Fiction Previews, Apr. 2012, Pt. 3: Crowned by Stephen King

Baldacci, David. The Innocent. Grand Central. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780446572996. $27.99. lrg prnt. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Hit man for the U.S. government when the FBI and the military won’t do (rather shocking, that), Will Robie softens up when he encounters a teenaged girl whose parents have disappeared. He keeps tabs on her even after he turns her over to the police, which means that someone starts keeping tabs on him. Meanwhile, Will senses that the girl is connected to a conspiracy much bigger than he had imagined. Baldacci is so popular that he’s now pushing out three books a year, and this latest will be in demand.

Child, Lee, ed. Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780316176347. $25.99. MYSTERY/THRILLER
Edited by the redoubtable Child, this collection offers 21 original stories featuring acts of vengeance by fed-up folks who take the law into their own hands. Big-name contributors include Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Karin Slaughter, and Child himself, which is a pretty impressive showing; strong younger writers like Alafair Burke and Jim Fusilli are here, too. Most mystery and thriller readers will want this, given the range of authors represented.

Clark, Carol Higgins. Gypped. Scribner. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781439170311. $25. CD: S. & S. Audio. MYSTERY
In Los Angeles with husband Jack, who is attending a business conference, PI Regan Reilly is asked by health-coach friend Zelda to investigate her business manager’s plans to invest in a new line of vitamins. Is the guy cheating Zelda? Actually, things are even worse. Clark turns out another fun mystery, and a tour with her mom, Mary Higgins Clark, will give it a big boost.

Clifford, Alicia. The Affair. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312376277. $25.99. POP FICTION
As friends and family gather for the funeral of beloved author Celia Bayley, an eager young journalist aiming to write a biography asks to go through the author’s journals, notebooks, and letters. Something of a surprise, the story thus revealed tells of a na√Øve young woman from reduced circumstances who marries a decorated World War II soldier and slowly comes into her own. A Macmillan library rep fave that’s sweet and thoughtful, this should appeal especially to those who liked the retrospective feel of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Margaret Leroy’s The Soldier’s Wife.

Grahame-Smith, Seth. Unholy Night. Grand Central. Apr. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780446563093. $24.99. lrg prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Having targeted the nearly sacred (Abraham Lincoln, Pride and Prejudice) for mash-up revisionism, Grahame-Smith moves on to the real thing, taking up the Three Kings who visited Jesus at his birth and imagining a very different tale. His three kings are in fact thieves who have escaped from Herod’s dank prison and have come upon the glowy manger by accident. When Herod starts slaughtering the innocents, the thieves reluctantly agree to help the Holy Family escape to Egypt. And that’s just the beginning of their adventure. Doubtless some readers will be offended‚ there’s a reason this wasn’t published around Christmas‚ but bound to be in demand by Grahame-Smith’s many fans.

King, Stephen. The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel. Scribner. Apr. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781451658903. $27. CD: S. & S. Audio. POP FICTION
In this latest Dark Tower book‚ the first since 2004, so you bet fans will be excited‚ King returns to Mid-World and the early years of gunslinger Roland Deschain. Even as the teenaged Roland mourns the death of his mother, his father sends him after the bloodthirsty, shape-shifting skin-man, whose latest rampage has left alive only a boy named Bill. Roland soothes the shattered child by telling him a story from the Book of Eld. Obviously, buy multiples‚ and look for the book trailer, author video, and Dark Tower landing page.

Martin, Charles. Thunder and Rain. Center Street: Hachette. April 2012. 368p. ISBN 9781455503988. $21.99. CD: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Fresh from Thomas Nelson, where he racked up a bunch of New York Times best sellers and made a film deal for The Mountain Between Us, Martin offers the tale of former Texas Ranger Tyler Steele. Tyler’s a cowboy at heart whose strong moral urge to protect the innocent parallels an inability to connect with his own wife. Now that she’s gone, and he’s raising his son on his own, he has a chance to redeem his life when he meets on-the-run Samantha and her daughter, Hope. Good for anyone who likes good, strong, old-fashioned, right-or-wrong reads, and Martin does have a following.

Prete, David. August and Then Some. Norton. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780393057997. $24.95. LITERARY
Jake Terri Savage helps build fancy outdoor spaces for the upper crust. Then he returns home to his cheap East Village apartment. He’s nice to his landlord’s daughter, who’s having boyfriend problems. But all the time he dwells on the single, avoidable event that led to his sister’s death. Prete won praise (and comparisons to Raymond Carver) for the strong, simple, cut-to-the-chase feel of his story collection, Say That to My Face. Inevitably, his backstory will bring readers‚ currently the partner of Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), Prete was the actor Elizabeth Gilbert dated between marriage and Eat Pray Love‚ but I hope they stay for the book itself.

Santora, Nick. Fifteen Digits. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Apr. 2012. 228p. ISBN 9780316176316. $24.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio.
Those 15 digits make up a bank account number a smart young lawyer gives to five men who labor for the prestigious law firm Olmstead & Taft, copying and delivering papers containing delicate legal secrets. Surely there’s a way that they can benefit from all that information. Santora, cocreator, executive producer, and writer for the hit A&E show Breakout Kings, found himself on multiple best sellers lists in 2007 with Slip and Fall; let’s see where this next one goes. Backed by a five-city tour to Houston, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Santora is apparently a social media whiz.

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.