookie cop working the border in San Diego, is recruited by gorgeous U.S. agent Isabel Puente to infiltrate the Mexican crime family she’s got in her sights. It gets complicated when Valentine falls in love with Isabel while crossing swords with the head of Tijuana’s anti-corruption unit. Since investigative reporter Rotella has spent the last 23 years covering terrorism, organized crime, and homeland security for the Los Angeles Times, the details in his first novel should be vivid and accurate.

Swierczynski, Duane. Hell and Gone. Mulholland Bks: Little, Brown. Aug. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780316133296. pap. $14.99.
Well, bam, bam, bam. In Fun and Games, publishing in June, ex-cop Charlie Hardie is so done in by the revenge killing of his partner’s family that he opts to house-sit‚ and ends up fighting a nasty crew of assassins. In the current title, Charlie finds himself at a secret facility where crazed killers can be studied‚ and he’s the warden. Next up in this trilogy: Point and Shoot, ready in September 2011. Note that Swierczynski is a regular contributor to Marvel Comics and that this is being pitched not only to action lovers but to comic book fans. Sounds like fun and games gone slightly to hell, so point your out-there thriller readers in this direction.

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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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