Fiction Previews: Apr. 2012, Pt. 4: A Big Batch of Thrillers

Adams, Alex. White Horse. Atria: S. & S. Apr. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781451642995. $19.99. THRILLER
Zoe, who’s been cleaning cages at GeneTech, trying not to name the mice and dreaming of going back to college, suddenly discovers that she’s pregnant‚ and that her boyfriend has vanished, afraid that he has contracted a virus that is decimating humanity. Complicating matters (to say the least), the President announces that humans are no longer a viable species. Now Zoe is on the run, trying to figure out what being human really means. Told in alternating before-and-after chapters, this is the first book in a debut trilogy that seems to be getting some play. Watch for fans of postapocalyptic fiction.

Archer, Jeffrey. The Sins of the Father. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781250000972. $27.99. CD: Macmillan Audio. THRILLER
In this follow-up to Only Time Will Tell, another big Archer best seller, Harry Clifton has despaired of marrying his true love and joined the Merchant Marine. But Harry’s ship is sunk by a U-Boat (it’s World War II, and Britain is about to declare war on Germany), and the few survivors are picked up by an American cruiser, including Harry and third officer Tom Bradshaw, who happens to be American. Harry determines to escape his mucked-up past by assuming Bradshaw’s identity but finds himself in an even bigger mess once he lands in New York. With a one-day laydown on April 3 and extensive promotion, including a social media campaign (Archer has over 100,000 Facebook fans). Consider multiples.

Clark, Mary Higgins. The Lost Years. S. & S. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781451668865. $26.99. CD: S. & S. Audio. THRILLER
What a find: a letter on crumbly parchment, purportedly written by Jesus Christ and stolen from the Vatican in the 1400s. Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons attempts to confirm his findings discreetly. Then he’s murdered and his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is found clutching the weapon. But their daughter, Mariah, believes that the now-vanished parchment is the solution to the murder. What she doesn’t know is that there’s an eyewitness to the murder who’s complicating things through blackmail. I like the religious overtones; obviously, buy lots.

Dallas, Sandra. True Sisters. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781250005021. $24.99.
Dallas, who did such a lovely job with last year’s The Bride’s House, offers a tale of historical fiction inspired by Brigham Young’s efforts to recruit Mormon converts by giving them handcarts they were then to wheel across the desert to Salt Lake City. For one of the last groups of converts leaving Iowa, the trek proved disastrous‚ but it did allow four women to bond in crucial ways. Solid for discussion groups; read an excerpt.

Evans, Richard Paul. The Road to Grace: The Third Journal in the Walk Series. S. & S. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781451628180. $19.99. POP FICTION
In The Walk, Seattle ad exec Alan Christoffersen lost everything and determined to find his life by walking all the way to Key West, FL. In Miles To Go, the second book in the series, Alan determined to help a woman who has helped him. Now he continues his walk, and though I have no clue what will happen or even how far along he is, I’m betting that this book will be as well received and as inspirational as the first two titles. Buy multiples.

Feist, Raymond. A Crown Imperiled: Book Two of the Chaoswar Saga. Harper Voyageur: Morrow. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780061468414. $27.99. FANTASY
We’re up to the second installment of the Chaoswar trilogy, the fifth and final series in the Riftwar saga, and the last battle for Midkemia has begun. The Kesh are on the march, and what’s worse, a big new threat has arisen‚ one that perhaps even master magician Pug cannot conquer. Lots of fans out there (millions of copies of the Riftwar books are in print), and they’ll be anticipating; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Hepinstall, Kathy. Blue Asylum. Houghton. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780547712079. $24. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
This new novel from the author of The House of Gentle Men has an intriguing premise. Iris Dunleavy isn’t crazy, but she’s nonconformist enough to be sent away to an asylum by her slaveholding Southern husband. At the asylum, she meets a cast of remarkable characters, from the smug superintendent to a troubled Confederate soldier with whom she falls in love. Some of the methods at this modern hospital seem mad, but can Iris escape with her beloved? Watch this one.

Kennedy, Douglas. Temptation. Atria: S. & S. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781451602104. pap. $16. POP FICTION
The author of literate page-turners like Leaving the World and The Moment, American-born Kennedy has always done spectacularly in Europe (the French gave him the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) and is finally getting his due back home. This latest, originally scheduled for November and featured in Prepub Alert, stars a Hollywood screenwriter who pays a price when he finally makes it big.

Johansen, Iris. What Doesn’t Kill You. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780312651237. $27.99. THRILLER
Remember Catherine Ling from Chasing the Night? Here’s her backstory as a child abandoned on the streets of Hong Kong and a teenager apprenticed to master assassin Hu Chang (poison is his métier). Now a CIA operative forever watching her back, Catherine discovers that Hu has created something truly deadly and goes after it. So does rogue operative John Gallo. With a one-day laydown on April 17; consider multiples.

Marklund, Lisa. Last Will. Atria: S. & S. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781451606928. $25. THRILLER
Annika Bengtzon is back, only this time she is not just a reporter. Having attended the Nobel Prize dinner in Stockholm, where she is knocked over by someone rushing away after shots are fired (and several world-class scholars fall dead), she’s also a witness. To find the culprit, she first must get in touch with an American assassin incongruously called the Kitten. Marklund has sold 12 million books worldwide in more than 30 languages and has been called the queen of Scandinavian crime fiction by no less a personage than Henning Mankell, so this new release would seem to be essential reading for just about any thriller fan.

Olshan, Joseph. Cloudland. Minotaur: St. Martin’s Apr. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781250000170. $24.99 LITERARY THRILLER
Olshan has been going great guns since 2003, when his first novel, Clara’s Heart, won Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers Competition. Here, big-time reporter‚ turned‚ household hints columnist Catherine Winslow is strolling near her Vermont home as spring blossoms when she discovers the body of a woman‚ clearly the latest victim of a serial killer haunting the valley. Of course she starts investigating. Rumored to be an in-one-sitting read; oh, and Kate Winslet (see Picks) called Olshan one of her favorite writers in O magazine.

Olson, Michael. Strange Flesh. S. & S. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781451627572. $25.THRILLER
Harvard dropout James Pryce now works as a topnotch hacker for RedRook security, and his latest assignment is up close and personal: he’s been hired to find Billy Randall, the billionaire multimedia artist brother of old flame Blythe. Wide-eyed about something called the Bleed‚ the moment when real and virtual selves intersect‚ Billy has designed an alternative reality game and vanished into a shady online world called NOD. To find him, James has to play the game. A first novel from a guy who tried investment banking but decided that online was the place to be; some in-house enthusiasm suggests that you should strongly consider, especially if you have Ernest Cline and Cory Doctorow fans.

Pekkanen, Sarah. These Girls. Washington Square: Atria. Apr. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781451612547. pap. $15. POP FICTION
Three young women, all in New York City. Cate has just been named features editor of Gloss magazine, and her roommate, Renee, wants to be the new Gloss beauty editor but is anxious about her weight‚ hence the black-market diet pills that are making her shake. Their new roommate, Abby, has abandoned grad school and a part-time job she loved but won’t let on why. Pekkanen is an international best seller in paperback; buy if you have fans of her work or of young-women-finding-themselves titles.

Roy, Anuradha, The Folded Earth. Free Pr: S. & S. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781451633337. pap. $14. LITERARY
Young and widowed, Maya tries to escape the world and her own troubled past by teaching school in a village in the foothills. Then outside agitators take over the local elections, splitting the village (and causing trouble for the peasant girl Maya is helping on the side). Her landlord’s charming nephew distracts Maya further. Roy did nicely with her debut, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, which was translated into 14 languages. This promises to appeal to literary readers, especially those interested in reading about India‚ which is a lot of folks. A Man Asian Literary Prize longlister.

Scottoline, Lisa. Come Home. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780312380823. $27.99. CD: Macmillan Audio. THRILLER
After a nasty divorce, pediatrician Jill Ruspoli and her middle school‚ aged daughter are doing well. Then Jill’s stepdaughter from a previous marriage lands on her doorstep, distraught because her father is dead‚ and only apparently from an overdose. Abby thinks it’s murder. Now is when Jill learns that being a mom has nothing to do with biology. A great lesson, tailor-made for discussion and doubtless nicely delivered by Scottoline, so the substantive reading group promotion is welcome. With a one-day laydown on April 10; consider multiples.

Slattery, Brian. Lost Everything. Tor. Apr. 2012. 304p. ISBN 978076529127. pap. $14.99. SF
War has come to America, tearing it apart, and a lone man travels up the Susquehanna River to rescue his wife and child. More I can’t tell you, except that Slattery is the author of the highly regarded sf literary novels Spaceman Blues and Liberation and that this bleakly futuristic tale is being compared to 1984 or The Hunger Games. Smart appeal.

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.