Brandman, Michael. Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues: A Jesse Stone Novel. Putnam. Sept. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780399157844. $25.95.
With summer just weeks away, Chief of Police Jesse Stone is pretty tense‚ and not just because charming little Paradise, MA, is gearing up for the tourists. Stone finds himself dealing with a bunch of car thefts, then murder, then someone who’s come to town to remind him of his not-so-happy past as an L.A. cop, undermining his ability to do his job. Fans mourning Parker’s death will be happy to see that Brandman, who has written and produced numerous TV movies based on Parker’s novels, has picked up where the best-selling author left off.

Brooks, Terry. The Measure of the Magic: Legends of Shannara. Del Rey: Ballantine. Sept. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780345484208. $27; eISBN 9780345529213.
In Bearers of the Black Staff, which takes place 500 years after the Genesis of Shannara series, the magic that has kept survivors of the Great Wars safe in their remote mountain sanctuary has finally failed. In this second and concluding volume of the series, two fledging magic-wielders had better prove their worth, or thousands will die. Foolproof for fantasy lovers.

Cohen, Leah Hager. The Grief of Others. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9781594488054. $26.95.
The death of a newborn at first shatters family members, then teaches them to draw together and share one another’s burdens. Cohen excels at family drama‚ her recent House Lights, whose protagonist learns that her professor father has sexually abused his students‚ was called gorgeous (Los Angeles Times), excellent (Washington Post Book World), and a hit (LJ)‚ so this should be good. And perhaps win Cohen a few more fans.

Cussler, Clive & Justin Scott. The Race: An Isaac Bell Adventure. Putnam. Sept. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780399157813. $27.95.
Det. Isaac Bell is back, doing his Pinkerton-ish best to fight crime in early 1900s America. More than that I cannot tell you, but as LJ observes, because this series deals with historical fact, it cannot go over the top like so many of Cussler’s futuristic novels. Bell would seem to be a terrific new hero from Cussler, and this series is doing well.

My Pick
Farah, Nuruddin. Crossbones. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9781594488160. $27.95.
Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other honors, Farah writes enthrallingly about his native Somalia‚ though he has lived much of his life in exile after being threatened with arrest in 1974. Here, a journalist returns home to search for a missing stepson and encounters a country blighted by civil war, piracy, and religious intolerance. But don’t expect an utterly grim book; as Farah told LJ in a 2007 interview, appropriately titled Fiction as Hope, When you can’t go down any farther, there is nothing to do but sink or dream of going up. Expect sharp insight into both human nature and sectarian strife, told in illuminating language free of cant.

Hensher, Philip. King of the Badgers. Faber & Faber. Sept. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780865478633. $26.
British author Hensher isn’t a household name in America, but he ought to be. In 2003, Granta put him on its list of Best of Young British Novelists with folks like Zadie Smith and Andrew O’Hagan. In 2008, his trenchant yet fluidly written sixth novel, The Northern Clemency, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Here, an eight-year-old girl’s disappearance occasions our visit to quiet little Hanmouth, where individuals isolated by class and lifestyle eventually come out from behind their walls and reveal their quirky passions. Promising indeed, especially for Anglophiles.

Howard, Linda. Prey. Ballantine. Sept. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780345506917. $26; eISBN 9780345526298. CD: Random Audio.
A camping guide who can’t compete with the new guy in town, sinfully handsome Dare Callahan, Angie Powell is taking a final trip through the woods with some clients when she finds herself held at gunpoint. With Dare somewhere in the woods, tracking a wounded grizzly, is there a chance she’ll leave these woods alive? Before you answer, remember: it’s not for nothing that Howard is called the Queen of Romantic Suspense and routinely debuts in the top ten on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Johnson, Denis. Train Dreams. Farrar. Sept. 2011. 128p. ISBN 9780374281144. $18. CD: Macmillan Audio.
National Book Award winner Johnson is back, and though his book is brief (and billed as a novella), it’s sure to pack a punch (just think about Tree of Smoke). His protagonist, Robert Grainer, is a day laborer in the early 20th-century American West suffering all the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune even as the country is radically transformed into something bigger and brighter. With a reading group guide; grab it.

King, Laurie R. Pirate King. Bantam. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780553807981. $25; eISBN 9780553907544.
Sherlock Holmes joins wife Mary Russell as she watches over the young actresses cast in Fflytte Films’s latest extravaganza, The Pirates of Penzance, being made on location in Lisbon and Morocco. Suddenly, the prop knives turn real, and so do the pirates. The latest in a fun, durable series with two million copies in print, no less. Don’t miss.

Mitchard, Jacquelyn. Second Nature. Random. Sept. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9781400067756. $26. CD: Random Audio.|
Sicily was badly disfigured by the flames that devoured her school and took her firefighter father’s life; then her mother died as well. But she’s managed to lead a normal life and even has a fiancé‚ until a dreadful secret is revealed, and Sicily contemplates something pretty cutting edge: a total face transplant. And that’s the beginning of another big story. Classic Mitchard; buy multiples wherever she is popular.

My Pick
Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus. Doubleday. Sept. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780385534635. $26.95. CD: Random Audio.
When Prospero the Enchanter discovers that he has a young daughter with extraordinary magical talents, he wastes no time in setting up a competition between her and the protégé of his long-time adversary, the mysterious man in gray. Celia and Marco train until young adulthood and eventually meet under the eerie black-and-white-striped tents of the Cirque des R√™ves‚ the Circus of Dreams. What happens next has obviously intrigued a lot of people‚ rights for this debut have been sold to 22 countries, Summit Entertainment has made a film deal, and there’s a 175,000-copy first printing. Not over-the-top kaleidoscopic but keenly, lushly cool and inventive with a hint of danger and reckless love; remember, this circus Opens at nightfall/ Closes at Dawn. Puts me in mind of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes lightened up with Harry Potter. This will be big.

Sem-Sandberg, Steve. The Emperor of Lies. Farrar. Sept. 2011. 672p. ISBN 9780374139643. $30.
Good or bad? Power monger or savior? Put in charge of the Lodz ghetto by the Nazis, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski ruled with an iron fist, turning the ghetto into an indispensable industrial complex. In his August Prize winner, to be published in more than 25 languages, Swedish author Sem-Sanberg looked carefully at the record before reimaging Rumkowski’s rule. Important for smart readers and one book I’m really anticipating; with a national tour (cool for a foreign author) and reading group guide.

Woods, Stuart. Son of Stone: A Stone Barrington Novel. Putnam. Sept. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780399157653. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio.
Yup, looks as if Stone Barrington had a son‚ according to rich-rich former love Arrington Calder. She’s got other plans for him, too. Don’t know yet where the suspense comes in‚ though those plans are probably dangerous‚ but Woods is always popular.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. […] Fiction ¬´ PrePub Alert British author Hensher isn't a household name in America but he ought to be. In 2003, Granta put him on its list of Best of Young British Novelists with folks like Zadie Smith and Andrew O'Hagan. In 2008, his trenchant yet fluidly written sixth . Second Nature Random. Sept p. ISBN $26. CD: Random Audio.| Sicily was badly disfigured by the flames that devoured her school and took her firefighter father's life; then her mother died as well. […]