Fiction Reviews, January 2012

starred review starFaye, Lyndsay. The Gods of Gotham. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Mar. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780399158377. $25.95. F

Faye’s new novel, after the Sherlockian thriller Dust and Shadow, focuses on the growing distrust toward Irish Catholic immigrants in 1840s New York. Badly scarred and rendered destitute after a city fire, barman Timothy Wilde takes a job on the newly formed police force at the urging of his politically connected older brother, Valentine. As a Copper Star, Tim is well suited to investigation, and he stumbles on a mystery involving murdered children and one of New York’s most infamous brothels. Mercy Underhill, a devoted social worker and the object of Tim’s unspoken affection, is drawn into the case as she tries to protect her wards. Tim searches for answers amid political scheming, nativist sentiments, and anti-Catholic riots. VERDICT The Wilde brothers are a valiantly flawed pair (they commit illegal acts for good reasons) whose adventures dramatically light up this turbulent era. Faye’s use of flash, an underground language akin to thieves’ cant (British criminal jargon), further enriches this engrossing historical thriller, the first in a new series. [See Prepub Alert, 10/2/11.]‚ Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL

starred review starHannah, Kristin. Home Front. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780312577209. $27.99. F

Hannah’s (Night Road; Winter Garden) latest is an emotional, honest, and timely read that depicts the life of a military family from a female perspective. Jolene is a mother who protects her two children, Betsy and Lulu, with ubiquitous positivity, but she can’t preserve her marriage with Michael and their growing distance and fading love. Michael has never embraced Jolene’s job as a helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard, and their relationship grows more strained when Jolene and her best friend are deployed to Iraq. Over the course of her tour, Jolene is understandably changed‚ she’s broken both physically and mentally when she returns home. And Michael, too, has changed. Can they try to love again with this new life before them? VERDICT Hannah has written a remarkable tale of duty, love, strength, and hope that is at times poignant and always thoroughly captivating and relevant. Buy multiples for her many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]‚ Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L.

starred review starHarris, Robert. The Fear Index. Knopf. Feb. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780307957931. $25.95. F

Physicist Alexander Hoffman left CERN (builder of the Large Hadron Collider, an underground particle accelerator near Geneva) following a nervous breakdown. Since then he has continued to develop his algorithmically programmed computer, VIXAL-4, a machine capable of operating independently and teaching itself at a rate far beyond the ability of human beings. Unable to use CERN’s data to test his machine, Hoffman and a colleague set up a hedge fund run by VIXAL that monitors fear throughout the digital world to make financial decisions. So far, over the four years during which the stock market has tanked, the machine has helped them increase their assets by over 80 percent. But now, someone is manipulating Hoffman’s work to convince others that he’s suffered another breakdown. When everyone else thinks you’re crazy, but you know you’re not, how do you face the fear…and not go mad? And how do you face the horror of a machine that has outpaced all human efforts to control it? VERDICT Harris’s (Imperium) outstanding thriller, a worthy successor to Frankenstein and 2001: A Space Odyssey, will kindle readers’ minds from the first page. Get ready to enjoy a brilliant integration of fascinating research, compelling themes, and vivid characterization. [Five-city tour; 200,000-copy first printing; see Prepub Alert, 11/3/11.]‚ Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson

starred review starMcComas, Mary Kay. What Happened to Hannah. Morrow. Feb. 2012. c.329p. ISBN 9780062084781. pap. $14.99. F

Hannah Benson has been hiding in plain sight at her Baltimore insurance firm since she ran away from home 20 years ago, the night her mother finally killed Hannah’s abusive father. Most of Hannah’s Clearfield, VA, neighbors, including old boyfriend Grady Steadman, assumed her father had killed his oldest daughter as a swan song. Still, Hannah is surprised when Grady, having learned the truth several years ago, calls with the news that her mother has died, leaving behind Hannah’s 15-year-old niece, Anna, whom Hannah didn’t know existed. She didn’t even know her sister, Ruth, had died five years earlier. Track star Anna needs her family, and the now-divorced Grady, father of two teens of his own and Clearfield’s sheriff, thinks Hannah is the answer. Despite her lack of maternal instincts, Hannah is captivated by the lovely and graceful Anna. Maybe she can manage until her niece turns 18, just not in Clearfield and not in proximity to Grady. VERDICT McComas (coauthor, The Unquiet) delivers a soulful examination of how children survive brutality by developing a hard shell of distrust. Can patience and love from Grady and Anna help to make the past recede for Hannah? A satisfying and well-written read. [Online reading group guide.]‚ Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

starred review starPavone, Chris. The Expats. Crown. Mar. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780307956354. $26. F

Kate is a young mom cozily wrapped up in her expat life in tiny Luxembourg‚ her two young sons and husband fill her days. What keeps her up at night glued to the Internet is the suspicion that a couple of casual buddies she met on the cocktail circuit are really assassins. Fueled by her 15 years as a covert CIA agent, Kate’s obsession soon leads her to deeply hidden plots that involve 50 million euros, a suddenly flaky husband with curiously muddy shoes, and herrings‚ red and not‚ that rip her comfy world to tatters. VERDICT Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable, this debut thriller breaks the espionage genre bounds with its American-as-apple-pie heroine. Standing on the shoulders of such giants as Robert Littell, Gayle Lynds, Eric Ambler, Helen MacInnes, and Daniel Silva, Pavone displays the best characteristics of the form and will earn a faithful and yearning readership. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/11; see the Q&A with Pavone on p. 98.]‚ Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, Va

starred review starChaon, Dan. Stay Awake. Ballantine. Feb. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780345530370. $25. F

National Book Award finalist Chaon follows up his critically acclaimed novel Await Your Reply with this disquieting collection of 12 stories. His characters are everyday people experiencing extreme emotional situations that pull them into a strange, shadowy otherworld. In The Bees, five-year-old Frankie suffers from nightmares, while father Zach has dreams that feel like bees buzzing in his head about an ex-wife and son he deserted years ago. In Patrick Lane, Flabbergasted, Brandon Fowler lives alone in a family house where his parents killed themselves; one night, he senses the house creeping in on him. In Slowly We Open Our Eyes, brothers Smokey and Donnie O’Sullivan are traveling cross-country to their grandmother’s funeral when they swerve to miss a deer and have an accident that changes everything. In the title story, Zach and Amber’s new baby, Rosalie, is born with two heads. Soon after his daughter’s birth, Zach is paralyzed in an auto accident and begins obsessing about the parasitic head. VERDICT The powerful writing in this intense and suspenseful collection draws us into the emotional maelstroms experienced by the characters. A highly recommended work, not to be missed. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]‚ Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO

The following titles are reviewed in the January print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

Almino, Jo√£o. The Book of Emotions. Dalkey Archive. Jan. 2012. from Portuguese by Elizabeth Jackson. ISBN 9781564786814. $19.95. F

Aubry, Gwenaëlle. No One. Tin House. Feb. 2012. c.160p. tr. from French by Trista Selous. ISBN 9781935639220. pap. $12.95. F

Barth, John. Every Third Thought. Counterpoint. 2011. c.208p. ISBN 9781582437552. $24. F

Behrens, Peter. The O’Briens. Pantheon. Mar. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780307379931. $25.95. F

Beyer, Marcel. Kaltenburg. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2012. c.352p. tr. from German by Alan Bance. ISBN 9780151013975. $26. F

Bisson, Terry. Any Day Now. Overlook, dist by Penguin. Mar. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9781590207093. $24.95. F

Blake, James Carlos. Country of the Bad Wolfes. Cinco Puntos, dist. by Consortium. Jan. 2012. c.484p. ISBN 9781935955030. pap. $16.95. F

Caldwell, Laura. Question of Trust. Mira: Harlequin. Mar. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780778313212. pap. $7.99. F

Cameron, Peter. Coral Glynn. Farrar. Mar. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780374299019. $25. F

Dau, Stephen. The Book of Jonas. Blue Rider: Penguin Group (USA). Mar. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780399158452. $24.95. F

duBois, Jennifer. A Partial History of Lost Causes. Dial: Random. Mar. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9781400069774. $26. F

Epstein, Leslie. Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Leib Goldkorn. Norton. Feb. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780393081312. $25.95. F

Erickson, Steve. These Dreams of You. Europa, dist. by Penguin. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781609450632. pap. $16. F

Faye, Lyndsay. The Gods of Gotham. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Mar. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780399158377. $25.95. F

Ferriss, Lucy. The Lost Daughter. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA). Feb. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780425245569. pap. $15. F

Ford, Richard. Canada. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780061692048. $26.99. F

Funder, Anna. All That I Am. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780062077561. $25.99. F

Grossman, Paul. Children of Wrath. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780312601911. $25.99. F

Hand, Elizabeth. Available Dark: A Crime Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9780312585945. $23.99. F

Hannah, Kristin. Home Front. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780312577209. $27.99. F

Harris, Robert. The Fear Index. Knopf. Feb. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780307957931. $25.95. F

Hayder, Mo. Hanging Hill. Atlantic Monthly. Feb. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780802120069. $25. F

Houellebecq, Michel. The Map and the Territory. Knopf. Jan. 2012. c.288p. tr. from French by Gavin Bowd. ISBN 9780307701558. $26.95. F

Houston, Pam. Contents May Have Shifted. Norton. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780393082654. $25.95. F

Jahn, Ryan David. The Dispatcher. Penguin. Jan. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780143120704. pap. $15. F

Karunatilaka, Shehan. The Legend of Pradeep Mathew. Graywolf. May 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9781555976118. pap. $16. F

Kluge, P.F. The Master Blaster. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. Apr. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781590203224. $25.95. F

Leonard, Elmore. Raylan. Morrow. Feb. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780062119469. $26.99. F

McComas, Mary Kay. What Happened to Hannah. Morrow. Feb. 2012. c.329p. ISBN 9780062084781. pap. $14.99. F

Mars, Julie. Rust. Permanent. Feb. 2012. c.160p. ISBN 9781579622268. $26. F

Okimoto, Jean Davies. Walter’s Muse. Endicott & Hugh Bks. Feb. 2012. 354p. ISBN 9780983711513. pap. $16.99. F

Paretsky, Sara. Breakdown. Putnam. Jan. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780399157837. $26.95. F

Pavone, Chris. The Expats. Crown. Mar. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780307956354. $26. F

Perinot, Sophie. The Sister Queens. NAL: Penguin Group (USA). Mar. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780451235701. pap. $15. F

Peters, Ralph. Cain at Gettysburg. Forge: Tor. Feb. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780765330475. $25.99. F

Phan, Aimee. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780312322687. $25.99. F

Polites, Taylor M. The Rebel Wife. S. & S. Feb. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781451629514. $25. F

Preston, Douglas & Lincoln Child. Gideon’s Corpse. Grand Central. Jan. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780446564373. $26.99. F

Rogers, Morgan Callan. Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea. Viking. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780670023400. $26.95. F

Rosnay, Tatiana de. The House I Loved. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780312593308. $25.99. F

Sada, Daniel. Almost Never. Graywolf. Apr. 2012. c.344p. tr. from Spanish by Katherine Silver. ISBN 9781555976095. pap. $16. F

Saer, Juan José. Scars. Open Letter. 2011. c.278p. tr. from Spanish by Steve Dolph. ISBN 9781934824221. pap. $14.95. F

Schulman, Audrey. Three Weeks in December. Europa, dist. by Penguin. Feb. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9781609450649. pap. $16. F

Scotch, Allison Winn. The Song Remains the Same. Putnam. Apr. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780399157585. $25.95. F

Sharp, Zoë. Fifth Victim: A Charlie Fox Thriller. Pegasus Crime. Jan. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9781605982762. $25.95. F

Shibli, Adania. We Are All Equally Far from Love. Clockroot: Interlink Pub. Group. Jan. 2012. c.144p. tr. from Arabic by Paul Starkey. ISBN 9781566568630. pap. $15. F

Spufford, Francis. Red Plenty. Graywolf. Feb. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9781555976040. pap. $16. f/hIST

Tuccelli, Jessica Maria. Glow. Viking. Mar. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780670023318. $25.95. F

Whyte, Jack. The Forest Laird: A Tale of William Wallace. Forge: Tor. Feb. 2012. c.512p. ISBN 9780765331564. $25.99. F

Short stories

Chaon, Dan. Stay Awake. Ballantine. Feb. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780345530370. $25. F

James, Tania. Aerogrammes: And Other Stories. Knopf. Apr. 2012. c.192p. ISBN 9780307268914. $24. F

Lee, Michael Jeffrey. Something in My Eye. Sarabande, dist. by Consortium. Feb. 2012. c.184p. ISBN 9781936747054. pap. $15.95. F

Simpson, Helen. In-Flight Entertainment. Knopf. Feb. 2012. c.176p. ISBN 9780307595584. $24. F


Griggs, Vanessa Davis. Forever Soul Ties. Dafina: Kensington. Jan. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780758259646. pap. $15. cF