TOP COMMERCIAL FICTION
Bruen, Ken. Purgatory. Mysterious Pr: Grove/Atlantic. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780802126078. $24. CD: HighBridge Audio. MYSTERY
Nine previous titles, a Shamus Award, two feature films, and now this: even as he struggles to maintain his hard-won stability, former cop Jack Taylor must face a vigilante killer wiping out the bad guys of Galway and leaving little missives to Jack signed C 33. Bruen’s doctorate in metaphysics adds depth.
Cornwell, Patricia. Dust. Putnam. Nov. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780399157578. $28.95. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Home in Cambridge, MA, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta must deal with the murder of a female grad student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose body is found wrapped in linen and carefully posed on the rugby field. Strange how this case resembles one that Scarpetta’s FBI husband is handling in Washington, DC.
Cussler, Clive with Jack Du Brul. Mirage. Putnam. Nov. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780399158087. $27.95. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rumor says that a weapon out there somewhere can obliterate American aircraft carriers—just as U.S. Navy experiments with electromagnetic radiation reputedly obliterated a U.S. destroyer in 1943. Could the new weapon be linked to the work of Nikola Tesla, and what is Juan Cabrillo doing about it? Cussler launched his career 40 years ago with The Mediterranean Caper , which appears in hardcover this summer for the first time.
Evanovich, Janet. Untitled Plum #20. Bantam. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780345542885. $28. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
No word yet on plot, but aside from almost criminally popular bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, all the Plum stalwarts are back. Look for a huge marketing campaign with some new tricks; Bantam has rights for the next three books starring Plum and will work to make her even bigger, if that’s possible.
Goldman, William (text) & Michael Manomivibul (illus.). The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780544173767. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544177222. POP FICTION
First a 1973 novel by Goldman, then a 1987 film directed and coproduced by Rob Reiner with a screenplay by Goldman, The Princess Bride is a true cult phenomenon; the Facebook fan site boasts 2.3 million fans. Now, to celebrate the book’s 40th anniversary, fantasy artist Manomivibul enhances the text with his own mood-inducing visuals. With a 35,000-copy first printing and really buzzing on the blogs.
Littell, Robert. A Nasty Piece of Work. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781250021458. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022806. MYSTERY
Working as a private investigator in New Mexico, former CIA agent Lemuel Gunn agrees to look for Emilio Gava, who jumped bail after being arrested for buying cocaine. But he has no picture of Gava and begins wondering whether the man even exists. Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Littell here sidesteps from espionage to mystery.
Locke, Kate. Long Live the Queen. Orbit: Hachette. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780316196147. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780316196147; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316402200. STEAMPUNK/FANTASY
Locke really started something with God Save the Queen , a steampunk saga with Queen Victoria still alive today and ruling as part of a vampire aristocracy. In this wrap-up to the trilogy, heroine Xandra Vardan finds that being crowned goblin queen has not made her life any easier. With a 35,000-copy first printing.
McCall Smith, Alexander. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Pantheon. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780307378415. $24.95. MYSTERY
Mma Ramotswe is back, investigating a series of curious incidents that seem designed to put the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon out of business. No. 14 for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; with a reading group guide and a ten-city tour.
McCullough, Colleen. Sins of the Flesh. S. & S. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476735337. $26. MYSTERY
Summertime is not so easy in 1969 Holloman, CT, as Capt. Carmine Delmonico returns from vacation to find he must hunt for a killer whose victims turn up emaciated and emasculated. Then murder of a different sort occurs, and Delmonico has two chaotic cases to handle. McCullough’s pleasing series continues.
Martin, George R.R. (text) with Daniel Abraham (adaptation) & Tommy Patterson (illus.). A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel. Vol. 3. Bantam. Nov. 2013. 160p. ISBN 9780440423232. $25. FANTASY/GRAPHIC NOVEL
No need to explain the allure of Martin’s A Game of Thrones and no need to tell you that it has been adapted as a graphic novel; this is the third volume. Here, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell faces enemies known and unknown.
Meacham, Leila. Somerset. Grand Central. Nov. 2013. 624p. ISBN 9781455547388. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455547371. CD: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL/POP FICTION
This prequel to Meacham’s best-selling debut, Roses , offers 150 years’ worth of Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts. Bereft of his inheritance, Simon Toliver leaves South Carolina’s Plantation Alley and strikes out with friend Jeremy Warwick for a new territory: Texas. With a 100,000-copy first printing.
Palliser, Charles. Rustication. Norton. Nov. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780393088724. $25.95.HISTORICAL/LITERARY
Fans hooked on Palliser’s writing since his engrossing puzzle-box debut, The Quincunx , will be delighted to learn that he has returned to mid-1800s England, where Richard Shenstone has been sent down from Cambridge in uncertain disgrace. Living with his newly impoverished mother, he learns that creepy letters making the village rounds speak of wicked crimes, even murder.
Rendell, Ruth. No Man’s Nightingale: An Inspector Wexford Novel. Scribner. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781476744483. $26. MYSTERY
Retired Chief Inspector Wexford decides to help out when a female vicar, Sarah Hussein, is found strangled in the nastiest way. At the scene of the crime, Wexford unthinkingly picks up a letter showing that she may have had a secret in her past.
Wilson, Robert Charles. Burning Paradise. Tor. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780765332615. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466800762. SF
It’s 2015, and Cassie Klyne is living in a world that has not seen war since 1918. But Cassie knows that this benign state of affairs has been engineered by extraterrestrials using humans for their own purposes and that her parents were killed for knowing this secret. Hugo Award winner Wilson scares us again.
Davis, Wes. The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War To Rescue Crete from the Nazis. Crown. Nov. 2013.304p. ISBN 9780307460134. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307460158. HISTORY
History both crucial and swashbuckling: an odd bunch of British intelligence officers joined with Cretan resistance fighters and an American avenging his father’s murder to keep German forces from occupying Crete—truly important, for otherwise Germany would have been able to dominate the Middle East. Journalist/former assistant English professor Davis worked for two years at excavations on Crete.
Drury, Bob & Tom Clavin. The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend. S. & S. Nov. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781451654660. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781451654707. BIOGRAPHY
The New York Times best-selling coauthors have an intriguing subject in Oglala Sioux chief Red Cloud—the only Plains Indian to defeat the U.S. Army in war. Among the resources they use to help polish our memory of Red Cloud, now somewhat faded, is an autobiography lost for more than 100 years.
Hill, Clint & Lisa McCubbin. Five Days in November. Gallery: S. & S. Nov. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781476731490. $27. BIOGRAPHY
As Jacqueline Kennedy’s secret service guard, Hill leapt onto the car in Dallas after shots resounded and hung on for the race to the hospital. Here he offers a minute-by-minute insider’s account of unfolding events. Interest is building; note that Hill has also authored the best-selling Mrs. Kennedy and Me .
Lethbridge, Lucy. Servants: A Downstairs of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times. Norton.Nov. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780393241099. $27.95. HISTORY
Not just for Downton fans: here is an account of the servant’s life in Britain from Edwardian times until now, from the grandest estates to the middle-class household happy to show that they can afford help—if only just one maid.
Matthews, Chris. Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. S. & S. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781451695991. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781451696011. BIOGRAPHY
The subtitle is certainly telling. Matthews, Tip O’Neill’s former chief of staff for six years and now seen on the NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show , portrays a civilized friendship between O’Neill and President Reagan even though their politics could not have been more different.
Orfalea, Gregory. Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra’s Dream and the Founding of California. Scribner. Nov. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781451642728. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451642759. HISTORY
Though little known, Junipero Serra had a huge impact on this country’s development, having led efforts to establish Catholic mission churches throughout California. PEN finalist Orfalea did research in multiple languages on two continents to tell Serra’s story.
Richie, Alexandra. Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising. Farrar. Nov. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780374286552. $28. HISTORY
With the Allies starting to win the war and the Red Army in particular driving German troops back west, the underground Polish Home Army decided it was time to expel the enemy from Warsaw. Thus was launched the extraordinary Warsaw Uprising, which for reasons detailed here failed tragically after 63 days.
Riffenburgh, Beau. Pinkerton’s Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland. Viking. Nov. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780670025466. $32.95. BIOGRAPHY
Riffenburgh, who has a Ph.D. in history from Cambridge, hotfoots it over to America to write about the Pinkerton National Detective Agency’s most celebrated agent, James McParland, who took on the Molly Maguires, Butch Cassidy, and more.
Tobin, James. The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio To Win the Presidency. S. & S. Nov. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780743265157. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781451698671. BIOGRAPHY
Franklin Delano Roosevelt demonstrated true grit in his battle with polio, which National Book Critics Circle award winner Tobin argues was the transformative experience that made him the statesman he was.
My fiction Picks
Faulks, Sebastian. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781250047595. $24.99. POP FICTION
What a combination! Faulks, author of absorbingly well-rendered best sellers like Charlotte Gray, as well as the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, here takes on one of his favorite authors with the permission of the estate. Yes, P.G. Wodehouse’s debonair Bertie Wooster and redoubtable butler Jeeves are back, with Bertie downcast because Georgina Meadowes is marrying someone else. His promise to help friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching with his own star-crossed romance leads to Jeeves’s impersonating a lord and Bertie acting as manservant, all in the vicinity of the doubtless puzzled Georgina. Just announced; this ought to be laugh-out-loud funny.
Flagg, Fannie. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. Random. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781400065943. $27; lrg. prnt. ebk. ISBN 9781400065943. POP FICTION
Not surprisingly, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes revisits the South, but her novel takes in a larger swath of territory, ranging from Wisconsin to Texas. Flagg’s heroine, from present-day Alabama, is intrigued by the story of five women working at a Phillips 66 gas station in 1943, just as Flagg was intrigued by the story of women who ran a gas station and flew in the WASPs during the war. Fans will be waiting; Flagg’s latest, I Still Dream About You, sold over 500,000 copies across formats. Billed as a comic mystery, and note the author tour to Fairhope (AL), Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville, Nashville, Bowling Green, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.
Kadrey, Richard. Dead Set. Harper Voyager: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062283016. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062283023. FANTASY
New York Times best-selling author Kadrey, soon to be a guest of honor at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2013, takes a break from his Sandman Slim novels with this story of Zoe, bereft after her father’s death and a move to the Big City with her mother. For solace, she escapes to a dreamscape where she can visit her lost brother, though the atmosphere is subtly disturbed by a new, unseen presence. Then, at a used record store, she discovers vinyl discs whose grooves hold not music but lost souls and realizes that she might be able to reach her father. It will cost her, though. Stop by to hear Kadrey speak at a United for Libraries panel at ALA; with a 75,000-copy first printing.
Lamb, Wally. We Are Water. Harper: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780061941023. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199027. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION
You can’t get much more affecting than two-time Oprah pick author Lamb, and here he nicely nails the zeitgeist with the story of outsider artist Anna Oh, long married and the mother of three, who leaves her husband to marry her polished Manhattan art dealer, Vivica. With the approach of the wedding—set in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized—painful family issues boil to the surface. Anna, former husband Orion, and the children tell the story in alternating voices. With a one-day laydown on October 29, a 500,000-copy first printing, and a ten-city tour to Boston, Connecticut, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
Setterfield, Diane. Bellman & Black. Emily Bestler: Atria. Nov. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781476711959. $22. LITERARY
As a child, William Bellman nastily kills a bird with a slingshot but doesn’t suffer the consequences until decades later when all his good fortune starts crumbling away. Soon, a black-garbed stranger arrives, and William finds that he can save what little he has left if he agrees to enter into the spooky business concern that becomes Bellman & Black. You expected something lighthearted after the dark and intriguing knottiness of Setterfield’s No. 1 New York Times best seller, The Thirteenth Tale? Lots of anticipation; over 800 folks have already proclaimed their interest on Goodreads.
Shreve, Anita. Stella Bain. Little, Brown. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780316098861. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316215442. CD: Hachette Audio.HISTORICAL/POP FICTION
Shreve, who handles contemporary and historical fiction with equal grace, here takes us to World War I London for a probing psychological drama. An American woman named Stella Bain, found shell-shocked in a garden, is kindly taken in by surgeon August Bridge and his wife. They soon learn that she was working as a nurse’s aide at the front but has no memory of her life before being discovered wounded on the battlefield. Perennial best seller Shreve—more than 12 million copies of her novels have been sold in the United States alone—catches our interest with a story of love, memory, and a war now much on our minds.
Stone, Robert. Death of the Black-Haired Girl. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780618386239. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780547760384. LITERARY
Stone, who can work on a global scale—think Dog Soldiers or Damascus Gate—here presents a more intimate but still deeply explosive story. Steven Brookman, a married professor at a prestigious New England college, decides to end his risky affair with brilliant, wayward student Maud Stack. Maud will have none of it, however, and the moral issues that arise are less clear-cut than they seem. I’ve just started reading this one, and already I’m hooked; with a 50,000-copy first printing.