Fiction, May 23, 2011

Buchanan, Edna. A Dark and Lonely Place. S. & S. Nov. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9781439159170. $26. THRILLER
As he hunts down a woman connected to the murder of a millionaire, Police Detective John Ashley comes to realize that he’s been dreaming of her since childhood. Since an ancestor of his ran off with his sweetheart after being wrongly accused of murder, there’s definitely a pattern here. Buchanan’s latest sound both more romantic and more philosophical (can we escape ever-echoing fate?) than her previous hard-edged titles. She’s an Edgar Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize winner for her crime reporting, so you can’t go wrong with this.

Duenas, Maria. The Time in Between. Atria: S. & S. Nov. 2011. 560p. ISBN 9781451616880. $26. THRILLER
Sira Quiroga is an haute couture seamstress. But it’s World War II, so she also works undercover as a spy for the British Secret Service. Philology professor Duenas’s first novel was a Spanish best seller that got 1.5 million out the door. Check this out; Spanish thrillers are coming up in the world.

Jensen, Nancy. The Sisters. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780312542702. $24.99. LITERARY
It’s 1920s Kentucky, Bertie Fisher’s mother is dead, and her stepfather is an ominous presence. Big sister Mabel is Bertie’s one mainstay, but something happens when Mabel graduates from eighth grade that pulls the girls apart for what turns into decades. I’ve heard good things about this debut novel; watch it.

Kennedy, Douglas. Temptation. Atria: S. & S. Nov. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9781451602104. pap. $16. POP FICTION
The American-born Kennedy is a best-selling author abroad (he’s even won France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres), But he’s only being discovered here, having made a breakthrough with the New York Times best-selling Leaving the World. Here, an aspiring screenwriter finally inks a big deal, abandons his old life (including day job, wife, child, and ratty Volvo), then gets seduced by an offer from a very rich film buff that lands him in big trouble. Kennedy’s books are scrumptious page-turners but with more fiber and better writing than your typical late-night read; buy accordingly.

King, Stephen. 11/22/63. Scribner. Nov. 2011. 864p. ISBN 9781451627282. $35. CD: S. & S. Audio.
You’ve surely read all about King’s latest‚ you’ve even read about it here‚ but the plot bears repeating. Middle-aged high school teacher Jake Epping is told by friend Al that the storeroom of the dinner he runs is a portal to 1958. So Jake slips back to the time of Elvis and cars with fins, falls for the beautiful school librarian, and moves toward those devastating shots on 11/22/63 that ended Kennedy’s life and a lot of dreams forever. Can Jake change history? And what does this all have to do with a GED student back in contemporary times whose essay about his father’s murder of his mother and siblings has so shaken Jake? Buy multiples, of course.

Lazar, Alan. Roam. Atria: S. & S. Nov. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9781451632903. $22. POP FICTION
Nelson should link up with Sophie Tucker, the blue heeler whose story I cite in my Picks. Happy with his human, concert pianist Katey, Norman is still a bit of a wanderer, and one day he wanders too far. He’s lost for eight years and goes through a lot before finally reuniting with Katey. Yes, dogs are unbelievably loyal, and love conquers all. Lazar is a platinum-selling composer whose music you have heard in over 50 films and TV shows. Now he’s trying out fiction; for all dog lovers and those who take hankies with their reading.

Roberts, Sheila. The Nine Lives of Christmas. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. 208p. ISBN 9780312594497. $14.99. POP FICTION
About to lose his ninth and final life, Ambrose the cat makes a deal with that Great Feline in the Sky and is promptly rescued by firefighter Zach. Now he must earn his reprieve by getting Zach together with the sweet young woman who works at Pet Palace. Not so easy, thought the festive holiday environment might help. Another in the best-selling Christmas series by Roberts.

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. Stan Ulrich says:

    As to Edna Buchanan, you say “She’s an Edgar Award winner” — I believe she was nominated twice for her fiction, but didn’t win: 1991 Best First nominee and 1995 Best Novel nominee.