Fiction Previews, Apr. 2012, Pt. 2: William Boyd Leads the Thriller Pack

Boyd, William. Waiting for Sunrise. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780061876769. $25.99. THRILLER
In 1913 Vienna, young English actor Lysander Rief seeks psychotherapy, is accused of rape after launching a passionate affair with a seductive young sculptor, and escapes with the help of two dodgy British diplomats, who promptly enlist his help in a dangerous mission. Not your average thriller writer, Boyd has won the Costa/Whitbread Award twice and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. This work looks to be a layered and atmospheric consideration of culture, mores, and identity on the eve of World War I, framed by some tense and twisty doings. Thriller readers will enjoy, and even strictly literary sorts might want to consider. With a 40,000-copy first printing and some promotional heft.

Doughty, Louise. Whatever You Love. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780062094667. pap. $14.99; eISBN 9780062094674.
Laura has just endured that devastating event every parent fears and dreads: her nine-year-old daughter has been killed in a hit-and-run accident. Now she’s seeking the driver‚ the police aren’t having much luck‚ while contending with renewed pain about her daughter’s father, who left her for another woman. Doughty certainly has writing chops‚ she’s been longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award‚ and this novel has been optioned for film. Definitely worth investigating, though be prepared to hurt.

Farnsworth, Christopher. Red, White and Blood. Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399158933. $24.95. THRILLER
Nathaniel Cade is The President’s Vampire, as the second book in this series would have it. And has he got trouble: a political operative and a volunteer have been brutally dispatched while in a compromising situation, and their blood has been used to scribble IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK on the wall. Farnsworth seems to have been building since 2010’s Blood Oath, which did well enough, and the vampire craze is clearly deathless. Add to that the appeal of having real media figures featured in the book (Farnsworth has worked as staff writer, columnist and investigative reporter), and this should do well.

Kerr, Philip. Prague Fatale: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399159022. $26.95. THRILLER
In the eighth in a series featuring PI Bernie Gunther, which started off in late-1930s Berlin and has since moved on to World War II, our hero is home from the Eastern Front when his boss orders him to a country estate outside Prague. It’s bad enough that the guests are SS and SD high-ups, whom he wisely hates (an interesting aspect of this character is that he has a conscience). But then a guest is found dead in his room, the door secured. So, the old locked-room mystery in a particularly sticky setting. Nothing if not hard-boiled, and Kerr can pull it off; he recently won the British Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Award and Spain’s RBA International Prize for Crime Writing.

LaValle, Victor. Devil in Silver. Spiegel & Grau: Random. Apr. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9781400069866. $26; eISBN 9780679604860. HORROR
That old man with a bison’s head, roaming the mental ward each night at New Hyde Hospital? It’s the devil, who enjoys tormenting the patients. To defeat him, newcomer Skinny Ray joins forces with a cranky grandmother, an African immigrant, and a bipolar, teenaged Puerto Rican girl. Evidence that LaValle will do well here: his last novel, Big Machine, won the Shirley Jackson, Earnest Gaines, and American Book awards and got Best Book nods from at least a half-dozen venues. Lots of promotion, including to LibraryThing and Goodreads, and a short-story ebook will whet your appetite. I expect a lot of this book, and I don’t even read horror.

Margolin, Phillip. Capitol Murder: A Novel of Suspense. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780062069887. $25.99; eISBN 9780062069894. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. THRILLER
Late of Executive Privilege and Supreme Justice, P.I. Dana Miller and lawyer Brad Miller are back with a double-header problem: terrorists want to blow up a football stadium, and Executive Privilege serial killer Clarence Little escapes from death row. The ever-dependable Margolin will get a one-day laydown on April 3 and a 150,000-copy first printing. Buy multiples where Margolin is popular.

Quick, Amanda. Crystal Gardens. Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399159084. $25.95. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Jayne Ann Krentz writes contemporary romantic suspense under her own name but becomes Jayne Castle when she looks to the future and Amanda Quick when she looks to the past. So she’s clearly going historical here‚ the book is in fact set in Victorian England‚ and she’s again offering a psychic twist. The first book in a new series; fans will clamor.

Scotch, Allison Winn. The Song Remains the Same. Putnam. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780399157585. $25.95. POP FICTION
Plane-crash survivor Nell Slattery awakens in the hospital with no memory of what happened or, indeed, who she is. Friends and family try to help her reconstruct her past, but she begins suspecting their intentions‚ and their truthfulness. It’s old songs that really spark her memory. Like S.J. Watson’s recent Before I Go To Sleep, here’s a novel that investigates the role of memory and how our past and present selves are linked. Good for book clubs that want both entertainment and something worth discussing; from the New York Times best-selling Time of My Life.

Sheldon, Sidney & Tilly Bagshawe. Sidney Sheldon’s Angel of the Dark. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780062073419. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780062126894. $17.99. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Based on an idea from the archives of blockbuster author Sidney Sheldon and written in his style by the glam Bagshawe, who’s done other Sheldon composites (e.g., Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game), this book opens with the murder of elderly multimillionaire art dealer Andrew Jakes, the rape of his young wife, and the theft of his precious objets d’art. There are not leads, and the widow vanishes. Years later, Jakes’s estranged son digs around and finds several murders worldwide that follow the same pattern. With a 150,000-copy first printing and a one-day laydown on April 3; definitely buy if Sheldon still catches fire for your readers.

Woods, Stuart. Unnatural Acts: A Stone Barrington Novel. Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399158865. $26.95. THRILLER
Yup, Stone Barrington is back, and he’s got Holly Barker with him. Together they’re hunting for the missing son of a hedge-fund billionaire when a nasty face from the past pops up to greet them. Woods writes relentless blockbusters; stock up for fans.

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.