Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, December 16, 2011

Week ending December 16, 2011

Baer, Neal & Jonathan Greene. Kill Switch. Kensington. Jan. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780758266866. $25. F
A kill switch is akin to the big red button on a piece of machinery‚ in an emergency, when pressed, it shuts the entire mechanism down. Claire Waters, a brilliant, beautiful forensic psychiatrist, has decided that she will perform this function for serial killers by shutting down their primal urge to kill and guiding them through their childhood memories to help them become normal. Unfortunately, her first case is under the guidance of Dr. Paul Curtain, who has his own peculiar agenda, and brings her into contact with Todd Quimby, a drug and sexual abuser who is starting to crumble. He admits that he goes into rages and thinks about killing women of a certain type. When Quimby escapes New York City’s Rikers Island and these women start to die, Claire partners with homicide detective Nick Lawler.
Verdict The co‚ executive producers of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ER, and A Gifted Man have written a decent debut thriller with believable medical jargon and plots, well-rounded characters, and an ending that is difficult to guess. Fans of psychological thrillers will look forward to more adventures with Claire Waters.‚ Marianne Fitzgerald, Severna Park H.S., MD

Doctorow, Cory. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. PM Pr., dist. by IPG. (Outspoken Authors). Jan. 2012. 136p. ISBN 9781604864045. pap. $12. SF
The title of this novella comes from the theme song to the Disney ride The Carousel of Progress, and the tale itself moves its protagonist through different future eras. Jimmy Yesnid is a bioengineered-to-be-immortal child living with his father in the ruins of Detroit. Jimmy plays with his robot dogs while his father curates his vast collection of items from the past, including a carousel. When their home is attacked, Jimmy flees into the changed world. Rampaging robots that devour anything made by mankind haunt him throughout his life as he reflects on change and the impermanence of all we do. This brief volume also includes Doctorow’s address to the 2010 World SF Convention on Copyright vs. Creativity and an incisive interview about his fiction and nonfiction writing, online presence, and advocacy.
For readers new to speculative fiction, this work serves as a wonderful introduction to the work of this inventive SF (and more) author (Little Brother). His fans will also want to add this to their reading list.‚ Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green

Horowitz, Anthony. The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel. Mulholland: Little, Brown. 2011. c.304p. ISBN 9780316196994. $29.99. M
This first Sherlock Holmes novel to be authorized by Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate opens in 1908 with a retired Dr. Watson laying pen to paper a final time to recount the most scandalous case of Holmes’s career. After a genteel London art dealer who is being followed by a stranger in a flat cap requests their aid, Watson and Holmes quickly find themselves racing through a warren of slums, orphanages, and opium dens in search of the mysterious House of Silk. What they discover threatens to shake London society to its very core.
Devotees will thrill at the familiar dynamics and references to the Holmes canon while general mystery enthusiasts will appreciate the tight, compelling plot and nuanced characters. Lovingly crafted by the best-selling author of the Alex Rider series, this novel may serve as either an epilog for die-hard fans or an introduction for newbies to the famous duo. [See Prepub Alert, 5/16/11.]‚ Elizabeth Hanson, Chicago P.L.

Knox, Tom. The Lost Goddess. Viking. Jan. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9780670023189. $26.95. F
In a French limestone cave, archaeologist Julia Kerrigan makes the discovery of her career‚ a Neolithic mass grave‚ but after sharing her find with her mentor, she is dismissed from the dig. Determined to prove her theory that the grave is a display of prehistoric guilt, Julia pursues the mystery to the Black Sea and on to Asia. Meanwhile, photographer Jake Thurby follows a beautiful Cambodian lawyer deep into the jungle to unearth the secrets of the Khmer Rouge hidden at the 2000-year-old Plain of Jars. Linking the two discoveries is a bloodthirsty young woman seeking vengeance for horrors unimagined by Jake and Julia. From prehistoric caves in France to the temples of Angkor Wat, the answers to the couple’s questions are shocking and terrifying.
Mixing Cambodian history and mythology, exotic settings, and somewhat heavy-handed foreshadowing, Knox’s latest adventure thriller (The Genesis Secret) is an entertaining yet solid read that addresses a terrifying period in Cambodia’s past without being flippant or maudlin. Knox’s growing number of fans, as well as Dan Brown aficionados, should enjoy this new work. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]‚ Michelle Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ., Huntsville, TX

Wolper, Carol. Anne of Hollywood. Gallery: S. & S. Jan. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781451657210. $25. F
Anne Boleyn wants to be Hollywood media mogul Henry Tudor’s queen, and she doesn’t care that her sister dated him previously. Anne succeeds in her quest, but, unfortunately, some people aren’t happy about their marriage, including Henry’s first wife and his business advisor; both would love to see Anne lose her crown and throne. In this clever retelling of the Boleyn story, minus the beheading, best-selling author Wolper (Secret Celebrity; The Cigarette Girl) bases her modern characters on historical figures, including Henry and Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth; Anne’s siblings, George and Mary; a nefarious Cromwell; Henry’s ex-wife, Catherine; and Henry’s mistress, Jane Seymour.
Readers should brush up on their Tudor history before diving into this entertaining Tinsel Town novel in order to fully appreciate Wolper’s fresh take on a now-too-familiar story. The book moves quickly and is peppered with some naughty words and sexual exploits. Fans of showbiz fiction and Showtime’s The Tudors will appreciate.‚ Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib, NY

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"