Fiction Previews, February 2012, Pt. 3: Something Different from Pearl While Bazell Stays the Course

Bazell, Josh. Wild Thing. Reagan Arthur Bks: Little, Brown. Feb. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780316032193. $25.99; eISBN 9780316125826. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
He was once Pietro Brwna, mob hitman, but though he’s quit the business and acquired a new name, Dr. Peter Brown does have trouble getting work. So he jumps at the chance to accompany a sexy but out-of-control paleontologist on a dangerous field trip. Alas, they run into international drug dealers and other sordid sorts. Bazell’s debut, Beat the Reaper, sold a bundle and got lots of critical attention‚ it was a Time Top Ten Fiction Book, a No. 1 Indie Pick, and a Barnes and Noble Discover pick‚ so one can rightly have great expectations for this follow-up. Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio is slated to star in the movie. Crisp, snarky-cool writing, if what I’ve read is any indication, and the author’s medical training shines through.

Crombie, Deborah. No Mark Upon Her. Morrow. Feb. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780061990618. $24.99; eISBN 9780062100696. lrg. prnt. MYSTERY
There’s a complication when Olympic rowing hopeful Rebecca Meredith is found drowned in Thames amid the garbage; she also worked as a detective for London’s Metropolitan Police Service‚ better known, we’re reminded by recent headlines, the Met or even more so as Scotland Yard. Both the victim’s ex-husband and her rowing colleagues had cause to dislike her, but when a member of the search-and-rescue team that found Meredith’s body is himself dispatched, Supt. Duncan Kincaid really begins to worry. Three-time Macavity Award winner Crombie is a librarian favorite, and the 100,000-copy first printing speaks volumes. Look for author appearances in Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Tulsa.

Delaney, Frank. The Last Storyteller. Random. Feb. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781400067855. $26. eISBN 9780679644224. HISTORICAL FICTION
Ben McCarthy, star of Delaney’s best-selling Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show and The Matchmaker of Kenmare (soon out in lush paperback editions), finally reunites with true-love Venetia. But activity by the Irish Republican Army (it’s the 1950s) complicates matters. Delaney’s fiction is always character-rich and dramatic. Cool factoid: the former Booker Prize judge offers a series of podcasts on Ulysses called Re-Joyce.

Dorsey, Tim. Pineapple Grenade. Morrow. Feb. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780061876905. $24.99; eISBN 9780062100733. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Even as a gutless corpse and a human-stuffed shark appear on the Miami beach, crusading nutcase Serge Storms decides that he’s going to acquire some spying skills by taking surveillance photos at the Meeting of the Americas Conference. There, he and stoned buddy Coleman actually manage to block the assassination of an attendee. As suggested by the 100,000-copy first printing and eight-city tour to Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Dayton, Indianapolis, Lexington, Madison, and Milwaukee, there’s an audience for this kind of mayhem.

Garrison, Paul. Robert Ludlum’s‚Ñ¢ The Janson Command. Grand Central. Feb. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780446564502. $27.99; eISBN 9780446576758. lrg. prnt. CD/ Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Garrison wrote five mostly ship and sea‚ oriented thrillers (e.g., Red Sky at Morning) before signing on for the Ludlum publishing program, which this fall also includes Kyle Mills’s Robert Ludlum’s‚Ñ¢ The Ares Decision. This first book in a new series features Paul Janson, featured in Ludlum’s The Janson Directive. The former assassin now works to help other disillusioned covert operatives move on to a normal life while also taking on good causes as work-for-hire. His new case is complicated. He’s been asked to rescue a doctor kidnapped by West African rebels battling a nasty dictator; they need his skills to treat their wounded leader. But things are never as they seem. Lots of promotional hubbub; buy wherever the Ludlum program is popular.

Hand, Elizabeth. Available Dark. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780312585945. $23.99. THRILLER
Photographer Cass Neary has accepted a mysterious job offer in Helsinki, where she is shown striking photographs of ritual killings and barely avoids getting killed herself. Then it’s off to Iceland to meet a former lover and a famed musician in exile, even as the murders multiply. Hand has won innumerable awards‚ Shirley Jackson, James Tiptree, Nebula, and World Fantasy‚ so you can expect this latest to be good.

Hobb, Robin. Rain Wilds Chronicles. Vol. 3: City of Dragons. Morrow. Feb. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780061561634. $27.99. FANTASY
The stunted dragons now dwelling in Rain Wilds can become their fully winged, furious selves only if they return to Kelsingera, their lost-in-the-mists homeland, and an assorted group of humans are helping them get there. In this third installment of Hobb’s popular series, the journey is nearly done, and it appears that the only way for the dragons to reach their goal is to fly‚ which is going to be an issue. With a 75,000-copy first printing; fantasy readers will be looking for this on.

Leonard, Elmore. Raylan. Morrow. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062119469. $26.99; eISBN 9780062119483. CD: HarperAudio. THRILLER
The nurse who takes your kidneys and sells them for $10,000 a piece. The mining executive who shoots a recalcitrant employee, then meets casually with the widow. The offender who misses a court date. They’re all women, and they’re all causing trouble for Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens‚ he even has a rather too close encounter with that scalpel-wielding nurse. TV fans will recognize Givens as hero of the hit FX series Justified, which averages 7.2 million viewers a week. Leonard is Leonard; go for it.

Livesey, Margot. The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9780062064226. $25.99; eISBN 9780062064240. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
Attention, Jane Eyre fans. Here is a modern retelling with enough echoes to please you and enough variations to keep you guessing. In the early 1960s, the orphaned Gemma must leave Iceland to live with her uncle, whose death puts her at the mercy of her nasty aunt. After boarding school, she becomes tutor to a troubled child whose alluring guardian has a dark and dirty secret. Livesey’s The House on Fortune Street got multiple best-book nods, which bodes well. Frank, emotional writing and evocative description, particularly of Iceland; get for book clubs.

Patterson, James & Maxine Paetro. Private: #1 Suspect. Little, Brown. Feb. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780316097406. $27.99; eISBN 9780316097413. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Last year’s Private starred former marine helicopter pilot Jack Morgan, who founded an unbeatable investigative firm called Private. Now that a former lover has been found murdered in his bed, Jack could use Private’s help. Even as he tries to clear his name, the mob talks him into tracking down a treasure chest of stolen pharmaceuticals, and a gorgeous woman wants him to look into a string of murders at a chain of luxury hotels she manages. Well, lots of action. Three-quarters of a million copies of Private are in print, so you know there will be demand.

Pearl, Matthew. The Technologists. Random. Feb. 2012. 496p. ISBN 9781400066575. $26; eISBN 9780679605072. CD: Random Audio. Downloadable. THRILLER
Murders paralleling the tortures in Dante’s Inferno, mystery surrounding the death of Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens’s last, unfinished novel as the centerpiece of a mystery. Pearl’s thrillers are nothing if not literary, but here he takes a different tack. In 1868 Boston, seven ships have crashed and burned in the harbor, their compasses having evidently spun wildly and sent them all off course. Investigators turn to the first graduating class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to solve the mystery, and as more catastrophes unfold, the MIT students turn to Ellen Swallow, the school’s only female student, to figure out what’s happening. I love it‚ a science thriller. On December 5, look for publication of an e-original short story that will introduce readers to the students’ first year at MIT and include an excerpt of the book.

Robotham, Michael. Bleed for Me. Mulholland. Feb. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780316126380. $25.99; eISBN 9780316193078. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Trouble for psychologist Joe O’Loughlin, a Robotham standby: 14-year-old Sienna Hegarty arrives at his doorstep covered with the blood of her father, a retired cop found murdered back at home. Sienna has no memory of what happened‚ and not a lot of grief regarding her father’s death. Is she a traumatized bystander? Or a killer? And if the latter, will poor Joe be next? Also coming from Mulholland in February: the paperback reprint of Shatter, which Stephen King picked as a top ten thriller of 2009. Robotham’s doing well.

Robinson, Peter. Before the Poison. Morrow. Feb. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780062004796. $25.99: eISBN 9780062101297. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Still mourning the death of his wife and ready to call it quits after 25 years abroad composing scores for Hollywood, Chris Lowndes returns home to the Yorkshire dales. When he discovers that the house he purchased had been the scene of a murder‚ no wonder he felt so unsettled there‚ Lowdes determines to investigate. Soon he concludes that the young wife executed for killing her prominent physician husband was in fact innocent. And you know that means trouble. Robinson has done swimmingly with his Inspector Banks novels, which routinely make best sellers lists and have won a bushel of key mystery awards, but this standalone could win him new readers‚ especially those looking for dark and twisty psychological thrillers. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Rosenfelt, David. Heart of a Killer. Minotaur St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312598372. $24.99. THRILLER
Laidback lawyer Jamie Wagner suddenly has a big challenge: his latest case concerns Sheryl Harrison, in prison for killing the husband she said was abusing her and her daughter, Karen, who now desperately needs a heart transplant. Sheryl wants to be the provider, so she’s on suicide watch, and Jamie is compelled to reopen the case and find a way to free Sheryl so that she can pursue her goal. Edgar- and Shamus-nominated Rosenfelt has set up a challenging ethical conundrum that will surely unnerve a few readers.

Ruff, Matt. The Mirage. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780061976223. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097934. THRILLER
On 11/9/01, Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners, crashing two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad and another into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. A fourth plane, heading for Mecca, is downed by its passengers. Years later, a suicide bomber interrogated by Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi reveals the dirty truth: the Arab states’ supremacy is just a mirage, and the real superpower is the United States. Okay, the author did well with Bad Monkeys, but this new thriller could go either way, stimulating some readers as scalding commentary while outraging others. Your choice; with a 40,000-copy first printing.

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.