Fiction Previews, February 2012, Pt. 4: Erin Kelly, Lisa Lutz, and a Debut Set in Maine

Barnes, Steven & Tananarive Due. Devil’s Wake. Atria: S. & S. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781451617009. $15; eISBN 9781451617016. PARANORMAL THRILLER
In this first in a new series, victims of a sweeping epidemic mindlessly bite others, leaving them irrevocably changed. The cause is a nasty alien life-form just itching to take over Earth. The husband-and-wife coauthors do well separately‚ Due with Bram Stoker nominations and PW best-book-dom and Barnes with Hugo and Cable Ace nominations and New York Times best-seller-dom. So you can expect good work here.

Brown, Stacia M. Accidents of Providence. Houghton. Feb. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780547490809. $25; eISBN 97805475193456. HISTORICAL
Brown was researching her dissertation on martyrs in 17th-century England when she dreamed up this debut novel. In Cromwell-run England, unmarried glove maker Rachel Lockyer has an affair with William Walwyn, one of the Levellers advocating rights to the people. A baby found buried in the woods is assumed to be Rachel’s, and she is arrested and tried publicly; anyone concealing the death of an illegitimate child is considered guilty of murder. Good for historical fiction fans; with a reading group guide.

Coonts, Deborah. So Damn Lucky. Forge: Tor. Feb. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780765330062. $24.99. MYSTERY
Head of customer relations at Vegas’s the Babylon, Lucky O’Toole isn’t that lucky. Her magic act has disappeared, and it seems that he’s not simply exercising the tricks of his trade. Meanwhile, Lucky is feeling tense about her boss, her live-in boyfriend is gleefully touring with a cute pop star, and other love interests are circling. Coonts’s latest, Lucky Stiff, got a starred LJ review, and she was a huge hit at a 2010 AAP librarians’ lunch, so definitely check this out.

Kelly, Erin. The Dark Rose. Pamela Dorman: Penguin Group (USA). Feb. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780670023288. $26.95. THRILLER
Forced into petty theft that ended gruesomely in murder, 19-year-old Paul testified against a bullying friend to avoid prison himself. Louisa works to restore a faded Elizabethan garden while suppressing an infatuation that ended badly. But Paul brings it all back (he looks markedly like the man who wrecked Louisa’s life), and the two start a secret affair. Too bad the past intervenes. Kelly made a name for herself with The Poison Tree; get this follow-up wherever twisty suspense is popular.

Lee, Krys. Drifting House. Viking. Feb. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780670023257. $25.95. CD: Penguin Audio. SHORT STORIES
This first collection encompasses the Korean immigrant experience, ranging from children fleeing famine in North Korea to a patched-together family in America upended when a shaman moves next door. Lots of excitement about Lee, a 2006 finalist for Best New American Voices; a seven-city tour is planned for this book, and her first novel, How I Became a North Korean, is already scheduled for publication in 2013. Get for those who like to catch rising stars.

Lutz, Lisa. Trail of the Spellmans. S. & S. Feb. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9781451608120. $25. eISBN 9781451608144. Downloadable: S. & S. Audio. MYSTERY
With parents Olivia and Albert off on their own tangents, siblings David and Rae at each others’ throats, and Rae guilty of faking a surveillance reports, Isabel (Izzy) Spellman shoulders the family PI business pretty much on her own. Among her cases: a mathematician going nuts, a socialite who wants her husband followed, and a tweedy sort of guy who want his sister followed‚ she’s the socialite. Lutz does not seem to be losing her touch.

Ohlsson, Kristina. Unwanted. Atria: S. & S. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781439198896. $25; eISBN 9781439198933. THRILLER
When a child is abducted from a packed train, then found dead in chilly northern Sweden with the word unwanted inscribed on her forehead, Inspector Frederika Bergman gets down to the business of finding a particularly nasty killer. Yes, another example of Scandinavian derring-do, though Ohlsson, formerly a security police analyst for the National Swedish Police Board, is now a counterterrorism officer living in Vienna. This won the 2010 Stabilo Prize for Best Crime Writer of Southern Sweden, so you probably can’t go wrong.

Peikoff, Kira. Living Proof. Tor. Feb. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780765329301. $24.99. THRILLER
Having reported for venues like Newsday and New York magazine, Peikoff was present in 2006 when President Bush vetoed funding for stem-cell research. Inspired by those events, she sets her debut novel in 2027, at a time when such research is considered first-degree murder. Well versed in genetic engineering, ob-gyn Arianna Drake is ready to risk all to perform such research; she wants to find a way to reverse her multiple sclerosis. Readers who like thrillers with a message should appreciate this one.

Riley, Lucinda. The Orchid House. Atria: S. & S. Feb. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9781451655780. pap. $15; eISBN 9781451655803. HISTORICAL FICTION
Mourning the loss of her husband and young child, Julia Forrester returns to Wharton Park, recalling how she enjoyed wandering through the hothouse where her grandfather raised lush orchids. At Wharton Park, she discovers an old diary with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate, and they seek out Julia’s grandmother to discover the truth behind a love affair that nearly destroyed the family on the eve of World War II. Published as Hothouse Flower in the U.K. and a best seller there and in Germany, this should be great escapist reading for lovers of historical fiction.

Rogers, Morgan Callan. Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea. Viking. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780670023400. $26.95. LITERARY
Bread baking, lobster pots, and Maine’s cold blue sea: none of it is the same for Florine Gilham after he mother disappears on a weekend outing. When she grows up, secrets from her father’s past further complicate her life. Native Mainer Rogers’s debut is reputedly charming, and it’s already a best seller in Germany. Good for book clubs that like coming-of-age and small-town stories.

Unger, Lisa writing as Lisa Miscione. Twice. Crown. Feb. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780307953179. pap. $15; ISBN 9780307953186. THRILLER
Changing her name when she shifts to paperback, Unger gives us the third in a popular series starring true-crime writer Lydia Strong. Here, Strong learns that the serial killer who dispatched her mother is looking for her, even as she handles a murder case involved famed artist Julian Ross, accused of murdering her husband. Good wherever Unger is 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. Stan Ulrich says:

    I believe Lisa Miscione’s TWICE originally came out in 2004; and there is a fourth in the series, SMOKE (2005).