Fiction

My Pick
Ha Jin. Nanjing Requiem. Pantheon. Oct. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780307379764. $25.95; eISBN 9780307381019.
In 1937, as the Japanese were preparing to invade Nanjing, American missionary Minnie Vautrin stuck to her post as dean of Jinling Women’s College, naively assuming that she could use her nationality to protect herself and her students and colleagues from harm. Now the college is a refugee camp swarming with 10,000 people, which Minnie tries to manage while mourning those she cannot save. Since Ha Jin won the National Book Award for Waiting, his writing keeps opening up like a big, beautiful fan; this book sounds as far-reaching as anything he has ever written. And even bolder about looking into last century’s heart of darkness. Essential where good literature is read.

Coes, Ben. Coup d’Etat. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2011. 464p. ISBN 9780312580766. $25.99.
A former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, Coes snared thriller readers with his tough and bloody Power Down. They’ll be waiting for his new title, featuring Power protagonist Dewey Andreas, who goes looking for a little peace and quiet in Australia and instead finds assassins on his tail. He also gets a request to stage a coup that will unseat the new Pakistani president, an extremist cleric who’s picking a fight with India. So what else is new? For all slam-bang lovers.

Connolly, John. The Infernals. Atria: S. & S. Oct. 2011. ISBN 9781451643084. $22.
The demon Mrs. Abernathy is ready to kill a poor lad named Samuel Johnson because he helped scotch the invasion of Earth by evil forces. So Sam’s on the run with Boswell, his devoted dachshund, but they get yanked through a portal and find themselves in one dark and dangerous place. The popular Connolly always did have a taste for wicked whimsy.

Evans, Richard Paul. Lost December. S. & S. Oct. 2011. 272p. ISBN 9781451628005. $19.99.
No word yet on the plot of Evans’s new novel, but the title and the timing suggest that it fits into the series of Christmas tales Evans has been spinning since the mid-1990s. I’ll keep you posted, though of course you are already ordering multiples.

Fletcher, Martin. The List. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780312606923. $25.99.
NBC special correspondent Fletcher has a bushel of Emmys and Overseas Press Club awards to his name and a Jewish National Book Award for his nonfiction Walking Israel. Now he takes the leap to fiction with a novel set in the post‚ World War II era and drawing on his own family history. Despite sobering revelations regarding the death camps, enough anti-Semitism is sweeping London to send Austrian refugees Edith and Georg to Palestine, where more trouble awaits them. Should have an audience, provided Fletcher’s obvious journalistic skills translate to fiction; with a national tour.

Flynn, Vince. Untitled. Atria: S. & S. Oct. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9781416595205. $27.99.
Mitch Rapp is back, and he’s hunting down the terrorists responsible for the Pan Am Lockerbie tragedy. Expect the usual Flynn thrills.

Hoffman, Alice. The Dovekeepers. Scribner. Oct. 2011. 512p. ISBN 9781451617474. $27.99. CD: S. & S. Audio.
Hoffman departs from offbeat fantasy to retell the story of the Romans’ siege of Masada in 70 CE, during which all but a handful of the 900 Jewish defenders were slaughtered. The story unfolds through the voices of four women: Yael, daughter of an assassin; Revka, determined to protect her grandsons; the warrior Aziza; and her mother, a woman of mysterious powers. If these sound like types, note that Hoffman spent five years researching the book, and the publisher is pushing it as her Beloved. You didn’t know Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent was going to be so hot either.

Homer. The Iliad. Free Pr: S. & S. Oct. 2011. 544p. ISBN 9781439163375. $35.
Lots of translations of The Iliad out there, but I’m honor-bound to mention this new one by Stephen Mitchell, who’s obviously a whiz with ancient language. His translations have ranged from Tao Te Ching and Gilgamesh to The Book of Job and Bhagavad Gita. Those renderings have all sold well, so watch how this one does.

Hopkins, Ellen. Triangles. Atria: S. & S. Oct. 2011. 544p. ISBN 9781451626339. $26.
Three women gate-crash middle age with some interesting consequences. Stay-at-home Holly loses 60 pounds and enters into wild extramarital sex, while celibate single mom Andrea watches on somewhat scornfully, somewhat longingly. Marissa worries over her gay son, terminally ill daughter, and in-denial husband. Something big is going to happen here, but what? From the author of the hugely best-selling YA trilogy, Cranks.

Johansen, Iris. Bonnie. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780312651220. $27.99.
Johansen wraps up the trilogy begun with Eve and then Quinn, finally revealing whatbonnie Fiction happened to Eve Duncan’s long-lost daughter, Bonnie. Every thriller reader will want. With a one-day laydown on October 18; buy multiples.

Lindqvist, John Ajvide. Harbor. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2011. 512p. ISBN 9780312680275. $25.99.
Lindqvist has a nice track record. His previous title, Let the Right One In, has been made into two films, one Swedish and one American (called Let Me Be), with the Swedish version winning awards at 16 film festivals worldwide. The backlist paperback is one of the publisher’s biggest sellers. The new novel sounds good and chilly. A six-year-old girl crosses the ice with her parents to visit a lighthouse and promptly vanishes, with nary a footprint etched in the surrounding whiteness. Two years later, her father returns to the area and finds a surprising secretiveness about what happened. Watch this one; Lindqvist has fans, and this sounds like a taut and cleansing thriller.

McCall Smith, Alexander. The Forgotten Affairs of Youth: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel. Pantheon. Oct. 2011. 272p. ISBN 9780307379184. $24.95; eISBN 9780307906793.
An Australian philosopher on sabbatical in Edinburgh, Jane asks her friend Isabel to help track down her biological father, once a student in Edinburgh. Isabel is glad to help, even though she’s juggling concern for her kite-loving young son and her perennial fiancé, Jamie. McCall Smith is beloved, but he writes so much I wonder if his welcome‚ and his talent‚ is wearing thin.

Melton, Patrick & Marcus Dunstan with Stephen Romano. Black Light. Mulholland Bks: Little, Brown. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780316196710. $25.99.
Having psychic abilities sure helps private investigator Buck Carlsbad, though they haven’t yet led him to the spirits of his parents, murdered when he was a child. Then one of those out-of-the-spotlight billionaires often found in thrillers shows up with a dangerous request. Melton and Dunstan are the guys who gave us the blockbuster Saw films (author/screenwriter Romano is lending a helping hand), so expect to be scared.

Patterson, James & Richard DiLallo. The Christmas Wedding. Little, Brown. Oct. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780316097390. $25.99. CD: Hachette Audio.
Patterson writes a Christmas novel? In fact, Gaby Summerhill is planning to get married on Christmas, and her children, who haven’t celebrated the holidays together since their father’s death five years previously, will have to wait until the big day to find out who the lucky guy is. Will this work? Maybe. Will everyone want to read? Yes.

Sierra, Javier. The Lost Angel. Atria: S. & S. Oct. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9781416595205. $25.99.
Middle Eastern terrorists who think they’re angels plan to blow the entire world sky-high, and their plan hinges on kidnapping an American scientist who possesses a pair of ancient stones said to have remarkable power: they allow you to talk with God. Only the scientist’s wife can save him; she has psychic power over the stones. Sounds complicated, but if you loved the author’s The Secret Supper you’ll probably love this, too.

VanLiere, Donna. The Christmas Note. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780312658960. $14.99.
Melissa, a nondescript young woman living in the apartment next to Gretchen McCray, needs help cleaning out the family home when her mother dies. So Gretchen volunteers‚ and finds that Melissa really needs help, because an unfinished note indicates that Melissa has a brother and sister she never knew about. Next in the author’s perennially popular Christmas Hope series and a sure bet wherever the series is popular.

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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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