Child, Lee. Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel. Delacorte. Sept. 2014. 368p. ISBN . $28; ebk. ISBN 9780804178761. F
In Child’s 19th Jack Reacher novel (after Never Go Back), our loner protagonist is on a bus nearing Seattle when he picks up a copy of the Army Times newspaper that contains an ad asking him to contact Rick Schroeder, an old army connection. Paired with rookie Casey Nice from the Special Forces, Reacher is sent on a mission to find the sniper who tried to kill the French president with a rifle shot from three-quarters of a mile away. Their mission takes them to England with multiple suspects in mind. But Jack is watching someone with a personal grudge against him, an American marksman named John Kott. At the same time, being undercover avails them little government help. Casey’s personal demons and Jack’s memory of another young agent’s death make this a taut and relentless suspense story. VERDICT Longtime fans won’t be disappointed by this suspense-filled, riveting thriller. Those readers who haven’t experienced this irresistible series should definitely start at the beginning and catch up to this book.
Kelly, Erin. Broadchurch. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781250055507. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466858510. F
The seaside town of Broadchurch is rocked by the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer, a child well known in the community and a close friend to the children of DI Elly Miller. The case is sad and painful for all. Elly and her new boss DS Alec Hardy are not the closest of colleagues at the moment, and the friction between them hampers their interviews and complicates the investigation. She’s been passed over for his position and he’s licking his wounds from a spectacular failure on his last case. Police resources are stretched thin by the magnitude of the investigation and the press has pounced upon the case. As layers of evidence are revealed, everyone in town becomes a suspect and dark, painful secrets are revealed. The shocking climax rattles the careers of both Elly and Alec and changes the idyllic life in Broadchurch forever. VERDICT Based upon the screenplay by Chris Chibnall for the hugely popular British TV series and timed for the fall 2014 rollout of the U.S. version, Gracepoint, on FOX TV, this unusual novelization by an accomplished author (The Burning Air; The Poison Tree) is a surprisingly well-written and solid thriller. Complex and suspenseful, it stands well on its own and will certainly provide buzz for the upcoming local TV series. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick’s “Pushing Boundaries” Mystery Genre Spotlight feature, LJ 4/15/14.]
Ryan, Hank Phillippi. Truth Be Told: A Jane Ryland Novel. Forge. Oct. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780765374936. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765374974. F
Boston’s Register news reporter Jane Ryland is covering a human interest foreclosure story when she stumbles onto several murders committed in recently foreclosed homes. Investigating further, Jane becomes entangled in one dangerous situation after another. In the meantime, the reporter’s clandestine love interest, Boston police detective Jake Brogan, is actively pursuing answers to a 20-year-old unsolved murder. The cold case turns personal as Jake consults case files written by his deceased grandfather, a former police commissioner, to determine if the individual confessing to the crime is truly the killer. As Jane and Jake each gets closer to the truth, they find their lives and their romantic connection precariously hanging in the balance. Danger and intrigue surround them both as they desperately seek closure. VERDICT The third entry in the “Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan” series (The Other Woman; The Wrong Girl) packs a powerful punch, and offers a clever mix of mystery, corruption, and romance. Mystery enthusiasts will want to drop everything and binge-read until the mind-boggling conclusion. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.]
Debut Fiction 9/1/14
Adcock, Siobhan. The Barter. Dutton
Harrison, Mette Ivie. The Bishop’s Wife. Soho Crime
Hayes, Frank. Death at the Black Bull: A Sheriff Virgil Dalton Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime
Hulse, S.M. Black River. Houghton Harcourt
Kennedy, E.E. Murder in the Past Tense: A Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery. Sheaf House
Koenig, Minerva. Nine Days. Minotaur: St. Martin’s.
Marshall, Peyton. Goodhouse. Farrar
Noxon, Christopher. Plus One. Prospect Park
Parks, Carrie Stuart. A Cry from the Dust. Thomas Nelson
Timmer, Julie Lawson. Five Days Left. Amy Einhorn: Putnam
Vaillant, John. The Jaguar’s Children. Houghton Harcourt
Wydick, Bruce. The Taste of Many Mountains. Thomas Nelson
Zamorano, Désireé. The Amado Women. Cinco Puntos
Tel Aviv Stories
Oria, Shelly. New York 1, Tel Aviv 0. Farrar. Nov. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780374534578. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9780374711757. f
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Israel, Oria gives her first story collection a sharp edge, subtle humor, and a distinctive contemporary voice. One of the strongest pieces, “The Thing About Sophia,” is told by a cast-off girlfriend of a charming female narcissist. The title is repeated like a mantra, so that the reader learns at least ten things about Sophia that make her both difficult and alluring and sees the speaker’s escalating anger and regret as each item is added to the list. Like many contemporary writers, Oria offers an important perspective on coinciding cultures and languages, examining the rifts between children and parents separated by an ocean (“The Disneyland of Albany”) and the displacements of characters who move quickly from mandatory military service in Israel to la vie bohème in lower Manhattan. Sometimes we even see those rifts and ruptures beginning to heal. VERDICT An engaging first story collection from a promising young author who deserves a wide readership.
Tel Aviv Noir. Akashic. (Noir). Oct. 2014. 285p. ed. by Etgar Keret & Assaf Gavron. ISBN 9781617753152. $26.95; pap. ISBN 9781617751547. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617753350. F
Since the start, Akashic’s short story series has been a classy enterprise, specializing in crime noir set in specific locations. The 66th volume may be the very best in a generally solid series. Edited by noted Israeli writers Keret (Suddenly, A Knock at the Door) and Gavron (Almost Dead), this collection runs the gamut from Lavie Tidhar’s fantasy of a detective who works in parallel worlds (“The Time-Slip Detective”) to Matan Hermoni’s “Women” about a writer who inherits a ghost and Deakla Keydar’s touching story (“Slow Cooking”) of an abandoned wife who finds purpose aiding African refugees who are worse off than she is. Shimon Adaf’s gnomic contribution, “My Father’s Kingdom,” is only nominally a detective tale. In it, a student becomes obsessed with the esoteric poems of a poet who committed suicide. It reads like Franz Kafka filtered through Jorge Louis Borges. Antonio Ungar’s “Säid the Good” tells a remorselessly unsentimental account of star-crossed lovers, vengeance, and death, and in the most conventional offering, Assaf Gavron’s “Center,” a PI tracks down a missing person by following the trail of his severed parts. VERDICT This collection escapes the limits of formula fiction and sets the bar high for subsequent “Noir” offerings. The genre is hot, Tel Aviv is exotic, and this volume is outstanding. What’s not to like? [Scribner is publishing Gavron’s Bernstein Award–winning The Hilltop in October.—Ed.]
The New Westerns
Bausch, Robert. Far as the Eye Can See. Bloomsbury USA. Nov. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781620402597. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620402610. F
Two time lines merge in Bausch’s latest novel: in 1876 Bobby Hale and a mixed-race woman named Diana, aka Ink, struggle to survive in the beautiful but unforgiving lands of Montana and the Dakota territories. The unlikely pair—Bobby shot Ink and nursed her back to health—are on the run from her warrior husband, the U.S. Army, and Native Americans. Flashback to 1869: at various turns a trapper, a scout, and a wagon-train leader, Civil War vet Bobby meets a number of folks—soldiers, settlers, native peoples—in his journey of survival and self-redemption. Bobby faces life and death judgments through both time lines. VERDICT With two novels selected as Washington Post favorites—A Hole in the Earth and Out of Season—Bausch (English, North Virginia Community Coll.) captures the immense measure of the American landscape in his descriptions of the western setting. While the flashback section plods along, once the 1876 trail is picked up again, the tension builds as Bobby and Ink find themselves witnesses to Custer’s Last Stand. Not to be missed by historical fiction fans. [For another fictional take on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, see also John Hough Jr.’s Little Big Horn.—Ed.]
Hulse, S.M. Black River. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780544309876. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780544309296. F
Claire Carver’s dying wish is that her husband play a song on his fiddle that she loves, one he wrote that evokes the mountainous surroundings of their Montana hometown. But Wes Carver has not been able to play the fiddle for 20 years. His hands are crippled, one of many cruel reminders of a prolonged episode of hideous torture at the hands of a convict during a prison riot. Wes, like many men in Black River, worked as a guard. After the riot, he and Claire left Black River. When Wes next returns there years later, numb, laconic, and angry, it is with his wife’s ashes in tow. Can he mend the broken relationship with his stepson? Can he withstand the parole hearing for the man who maimed him for life? Will he rekindle his lost Christian faith and find any kind of hope for a good life without his beloved Claire? VERDICT Heads up—Hulse is a smart writer, able to reveal her character’s gut-level emotions and trickiest self manipulations. Comparing the author to Annie Proulx, Wallace Stegner, or Kent Haruf is no exaggeration. Her debut is bound to turn readers’ hearts inside out and leave them yearning for some sweet, mournful fiddle music.
Land, Jon. Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel. Forge. Sept. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780765335111. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466821064. F
Don’t mess with the Texas Rangers, specifically Caitlin Strong. Land’s sixth series novel (after Strong Rain Falling) opens in 1883 Texas with a serial killer on the loose. Four Chinese women—brutally murdered, raped postmortem, and disfigured—are found separately along a railroad line under construction. The story line alternates between this investigation by Texas Ranger William Ray, Caitlin’s great-grandfather, and Caitlin’s present-day search for the murderer of Chinese women in the same manner and along the same rail line. Her investigation leads her to a Chinese CEO in Texas named Li Zhen who is on the verge of releasing a technology breakthrough, a 5G wireless network. While Li Zhen might have Homeland Security fooled, he isn’t fooling Caitlin. But if Caitlin doesn’t discover Li Zhen’s true plan in time, many more people in the United States will lose their lives. VERDICT This thriller reads like an old-fashioned Western in which the characters are larger than life, the fighting is fast and furious, and readers get to enjoy the entertaining roller-coaster ride. Recommend for high-action thriller fans, but readers with a Western bent will enjoy as well.
Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven. Knopf. Sept. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780385353304. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353311. F
Onstage at a Toronto theater, an aging movie star drops dead while performing the title role in King Lear. As the other cast members share a drink at the lobby bar before heading into the snowy night, none can know what horrors await them: “Of all of them at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.” The Shakespearean tragedy unfolds into a real-life calamity just before the entire world is overtaken by a catastrophic flu pandemic that will kill off the vast majority of the population. The narrative is organized around several figures present at the theater that night, and the tale travels back and forth in time, from the years before the pandemic through the following 20 years in a world without government, electricity, telecommunications, modern medicine, or transportation. In this lawless and dangerous new reality, a band of actors and musicians performs Shakespeare for the small communities that have come into existence in the otherwise abandoned landscape. In this unforgettable, haunting, and almost hallucinatory portrait of life at the edge, those who remain struggle to retain their basic humanity and make connections with the vanished world through art, memory, and remnants of popular culture. VERDICT This is a brilliantly constructed, highly literary, postapocalyptic page-turner, and should be a breakout novel for Mandel. [See Prepub Alert, 3/24/14.]
Marshall, Peyton. Goodhouse. Farrar. Oct. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780374165628. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374710156. F
Incarceration in the Goodhouse system is tough enough, but protagonist James is in a worse spot in Marshall’s debut novel. Goodhouse facilities are prison/reeducation camps for boys identified as having a genetic tendency toward violent behavior. But are they born criminals, or does the Goodhouse program make them violent? Life there is hard, with class leaders who keep positions through violence, experimental drug regimes, and roommates who report the tiniest infraction rather than risk the chance that they will be one of the few allowed to return to normal society. Now a religious extremist group, the Zeros, wants something even worse for the Goodhouse boys: their fiery eradication. James escaped an Iowa fire bombing, only to find himself moved to a tougher California Goodhouse. An encounter with a strange, brilliant girl with a heart problem on the one day he is allowed to leave campus sends him down a rabbit hole of twisting loyalties, near escapes, and chilling dangers. VERDICT A cut above the strong recent crop of dystopian futures, with a sympathetic protagonist, a believably degenerated society, and harrowing pacing, this deserves a wide audience.
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Adcock, Siobhan. The Barter. Dutton. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525954224. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698161375. F
Baillie, Martha. The Search for Heinrich Schlögel. Tin House. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781935639909. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781935639916. F
Beha, Christopher. Arts & Entertainment. Ecco:HarperCollins. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062322463. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062322470. F
Blackwood, Scott. See How Small. Little, Brown. Jan. 2015. 224p. ISBN 9780316373807. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780316373975. F
Chamberlain, Diane. The Silent Sister. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781250010711. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250010728. F
Coelho, Paulo. Adultery. Knopf. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781101874080. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101874097. F
Dakron, Ron. Hello Devilfish! Three Rooms. Oct. 2014. 148p. ISBN 9780989512565. pap. $15.95. F
Dillon, Lucy. A Hundred Pieces of Me. Berkley. Sept. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9780425276730. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698173200. F
Dugoni, Robert. My Sister’s Grave. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Oct. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9781477825570. pap. $15.95. F
Faber, Michel. The Book of Strange New Things. Hogarth: Crown. Oct. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780553418842. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780553418859. F
Giordano, Paolo. The Human Body. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Oct. 2014. 336p. tr. from Italian by Anne Milano Appel. ISBN 9780670015641. $27.95. F
Giraldi, William. Hold the Dark. Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780871406675. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871404947. F
Harrison, Mette Ivie. The Bishop’s Wife. Soho Crime. Dec. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781616954765. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616954789. F
Hein, Elizabeth. How To Climb the Eiffel Tower. Light Messages. 2014. 315p.
ISBN 9781611531022. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611531039. F
Ley, Rosanna. The Villa. Quercus. 2014. 576p. ISBN 9781623651183. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623651190. F
Liebert, Emily. When We Fall. NAL: Penguin. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780451419453. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781101620489. F
Liss, David. Day of Atonement. Random. Sept. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781400068975. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781588369635. F
Lovett, Charlie. First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen. Viking. Oct. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525427247. $27.95. F
Lurie, Lynn. Quick Kills. Etruscan. Oct. 2014. 135p. ISBN 9780988692282. pap. $14. F
McEwan, Ian. The Children Act. Doubleday. Sept. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780385539708. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385539715. F
McNear, Mary. Butternut Summer. Morrow. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780062283160. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062283177. F
Manfredi, Valerio Massimo. Odysseus: The Oath. Overlook. (Bk. 1). Sept. 2014. 384p. tr. from Italian by Christine Feddersen-Manfredi. ISBN 9781468309218. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781468310269. F
Mazzucco, Melania G. Limbo. Farrar. Nov. 2014. 416p. tr. from Italian by Virginia Jewess. ISBN 9780374191986. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374709907. F
Moyes, Jojo. Silver Bay. Penguin. 2014. 338p. ISBN 9780143126485. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698156357. F
Must, Dennis. Hush Now, Don’t Explain. Coffeetown. Oct. 2014. 287p. ISBN 9781603812016. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781603812023. F
Noxon, Christopher. Plus One. Prospect Park. Jan. 2015. 294p. ISBN 9781938849428. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781938849435. F
Ólafsdóttir, Auour Ava. Butterflies in November. Black Cat. Dec. 2014. 304p. tr. from Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon. ISBN 9780802123183. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780802192301. F
O’Neill, Joseph. The Dog. Pantheon. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780307378231. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101870044. F
Page, Kathy. Alphabet. Biblioasis. Oct. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781927428931. pap. $16.95. F
Rendell, Ruth. The Girl Next Door. Scribner. Nov. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781476786681. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476784335. F
Sojourner, Mary. 29. Torrey House. 2014. 350p. ISBN 9781937226350. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937226367. F
Timmer, Julie Lawson. Five Days Left. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780399167348. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698140868. F
Tsiolkas, Christos. Barracuda. Hogarth: Crown. Sept. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780804138420. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780804138437. F
Vaillant, John. The Jaguar’s Children. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2015. 288p.
ISBN 9780544315495. $26. F
Waite, Urban. Sometimes the Wolf. Morrow. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062216915. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062216939. F
Whitmer, Benjamin. Cry Father. Gallery. Sept. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781476734354. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476734378. F
Zamorano, Désireé. The Amado Women. Cinco Puntos. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781935955733. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781935955740. F
Atwood, Margaret. Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. Doubleday. Sept. 2014.
288p. ISBN 9780385539128. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385539135. F
Johnson, Craig. Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories. Viking. Oct. 2014. 192p. ISBN 9780525427919. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780698181823. F
McCormack, Mike. Forensic Songs. Soho. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9781616954147. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781616954154. F
No Man’s Land: Fiction from a World at War; 1914–1918. Pegasus. Sept. 2014. 572p. ed. by Pete Ayrton. ISBN 9781605986494. pap. $15.95. F
Sheehan, Aurelie. Demigods on Speedway. Univ. of Arizona. Nov. 2014. 160p.
ISBN 9780816531103. pap. $16.95. F
Thompson, Jean. The Witch and Other Tales Re-told. Blue Rider. Sept. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780399170584. $25.95. F