Fiction: January 2012, Pt. 1: From Dean Koontz to Eliot Perlman

Adrian, Lara. Darker After Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel. Delacorte. Jan. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780345530875. $24; eISBN 9780345529299. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Adrian celebrates publication of the tenth and final volume in her best-selling Midnight Breed series by going hardcover. Finally, all the big secrets about the half-human, half-not Breed are resolved, and another Breed male gets knocked out by love. With Adrian’s backlist selling at a clip of 2400 per title per month and her newsletter claiming 17,000-plus subscribers, she’s got fans. Buy wherever this stuff is hot.

Barry, Dave & Alan Zweibel. Lunatics. Putnam. Jan. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780399158698. $25.95. POP FICTION
Pulitzer Prize‚ winning humorist Barry and Emmy/Thurber/Tony award winner Zweibel, who got his start writing for Saturday Night Live, join forces to wreak havoc. Philip Horkman is happily adjusted and maybe just a bit goofy‚ the pet store he owns is called the Wine Shop‚ while full-of-himself Jeffrey Peckerman is as cranky as they come. They meet explosively. Expect demand.

Crais, Robert. Taken. Putnam. Jan. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780399158278. $26.95. THRILLER
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are back, and this time Cole is not just investigator but victim. Asked by a wealthy industrialist to track down her son, who she claims has staged his own kidnapping, our team learns that the lad and his secret girlfriend have in fact been snatched by border kidnappers who trade their victims around like hot commodities. When Cole tries to buy them back, he gets snatched himself. More New York Times best-selling stuff.

Dark, Juliet. The Demon Lover. Ballantine. Jan. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780345510082. pap. $15. PARANORMAL
Her work as a scholar investigating the crossover between fairy tales and gothic romance, which has led to publication of her best-selling The Sex Lives of the Demon Lovers, helps secure Callie McFay an appointment at Fairwick College. There, life imitates art as she meets banshees, witches, and vampires and is visited nightly by a demon lover she aches for while knowing full well that he’s endangering her. The pseudonymous Dark, author of literary thrillers in her alternate life, seems to have hit on something nice and juicy for fans of Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. First in a trilogy.

Higgins, Jack. A Devil Is Waiting. Putnam. Jan. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780399158094. $26.95. THRILLER
Sean Dillon and his crew are facing big trouble: an extremist mullah in Great Britain says he will bless whoever dares to assassinate the U.S. President upon his imminent arrival in London. To counter this threat, Dillon has chosen an intelligence expert and Afghan war hero. She’s named Sara Gideon, and of course she finds that things are not as simple as they seem. More thrills from a New York Times best-selling author.

Iggulden, Conn. Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan. Delacorte. Jan. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780385343053. $27; eISBN 9780345532336. HISTORICAL
This novel ends Iggulden’s entertaining Genghis Khan series, but it’s also billed as an effective stand-alone that could entice new fans. Here we enter that stately pleasure-dome decreed by Kublai Khan himself. Buy wherever historicals are popular.

Jones, Chris Morgan. The Silent Oligarch. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781594203190. $25.95. CD: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Reporter‚ turned‚ investigator at a London corporate intelligence firm, Benjamin Webster is suspicious of Konstantin Malin, a disarmingly gray little bureaucrat in the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources who seems to control half of the country’s oil industry. Malin may also have arranged the murder of a tough-minded journalist, a colleague of Webster’s a decade ago. Caught in the middle: Richard Lock, a money launderer for Malin whose own colleagues are beginning to die. First novelist Jones worked in business intelligence for over a decade (yes, his clients included Russian oligarchs), so the details should be authentic. Nicely tapped into current events, and the subject matter is fresh.

Koontz, Dean. 77 Shadow Street. Bantam. Jan. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9780553807714. $28; lrg. prnt. eISBN 9780345532367. THRILLER
Residents feel lucky to be living in Pendleton, a Gilded Age palace converted into condominiums‚ until strange shadows flit, voices echo in unknown tongues, and a little boy befriends an imaginary playmate who turns real. Seems that this palace has a shady history. Koontz’s e-novella, Darkness Under the Sun, set the stage for this scarefest, and the launch of a Pendleton website will carry the enthusiasm along. Essential.

Mosley, Walter. All I Did Was Shoot My Man: A Leonid McGill Mystery. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781594488245. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio. MYSTERY
Mosley sure loads down his protagonists with complications. Here, Leonid McGill isn’t just facing an uphill battle on his latest case, involving a young woman who seems to have shot her lover when she found him in bed with her girlfriend (though she can’t remember) and seems to be involved with the theft of $6.8 million from a nearby firm as some of the funds have turned up in her storage space (she’s vague on this, too). In addition, McGill’s wife is drinking, his oldest son has left college to live with a former prostitute, and another son is trying to stay straight by working for his dad. Fans of this series will want.

Paretsky, Sara. Breakdown: A V.I. Warshawski Novel. Putnam. Jan. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780399157837. $26.95. THRILLER
Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven‚ and a hot new character on the literary scene. When the devoted tweens in her Chicago fan club hold an initiation rite in a cemetery, they find a man stabbed through the heart, vampire style. Asked to investigate, V.I. Warshawski finds possible connections to one girl’s wealthy grandfather, another’s Senate-hopeful mother, and tragedy in Nazi-occupied Lithuania. Sounds fabulously entertaining if Paretsky can make the is-it-paranormal aspect work.

Perlman, Eliot. The Street Sweeper. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2011. 688p. ISBN 9781594488474. $28.95. LITERARY
Paroled felon Lamont Williams, who works as a street sweeper while looking for his lost daughter, befriends a dying man who survived the Holocaust and has a story to tell. Meanwhile, foundering professor Adam Zignelik discovers a cache of recordings that recall a horrific past and hopes that bringing it to light will bring him acclaim. Their stories meld as both men struggle to right their lives, even as current forces‚ racial politics, the Civil Rights movement‚ inevitably shape their fate. Australian writer Perlman has been on my radar since his multivalanced Seven Types of Ambiguity; his latest will be sought out by serious readers everywhere.

Stachniak, Eva. The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great. Bantam. Jan. 2012. ISBN 9780553808124. $26; eISBN 9780553908046. HISTORICAL
This story of how wide-eyed German duchess Sophie becomes Catherine the Great, one of Russia’s foremost rulers, is narrated by a servant named Barbara (not Varvara?) who doubles as a royal spy. The Polish-born, Canadian-based Stachniak has signed two more books with the publisher, one telling Catherine’s story from her own viewpoint. As I told the publicist, I’ll feature anything titled The Winter Palace; Russian history is so appealing, and unlike some British royalty, Catherine is not overdone.

Wolitzer, Hilma. An Available Man. Ballantine. Jan. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780345527547. $25; eISBN 9780345527561. POP FICTION
Just widowed at 62, Edward Schuyler misses his wife and finds the idea of dating off-putting. But he’s forced to enter the fray when his stepchildren place an ad in the Personals of the New York Review of Books (guess he’s the intellectual type). Wolitzer’s warm-hearted little charmers are book club faves, and this one nicely addresses the sometimes neglected experiences of an older audience.

Woods, Stuart. D.C. Dead: A Stone Barrington Novel. Putnam. Jan. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780399157660. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
After heartbreak, Stone Barrington is thinking of quitting his work as a partner at Woodman and Weld when he’s called to Washington by President Will Lee. One hitch: the job the President has for him brings him back in touch with former bedmate Holly Barker. Woods keeps churning successfully.

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.