Fiction Previews: March 2012, Pt. 3: Picoult, Green, and a Debut from the Director of Yale University Press

Anshaw, Carol. Carry the One. S. & S. Mar. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781451636888. $25. LITERARY
Loopy from drugs, liquor, and the general excitement, the last guests to leave Carmen and Matt’s wedding reception pile into a car and then hit a girl on the dark country road, killing her instantly. Ordinary events like affairs, parenthood, and divorce spin out over the next 25 years, but the lives of these young people have been changed forever, even if time and love do their work. Intense in-house buzz and already some rave bookseller quotes on this one; look for a possible breakout for the award-winning Anshaw.

Cameron, Peter. Coral Glynn. Farrar. Mar. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780374299019. $25. LITERARY
At remote Hart House in the English countryside, circa the 1950s, Coral Glynn tends the dying Mrs. Hart while skirting the crabby housekeeper and Mrs. Hart’s son, war-damaged Maj. Clement Hart. A child’s game gone badly awry in the surrounding woods changes the mood and positions Coral and the major for a perhaps inappropriate marriage. Billed as a period novel and sure to be atmospheric; I’ve been on to Cameron since 1997’s entrancing Andorra, so I’m glad to hear that this latest is a real in-house favorite.

Coughlin, Jack & Donald A. Davis. Running the Maze. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312554958. $25.99. THRILLER
A doctor on a relief mission in northeastern Pakistan snaps a photo of a ruined bridge with his cell phone‚ and then he and his entire team are wiped out. Why did they die? Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Swanson (of the New York Times best-selling series) takes a look at the picture, which the doctor had sent to his sister, a marine sniper, and knows there’s a deadly terrorist secret hidden there somewhere. Good for most collections, with military thrillers on the upswing.

Davidson, MaryJanice. Yours, Mine, and Ours. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780312531188. $24.99. THRILLER
Big in the chick-lit paranormal market, Davidson switched gears with Me, Myself, and Why? to introduce Cadence Jones, a federal agent afflicted with multiple personality disorder who works in the FBI’s covert Bureau of False Flags Ops (BOFFO) with other misfits. Hmm, a sort of quease-inducing chick-lit thriller. Anyway, in this follow-up, Cadence is shopping for her Secret Santa and new love Patrick while contending with amazing new BOFFO employee Emma Jan Thyme and tracking a serial killer who strikes ordinary-seeming 14-year-olds each June. Big, big publicity push.

Dermont, Amber. The Starboard Sea. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312642808. $24.99. LITERARY
A Manhattan penthouse, a flashy prep-school eduction, a summer home in Maine: as his name suggests, Jason Prosper comes from wealth. But he ignores all the fuss and pretension, instead preferring to sail with Cal, his best friend at Kensington Prep. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year, a devastated Jason transfers to another school and launches a gentle romance with Aidan. Then Aidan’s bruised body is discovered on the beach after a terrible storm blows through, and she is ruled a suicide, too. But Jason begins to wonder‚ could something connect the deaths of two people so close to him?‚ and he begins contemplating what dark secrets those around him might be hiding. Lots of good noises about this debut novel and lots of publicity muscle, so I’m really excited.

Donatich, John. The Variations. Holt. Mar. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780805094381. $26. LITERARY
Father Dominic has lost his faith, finding himself unable to counsel struggling congregants like wounded, self-obsessed teenager Dolores or young African American pianist James. And he’s about to lose his vocation. Andrea, a sharply honed editor from New York, has been reading his blog and gets interested in Dom, but not ultimately for religion’s sake. Neither a raucous take on a priest going secular or a grim stab at religion (at least at first glance), this promises to be a thoughtful, musing read. A debut from the director of Yale University Press; watch.

Edwardson, Åke. Sail of Stone. S. & S. Mar. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781451608502. pap. $15. THRILLER
A man disappears, and his children tell Chief Inspector Erik Winter of the Gothenburg police that he may be in Scotland searching for his father‚ who supposedly died in World War II. A woman who’s possibly the victim of domestic abuse also disappears, though she does occasionally leave cryptic messages for Winter’s colleague Aneta Djanali, Gothenburg’s African-Swedish female detective. A new case of the Scandinavian blues, and Edwardson comes highly recommended; he’s a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Award for best crime novel and has been translated into 20 languages.

Gebbie, Vanessa. The Coward’s Tale. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Mar. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781608197729. pap. $26.
When he goes to live with his grandmother in a small Welsh town, nine-year-old Laddy Merridew immediately befriends the local beggar-storyteller, Ianto Passchendaele Jenkins. And does Ianto have stories to tell, particularly about the collapse decades ago of the local coal mine, Kindly Light‚ though he won’t open up about his own experiences there. Welsh-born Gebbie, the author of two story collections, has won several prizes for extracts of this debut novel (e.g., first place in the Daily Telegraph‘s Novel in a Year competition). And the publicist calls it wonderfully imaginative, character driven, highly charming, highly moving, colorful, and beautiful. You can’t beat that. Likely a great book-club read (there’s a guide) and definitely one to watch.

Green, Jane. Another Piece of My Heart. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780312591823. $25.99. CD: Macmillan Audio. POP FICTION
It’s tough being a stepmother. Andi has finally found the perfect man, and he comes with two daughters‚ a plus for our motherhood-hungry heroine. Alas, little Emily is not so thrilled with Andi, who’s getting in the way of daddy’s love. Another tale of domestic tumult from the ever-ready Green; with a 150,000-copy first printing. Consider multiples.

Grossman, Paul. Children of Wrath. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312601911. $25.99. THRILLER
Grossman came out of the gate like wildfire with The Sleepwalkers, a historical/mystery/noir thriller combo set in early 1930s Berlin and starring Det. Willi Kraus. In this prequel, set at the time of the stock market crash in New York, Willi dutifully opens a burlap sack washed up from the city’s sewer system and finds gnawed children’s bones and a Bible with the words children of wrath circled in red. Did I say noir? Certainly dark and bound to be in demand.

Kazinski, A.J. The Last Good Man. Scribner. Mar. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781451640755. $26. THRILLER
A Chinese monk. An Indian economist devoted to the poor. Just two of 34 good men who have died mysteriously, an odd mark spreading over their bodies. Does this have something to do with the legend from Jewish scripture that at any time there are 36 righteous people on Earth protecting the rest? If so, Det. Niels Bentzon of Copenhagen, which is about to host a world climate summit, has two deaths left to prevent. Fortunately, with the help of astrophysicist Hannah, he’s starting to see a pattern. Yes, another Scandinavian thriller, this one actually by the writing team of director/screenwriter Anders Rønnow Klarlund (Strings) and Danish novelist Jacob Weinreich. Sounds promising, especially where thrillers with religious overtones are popular.

Keret, Etgar. Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories. Farrar. Mar. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780374533335. pap. $14. SHORT STORIES
Israeli author Keret writes sometimes appealingly wacky, sometimes darkly absurdist stories that define life’s insanity, and they translate well to America. He’s had pieces in Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review, and Zoetrope and has been featured on NPR. Here’s yet another collection, with the respected American author Nathan Englander among its translators. Sophisticated readers should check this out.

O’Donovan, Gerard. Dublin Dead. Scribner. Mar. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781451610635. $25. THRILLER
DI Mike Mulcahy wonders about the relationship between the murder of a Dublin gangster in Dublin and a big load of cocaine abandoned on Ireland’s south coast, while reporter Siobhan Fallon sees more to a suicide story than meets the idea but needs Mulcahy’s help to get a final piece of evidence. All of which leads to terror in West Cork. O’Donovan’s debut, White Lion, was short-listed for a Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger award; his second, The Priest, wasn’t as strong. Let’s see if three’s a charm. Consider for the international thriller crowd and shamrock fanatics.

Patterson, Richard North. Fall from Grace. Scribner. Mar. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781451617054. $26. THRILLER
Adam Blaine arrives at his father’s funeral and gets right down to the business of figuring out how and why the man died (is there a killer in the family?) and what can be done about the tangle of legal and financial secrets he left behind. Blaine’s CIA training helps; having to deal with his sobbing mother and his father’s distant, TV-actress mistress doesn’t. Another from the dependable Patterson.

Picoult, Jodi. Lone Wolf. Atria: S. & S. Mar. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9781439102749. $28. POP FICTION
Living in Thailand, 24-year-old Edward Warren learns that his estranged father lies comatose after a terrible accident and is fading fast. His younger sister, who had also been injured, keeps hoping that things will turn around for dad, but Edward is all for pulling the plug and starting organ donation. What’s his motivation? As usual, Picoult takes on thorny personal issues; her fans will be waiting. With a reading group guide and a national tour that could include Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Lexington, Denver/Boulder, Raleigh/Durham, and locales in New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Rose, M.J. The Book of Lost Fragrances. Atria: S. & S. Mar. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781451621303. $24. THRILLER
Heir to a legendary French perfume company, Jac L’Etoile flees Paris after her mother’s suicide and settles in America. But when her brother claims to have found a momentous secret in the company archives and then goes missing, leaving a dead body in his wake, Jac must return home to sort things out. Her efforts take her beyond standard-issue reality, from Cleopatra’s Egypt to revolutionary France and more. At first glance brisk, low-key, intense, and with a touch of magic; Rose (The Reincarnationist) sells well.

Steinhauer, Olen. An American Spy. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. March 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780312622893 $25.95. THRILLER
Bad news for CIA agent Milo Weaver. Seeking revenge for the death of his son, Chinese intelligence agent Xin Zhu has managed to infiltrate the CIA’s Department of Tourism and set agents against one another, leaving 33 dead. Now Milo is expected to help the CIA get even. The third Milo Weaver thriller from a big best-selling author who’s been within spitting distance of the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and Barry awards. Don’t miss.

Swierczynski, Duane. Point and Shoot. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Mar. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780316133302. pap. $14.99. THRILLER
Funs and Games. Hell and Gone. And now Point and Shoot. Swierczynski, author of the X-Men spinoff Cable, wraps up his Charlie Hardie trilogy by putting the poor guy in a steel box inside a satellite 500 miles above Earth. Charlie has sufficient food, air, and water (plus tubes and wires attached to his body), and he’s supposed to stay aloft for a year without communication or his family will come to grief. He’s also got a bead on some dangerous secrets he can hold over his captors, so a crash landing might be just the thing. Buy where the first two titles were popular.

Tranter, Kirsten. A Common Loss. Atria: S. & S. Mar. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9781439177228. pap. $15. POP FICTION
For nine years, Elliot West has been making a pilgrimage to Las Vegas for a reunion with college friends, never mind that they are slowly growing apart. Then the brightest light among them dies in an accident, and perception-altering truths spill out. Okay, a common setup, but the high praise accorded Tranter’s The Legacy suggests that there will be a lot more going on. Watch.

Ward, Katie. Girl Reading. Scribner. Feb.. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781451655902. $25. LITERARY
An orphan in medieval Sienna. A 17th-century servant girl in Amsterdam posing for her master. An 18th-century woman painting the portrait of a poet for her lover. A Victorian medium in one of the first photographic studies made. A young woman during World War I and another in contemporary times, photographed by a young man reading at a bar. And a woman in the near-future tracking her way through cyberspace. Seven portraits of seven girls (or women) reading in a truly original-sounding debut that won raves in Great Britain. Sounds a bit like the gorgeous time trip in Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue; can’t wait to read.

Wilson, Susan. The Dog Who Danced. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312674991. $24.99. CD: Macmillan Audio.
My name is Justine Meade and in my forty-three years there have only been a handful of people that I have loved. No, that’s an exaggeration. Two. Two that I lost because of stupidity and selfishness. One was my son. The other was my dog. That nicely sums up this latest from Wilson, who also gave us the heartbreaker (and best seller) One Good Dog. Even as Justine searches desperately for Mack, her gray-and-white Sheltie, Mack is doing wonders for a troubled couple he has run across in his wanderings. Multiple hankies, dog lovers‚ and pay attention to the big-bark publicity.

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.