Allen, Sarah Addison. First Frost. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781250019837. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019844. WOMEN’S FICTION
Continuing the magic she conjured in Garden Spells, New York Times best-selling author Allen opens ten years after the events in that book, when Claire Waverley met Tyler and adjusted to the reappearance of outrageous half-sister Sydney. Now Claire is married to Tyler and adjusting to the reappearance of her father, who comes bearing unwanted news. With a one-day laydown and a reading group guide.
Booth, Michael. The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. Picador. Jan. 2015. 448p. ISBN 9781250061966. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250061973. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Why are the highly taxed Danes so happy? Is the Finnish school system really so hot? What’s the beef other Scandinavians have with the Swedes? These are the questions journalist Booth asked himself as he traveled through the five Nordic countries, puzzled after living more than a decade in Denmark by the uniformly glowing press that Scandinavia now gets. He clarifies why these countries are seen as models while also showing their dark side, including parochialism and all sorts of extremists. There’s much to learn, but the book is also “strenuously humorous” (the Guardian).
Fuller, Alexandra. Leaving Before the Rains Come. Penguin Pr. Jan. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781594205866. $26.95. MEMOIR
In books like her award-winning debut, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller gives us an indelible portrait of Africa as it has defined her personal life, beginning with her outrageous and larger-than-life parents. Here she continues in that vein, detailing the breakup of her marriage to an American she met in Zambia, where he ran a rafting business. After the wedding (dimmed by her having malaria), they moved to Wyoming and had three children. Fuller finally learns is that no one else can save you, but we’ll be reading as much for her reverberant language as for her lessons.
Horowitz, Anthony. Moriarty. Harper. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780062377180. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062377203. LITERARY/MYSTERY
Horowitz’s mystery bona fides are impeccable: not only did his previous Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk, sell over 450,000 copies worldwide in more than 35 countries, but as a television screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning (and trenchantly fabulous) Foyle’s War. Here he reimagines what happened after the presumably lethal scuffle between Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, as Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives on the Continent to join forces with Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones (first seen in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sign of Four”). With no Holmes about, they must find a way to deal with the evil that will surely arise to take Moriarty’s place. With a 75,000-copy first printing.
Judt, Tony. When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995–2010. Penguin Pr. Jan. 2015. 496p. ISBN 9781594206009. $35. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University, Judt was a major intellectual force whose books and essays shaped how we look at the world, and his death in 2010 was tragic. Reappraisals (2008), his first collection of essays, focused on 20th-century Europe and thus denied us some important pieces. Here, his widow, the historian Jennifer Homans, bring us more essays by framing this second collection as a showcase of how Judt’s thought evolved. The work on Israel and Palestine are of special interest, but the whole book will keep those hungry for a larger world view reading into the night.
Morris, David J. The Evil Hours: A Biography of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Eamon Dolan: Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780544086616. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544084490. PSYCHOLOGY/PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
Though its incidence among combat veterans has brought posttraumatic stress disorder to the fore, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that in fact one in every 30 American adults suffers from the disorder. Morris, a war correspondent whose work will be familiar to readers of The New Yorker and Slate, is also a former marine infantry officer with PTSD. Here he blends his own experiences with scientific and cultural assessments and numerous interviews with other sufferers to present a big-picture view of PTSD.
O’Nan, Stewart. West of Sunset. Viking. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780670785957. $27.95. LITERARY FICTION
This novel is set in late 1930s Hollywood and features a cast of characters ranging from Dorothy Parker to Ernest Hemingway to Humphrey Bogart, but its raison d’être is F. Scott Fitzgerald. O’Nan isn’t giving us golden-boy Fitzgerald but Fitzgerald at the end of the line, trying to reinvent himself as a screenwriter even as his literary reputation fades and Zelda remains in an asylum. Meanwhile, he was writing The Last Tycoon. Sounds like the kind of atmospheric study of on-the-edge characters that the highly regarded O’Nan pulls off so well. With an eight-city tour.
Sternbergh, Adam. Near Enemy: A Spademan Novel. Crown. Jan. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780385349024. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780385349031. Downloadable: Random Audio. MYSTERY
Culture editor of the New York Times Magazine, Sternbergh triumphed with his debut novel, Shovel Ready, which stars a hit man in a futuristic post-apocalyptic New York City. In this second novel, Spademan has been tasked with knocking off sleazy sleep-about Lesser, who has enemies everywhere. But Lesser has learned a dangerous secret—terrorists have found a way to infiltrate the virtual reality that serves as an escape for those who can afford it—and Spademan is compelled to put his plans on hold. Sternbergh is an adept promoter, and Warner Brothers is already developing Shovel Ready for Denzel Washington, so expect to hear lots about this book.