Fiction Reviews | July 2013

eleven days Fiction Reviews | July 2013OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Carpenter, Lea. Eleven Days. Knopf. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780307960702. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307960719. F

Debut novelist Carpenter, a founding editor of Zoetrope and a former deputy publisher of the Paris Review, tells the story of Sara, a devoted single mother whose son Jason has gone missing after a Navy SEAL operation in early May 2011. (Tellingly, though the raid occurred at that time, bin Laden’s name is never mentioned in this suspenseful novel.) Jason’s enigmatic father, a supposed Washington insider and older man, disappeared from the family years ago, and so Sara must cope alone. Through her recollections, Sara reveals how Jason chose and then qualified for the arduous path of special ops warfare. Not an exercise in simplistic flag-waving, Carpenter’s engrossing, rather somber novel keenly examines an elite contemporary warrior class. VERDICT A powerful first novel and inside look into the making of a Navy SEAL and a portrait of the strength and courage of both mother and son. Highly recommended.—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Kent, Hannah. Burial Rites. Little, Brown. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780316243919. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316243902. F

Australian writer Kent marks her literary debut with a retelling of real-life events from 1828, Iceland, when Agnes Magnusdottir and two others are convicted and sentenced to death in a brutal double murder thought to have been motivated by greed and jealousy. The murderers were servants, assistants, and sometime lovers to one of the victims, wealthy and well-known herbalist and healer Natan Ketilsson. As Iceland’s primitive prison system is ill equipped to house death row inmates, a local farm family is prevailed upon to board Agnes until the date of her execution. They are also expected to extend hospitality to the Assistant Reverend Thorvardur (Toti) Jonsson, whom Agnes chooses as a spiritual adviser. Over many chilly months, with Agnes working alongside the farmer’s wife and daughters in their fields and close living quarters, her version of events emerges. As her story unfolds, her hosts’ fear and loathing turn to empathy and understanding. VERDICT In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain, this compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/13.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Marwood, Alex. The Wicked Girls. Penguin Group (USA). Aug. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780143123866. pap. $16. F

Marwood’s riveting debut novel explores how a single act of violence committed by two 11-year-old girls not only shadows the rest of their lives but also connects them to a series of killings at a seaside vacation community years later. It’s been 25 years since Jade Walker and Annabel Oldacre were convicted of murder, and their lives have taken dramatically different turns. Jade, now known as Kirsty, is a journalist with a dedicated husband and two children. Bel, now called Amber, supervises the evening cleaning shift at an amusement park on the boardwalk in Whitmouth. When young women begin to turn up dead in Whitmouth, Kirsty and Amber reconnect by chance. The rash of killings threatens to expose their carefully guarded secrets—and for one of them, these new murders hit very close to home. VERDICT Marwood has written a terrific thriller, full of dark turns and dread, and the twisty ending will stick with readers long after they finish the book. Fans of intelligent page-turners by such authors as Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn will snatch this one up. [This title is a 2013 Thriller Award nominee for Best Paperback Original Novel.—Ed.]—Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins


The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Abbott, Jeff. Downfall. Grand Central. Jul. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9781455528431. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781455528417. F

Barnhardt, Wilton. Lookaway, Lookaway. St. Martin’s. Aug. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250020833. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250021502. F

Butler, Sarah. Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781594205330. $26.95. F

Clark, Janice. The Rathbones. Doubleday. Aug. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780385536936. $26.95. F

Irwin, Michael. The Skull and the Nightingale. Morrow. Aug. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780062202352. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062202376. F

Jacobson, Howard. Who’s Sorry Now? Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781608196869. pap. $16. F

Kent, Kathleen. The Outcasts. Little, Brown. Oct. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780316206129. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316239882. F

Lancet, Barry. Japantown. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781451691696. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451691719. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Lethem, Jonathan. Dissident Gardens. Doubleday. Sept. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780385534932. $27.95. F

Mansbach, Adam. The Dead Run. Voyager: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780062199652. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199676. F

Moriarty, Liane. The Husband’s Secret. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Aug. 2013. 416p.ISBN 9780399159343. $25.95. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Mott, Jason. The Returned. Mira: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780778315339. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781459236639. F

Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings Bad Kings. Algonquin. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781616202637. $23.95. F

Pötzsch, Oliver. The Ludwig Conspiracy. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2013. 448p. tr. from German by Anthea Bell. ISBN 9780547740102. $26. F

Rakoff, David. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish. Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 128p. illus. ISBN 9780385535212. $26.95. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Rollins, James. The Eye of God: A Sigma Force Thriller. Morrow. Jul. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780061784804. $27.99 F

Schine, Cathleen. Fin & Lady. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780374154905. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781466837089. F

Tanenbaum, Robert K. Tragic. Gallery: S. & S. Aug. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781451635553. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451635607. F

Taylor, Brad. The Widow’s Strike: A Pike Logan Thriller. Dutton. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780525953111. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101624272. F

Turgeon, Carolyn. The Fairest of Them All. Touchstone: S. & S. Aug. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781451683783. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781451683790. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Vann, David. Goat Mountain. Harper: HarperCollins. Sept. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780062121097. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062121110. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013Vásquez, Juan Gabriel. The Sound of Things Falling. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Aug. 2013. 288p. tr. from Spanish by Anne McLean. ISBN 9781594487484. $26.95. F

Weyer, Hannah. On the Come Up: A Novel, Based on a True Story. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780385537322. $25.95. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | July 2013 Willig, Lauren. The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: A Pink Carnation Novel. NAL: Penguin Group (USA). Aug. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780451414724. pap. $15. F

Yarbrough, Steve. The Realm of Last Chances. Knopf. Aug. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780385349505. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385349512. F

SHORT STORIES

Cooke, Carolyn. Amor and Psycho: Stories. Knopf. Aug. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780307594747. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962133. F

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