Fiction Previews: May 2012, Pt. 1: Balogh, Berry, Buckley, and the Rest

Balogh, Mary. The Proposal. Delacorte. May 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780385343329. $26. eISBN 9780345533579. ROMANCE
A beloved if minor character in several of Balogh’s Slightly novels, Lady Gwendoline Muir now gets a book of her own. Having lost her husband in an accident and injured herself in a horseback fall, Gwen decides that romance will no longer figure in her life. Of course she’s wrong. Some 11.3 million copies of Balogh’s books are in print, and she keeps debuting higher and higher on the New York Times best sellers list, so romance fans will want.

Berry, Steve. The Columbus Affair. Ballantine. May 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780345526519. $27; eISBN 9780345526533. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
A journalist who’s blown his reputation, Tom Sagan has a more immediate concern: he must rescue his daughter from a religious zealot. As a result, he finds himself on a journey from Florida to Prague to Jamaica, hunting for a priceless historical treasure that will change how we look at Christopher Columbus. This is the first standalone since 2006’s The Templar Legacy from the high-flying Berry (12 million books in print worldwide and counting). Get for all thriller fans‚ and keep an eye out forBerry’s eight- to ten-city tour, in the works now.

Buckley, Christopher. They Eat Puppies, Don’t They? Twelve: Hachette. May 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780446540971. $25.95. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Bird McIntyre, aWashington lobbyist and novelist manqué with a few really bad thrillers in his closet, and Neo-Con Wonkette Angel Templeton want to make sure that Congress approves a top-secret weapons system. So they start a rumor that the Chinese secret service wants to assassinate the Dalai Lama. Expect more barbed political humor from Buckley, who sells quite nicely.

Clark, Marcia. Guilt by Degrees. Mulholland: Little, Brown. May 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780316129534. $25.99. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
D.A. Rachel Knight is back‚ as is Clark, former prosecutor for the State of California, who gave us the O.J. Simpson trial. Here, someone is clearly gunning for Rachel, who’s been assigned a near-impossible murder case involving a homeless man. But Rachel makes headway with the help of her buddy, Det. Bailey Keller, finding a connection to the murder of an LAPD cop. Clark’s nicely terse prose has won fans; with a six-city tour to Houston, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Falco, Edward. The Family Corleone. Grand Central. May 2012. ISBN 9780446574624. $27.99. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
As the nation staggers under the Depression, Vito Corleone has other worries. The end of Prohibition means that different crime organizations will be duking it out to see which will reach the top and which will fall violently. Meanwhile, Vito ponders the future of his three youngest children, even as 17-year-old Sonny agitates to follow his father into the family business. An all-new prequel to The Godfather by, interestingly, the author of numerous novels, plays, poems, and essays who has won a Robert Penn Warren Prize.

Kenyon, Sherrilyn. Born of Silence. (The League, Bk. 5). Grand Central. May 2012. 500p. ISBN 9780446573313. $24.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. PARANORMAL
Even as Darling Cruel plots to bring down his uncle, the man who murdered his father (shades of Hamlet), he worries about alter ego Kere, who threatens Darling’s family, particularly his mother and siblings (not shades of Hamlet). When Zarya, leader of the Resistance, challenges the family, using a weapon Darling himself had trustingly given to her, Darling gets mad (and even) by becoming the true Kere‚ the Caronese god of death. With 25 million copies of the prolific Kenyon’s books circulating worldwide and her titles having made the New York Times best sellers list 60 times since 2004, this book‚ fifth in The League series‚ is a no-brainer purchase for popular collections. Buy multiples.

Miéville, China. Railsea. Del Rey: Ballantine. May 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780345524522. $18. eISBN 9780345524546. Downloadable: Random Audio. SF
At the edge of the world, a young doctor’s assistant named Sham ap Soorap discovers an old train wreck‚ and evidence of a daring mission left uncompleted. Of course he’s eager to finish the task. Miéville has won all the awards (Hugo, British Science Fiction, British Fantasy, World Fantasy, Arthur C. Clarke, and Locus), some repeatedly, and is a repeat best-selling author as well. Essential for sf collections, and catch Miéville at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, where he was guest of honor in 2010.

Miller, Jennifer. The Year of the Gadfly. Houghton Harcourt. May 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780547548593. $24. POP FICTION
Ugly rumors are flying at a distinguished prep school called Mariana Academy, and aspiring journalist Iris Dupont‚ who claims the ghost of Edward R. Murrow as a friend‚ intends to uncover the source by breaking into the secret ranks of an underground newspaper that serves a shadowy student entity called Prisom’s Party. But what she finds leaves her conflicted. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, Amber Dermont’s forthcoming The Starboard Sea, even Portnoy’s Complaint for girls, as Gary Shteyngart has it; Miller’s coming of ager would seem to fit in nicely with these titles.

Moore, Meg Mitchell. So Far Away. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. May 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780316097697. $25.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Suffering through her parents’ nasty divorce and the cyberbullying of her former best friend, 13-year-old Natalie Gallagher discovers an old diary in the basement and starts reading. Subsequent research leads her to the Massachusetts State Archives, where she befriends Kathleen Lynch, a widow estranged from her daughter. The diary ends up teaching something to them both. Moore did nicely with her debut, The Arrivals, so keep an eye on this one.

Rucka, Greg. Alpha. Mulholland: Little, Brown. May 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780316182287. $24.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
An Eisner Award‚ winning graphic novel author (e.g., Batwoman: Elegy), also responsible for the Atticus Kodiak and Tara Chase series, introduces new thriller star Jad Bell, a Delta Force operative working undercover at a theme park called Wilsonville. The theme park has been targeted by terrorists, who start by announcing that a dirty bomb is hidden somewhere in the park, then escalate the nastiness considerably. A good bet.

Patterson, James & Maxine Paetro. The 11th Hour. Little, Brown. May 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780316097499. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
The 11th Women’s Murder Club novel‚ and the eighth coauthored by Paetro‚ this book again features Det. Lindsay Boxer, who faces two troubling events. First, a millionaire has been killed with a gun that was used to dispatch several top San Francisco criminals‚ and stolen from Lindsay’s own locker. Second, two severed heads are found neatly mounted in a renowned actor’s garden, and Lindsay expects that more gruesome body parts will be dug up shortly. More Patterson, more multiples; Middle School: Just Got Worse, a children’s title from Patterson, will be published on May 7, and the books will share a marketing campaign of $2 million.

Roby, Kimberla Lawson. The Reverend’s Wife. Grand Central. May 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780446572477. $24.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Next in the Reverend Curtis Black series from best-selling author Roby: the wife of the not-always-saintly Reverend Black has admitted to having affairs with two different men, and even as she tries to save the marriage, the Reverend promises that he’s out of there as soon as their son graduates from high school. As always, Roby engages on the nitty-gritty personal level; with a five-city tour to Atlanta, Jackson, Birmingham, Nashville, and Louisville.

Shepherd, Lynn. The Solitary House. Delacorte. May 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780345532428. $26; eISBN 9780345533555. HISTORICAL SUSPENSE
Shepherd’s debut, Murder at Mansfield Park, investigated troubled doings in Jane Austen’s world from the perspective of a minor Austen character‚ and went on to win awards, including Best First Mystery from Romantic Times. Her new work revivifies Victorian London. Charles Maddox, kicked off the police force and now an independent detective, has been asked by powerful solicitor Edward Tulkinghorn to assist a client who has been receiving threatening letters. For help, Maddox turns to his uncle, a legendary detective now hobbled by ill health. The book is being compared to Iain Pears’s An Instance of the Fingerpost and recommended for Dickens and Wilkie Collins fans; buy accordingly.

Tilghman, Christopher. The Right-Hand Shore. Farrar. May 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780374203481. $27. LITERARY
Fifteen years after publishing the lovely Mason’s Retreat, Tilghman revisits the Mason family estate inChesapeake Bay. In 1922, a dying Mary Bayly determines to will the estate to Edward Mason, the closest direct descendant of the original owner whom she can find. Mason drops by for what he thinks will be a perfunctory visit, only to stay all day listening to Miss Mary’s resoundingly fascinating tales about the family, its land, and its history. Not the least of her stories is of Miss Mary’s grandfather rushing to sell his slaves in 1857 so that he won’t suffer any reprisals once Emancipation comes. Definite for your more thoughtful readers.

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.