Ralph Ellison, Lauren Willig, & an Icelandic Bestseller | January Fiction on Audio

Benjamin, Chloe. The Immortalists. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525497646. Read by Maggie Hoffman.
It’s 1969 and word has spread on New York City’s Lower East Side of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The four adolescent Gold children sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

Ellison, Ralph, Adam Bradley & John F. Callahan. Three Days Before the Shooting… Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525587699. Reader TBA.
At his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison left behind roughly two thousand pages of his unfinished second novel, which he had spent nearly four decades writing. This work gathers together in one volume, for the first time, all the parts of that planned opus, including three major sequences never before published. Set in the frame of a deathbed vigil, the story is a multigenerational saga centered on the assassination of the controversial, race-baiting U.S. senator Adam Sunraider, who’s being tended to by “Daddy” Hickman, the elderly black jazz musician turned preacher who raised the orphan Sunraider.

Finn, A.J. The Woman in the Window. HarperAudio. ISBN 9780062801951. Reader TBA.
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times, and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenage son. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble, and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

Graham-Felsen, Sam. Green. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525494430. Read by Prentice Onayemi.
Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. Nobody’s more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: He’s nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he’s been given—and that Mar has not.

Helgason, Hallgrimur. Woman at 1,000 Degrees. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501969621. Reader TBA.
As she lies alone in a garage in the heart of Reykjavik, waiting to die, Herra Bjornsson reflects on the mishaps, tragedies, and turns of luck that took her from Iceland to Nazi Germany, from the United States to Argentina and back to a post-crash, high-tech, modern Iceland. With death approaching, she remembers the husbands and children she has loved and lost, and tries, for the first time, to control her own fate by defying her family’s wishes and setting a date for her cremation—at a toasty temperature of 1,000 degrees.

Hoby, Hermione. Neon in Daylight. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538511312. Read by Saskia Maarleveld.
New York City in 2012, the sweltering summer before Hurricane Sandy hits. Kate, a young woman newly arrived from England, is staying in a Manhattan apartment while she tries to figure out her future. She has two unfortunate responsibilities during her time in America: to make regular Skype calls to her miserable boyfriend back home, and to cat-sit an indifferent feline named Joni Mitchell. In New York’s parks and bodegas, its galleries and performance spaces, its bars and clubs crowded with bodies, Kate encounters two strangers who will transform her stay: Bill, a charismatic but embittered writer made famous by the movie version of his only novel; and Inez, his daughter, a recent high school graduate who supplements her Bushwick cafe salary by enacting the fantasies of men she meets on Craigslist. Unmoored from her old life, Kate becomes infatuated with both of them.

Hurwitz, Gregg. Hellbent. Brilliance. ISBN 9781522649632. Read by Scott Brick.
Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate. But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protégé and recruit for the program.

Johnson, Denis. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525495482. Reader TBA.
The long-awaited new story collection, which was finished shortly before Johnson’s death, finds the author contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves.

Joyce, Rachel. The Music Shop. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525626220. Read by Steven Hartley.
It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Terrified of real closeness, Frank feels compelled to turn and run, yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman. But Ilse is not what she seems, and Frank has old wounds that threaten to reopen, as well as a past it seems he will never leave behind.

Kothari, Falguni. My Last Love Story. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538509494. Reader TBA.
Simi Desai is 30 years old and her husband is dying of cancer. He has two last wishes in his final months: first, that she’ll have his baby so that a piece of him lives on, and second, that she’ll reconcile with her old flame, who just happens to be their mutual best friend. And so over the course of their last summer together, Simi’s husband plans a series of big and small adventures for the unlikely trio, designed to help them say goodbye to each other and prove to Simi that it’s okay to move on without him—and even find love again.

Levy, Lawrence H. Last Stop in Brooklyn. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525500360. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
It’s the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man’s brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but the killer was never found. Once again it’s up to Mary to make right the city’s wrongs. New York City’s untouchable head of detectives, Thomas Byrnes, swears he put the right man behind bars, but as Mary digs deeper, she finds corruption at the heart of New York’s justice system, involving not only the police, but the most powerful of stock titans.

Markert, James. All Things Bright and Strange. Brilliance. ISBN 9781543637960. Reader TBA.
The people of Bellhaven, SC, have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but. The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.

Massey, Sujata. The Widows of Malabar Hill. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501980404. Reader TBA.
Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen is going through the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder.

Medoff, Jillian. This Could Hurt. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781538480076. Reader TBA.
Rosa Guerrero beat the odds as she rose to the top of the corporate world. An attractive woman of a certain age, the longtime chief of human resources at Ellery Consumer Research is still a formidable presence. A leader who wields power with grace and discretion, she has earned the devotion and loyalty of her staff. No one admires Rosa more than her doting lieutenant Leo Smalls, a benefits vice president whose whole world is Ellery. While Rosa is consumed with trying to address the needs of her staff within the ever-constricting limits of the company’s bottom line, her associate director, Rob Hirsch, a middle-aged, happily married father of two, finds himself drawing closer to his “work wife,” Lucy Bender, an enterprising single woman searching for something—a romance, a promotion—to fill the vacuum in her personal life. For Kenny Verville, a senior manager with an MBA, Ellery is a temporary stepping-stone to bigger and better places—that is, if his high-powered wife has her way.

Moyes, Jojo. Still Me. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525530176. Reader TBA.
What began with Lou clark’s devastating whirlwind romance with Will Traynor in Me Before You and continued with her transition into recovery and life post-Will in After You, now takes a new direction, as Lou heads for New York, and finds herself torn between her old life and her new one.

Rowland, Laura Joh. A Mortal Likeness. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520091488. Read by Alex Tregear.
When wealthy banker Sir Gerald Mariner posts a handsome reward for finding his missing infant, all of London joins in, hoping to win that money for themselves. Photographer and private detective Sarah Bain realizes the case hits much closer to home than she first thought. As she dives in, she discovers a photograph of baby Robin Mariner and his mother that eerily resembles the post-mortem photographs Sarah, herself, takes of deceased children posed to look as if they were alive. Now it’s unclear whether the kidnapping is a cover-up to hide the reality of his disappearance or if it’s truly a cry for help.

Saadawi, Ahmed. Frankenstein in Baghdad. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524778620. Read by Kaleo Griffith & Edoardo Ballerini.
From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi—a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café—collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive—first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.

Smith, Gregory Blake. The Maze at Windermere. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525499541. Read by Edoardo Ballerini, Raphael Corkhill, Rich Topol, Michael Crouch, & Caitlin Davies.
A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest—the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress’s diamond necklace—launches a narrative odyssey that braids together three centuries of aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young writer soon to make his mark turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport’s earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward.

Tudor, C.J. The Chalk Man. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525526407. Read by Andrew Scott & Asa Butterfield.
In 1986, Eddie and his friend are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them to a dismembered body. In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank…until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Willig, Lauren. The English Wife. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427293435. Reader TBA.
Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairytale romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to try to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel.

Wirkus, Tim. The Infinite Future. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525498612. Reader TBA.
In the work’s first half, three broken people are joined by an obsession with a forgotten Brazilian science fiction author named Salgado-MacKenzie. There’s Danny, a writer who’s been scammed by a shady literary award committee; Sergio, journalist turned librarian in São Paulo; and Harriet, an excommunicated Mormon historian in Salt Lake City, who years ago corresponded with the reclusive Brazilian writer. The motley trio sets off to discover his identity, and whether his fabled masterpiece—never published—actually exists. The second half is the lost masterpiece itself—the actual text of Salgado-MacKenzie’s magnum opus.

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.

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