Fiction Reviews, April 15, 2012

starred review starGreenslade, Frances. Shelter. Free Pr: S. & S. May 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781451661101. pap. $15. F

This quiet but powerful first novel feels like the best sort of campfire story‚ slow to build, with flickering flashes of insight mixed with a slightly ominous foreboding and elements of native folklore. Set in the Chilcotin region of northern British Columbia, it tells the story of two sisters, Jenny and Maggie, who grow up without running water, electricity, and many other comforts except the love of their parents, Irene and Patrick, and the beauty of the natural world around them. When Patrick dies in a logging accident, Irene leaves her daughters to board with a neighbor in Williams Lake while she searches for work. Her letters dwindle, then stop. The girls finally realize that they have been abandoned and that it is up to them to build the shelter‚ both physical and emotional‚ to sustain themselves as they move into adulthood. Maggie is a strong, resourceful heroine intent on finding out what happened to her mother. VERDICT This moving novel is an easy choice for book clubs, particularly those interested in learning more about the Pacific Northwest. ‚ Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA

starred review starHaynes, Elizabeth. Into the Darkest Corner. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9780062197252. $24.99. F

Catherine is a happy, outgoing, thirty something, enjoying her work and active social life until she meets handsome, charismatic, intelligent, and sexy Lee. Before long, Lee becomes manipulative, suspicious, angry, and very violent but also manages to fool Catherine’s friends. Caught in a classic abusive relationship, Catherine first tries to placate Lee and fights to escape. He nearly kills her and is jailed, while a traumatized Catherine is left with a terrifying case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). As she struggles to repair her life, she meets Stuart, a doctor in a local mental health clinic. Though understandably wary of another relationship, Catherine finds a real friend in the caring, compassionate, and supportive Stuart. But when Lee is released from prison, Catherine’s panic attacks return. The intricate narrative that alternates between Catherine’s past life with Lee and her present situation with Stuart grabs readers and leads them to the unsettling yet satisfying ending. VERDICT UK police intelligence analyst Haynes has crafted a scary and superbly written debut thriller. Her chilling portrayal of OCD and the violent cycles of an abusive relationship will cause readers to lose sleep and check the locks on windows and doors. The characters are real, and the dramatic tension created by Catherine’s painful efforts to heal keeps readers tightly engaged. Fans of S.J. Watson, Lisa Gardner, and Susan Hill will welcome this new entrant to the genre. [See Prepub Alert, 1/16/12.]‚ Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA

starred review starJones, Sadie. The Uninvited Guests. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780062116505. $24.99. F

Can there be anything more properly British than a weekend house party in the country? The down-on-their-luck Torrington siblings, who with their mother and stepfather make up the household, have great hopes for this weekend for many reasons; it would appear that the few invited guests have motives of their own for coming. It is the entirely unexpected and somehow unusual group of passengers from a railway accident, foisted on the household, who will provide a catalyst for true change by the end of the novel. VERDICT Excellent characterization combines with a plot sprinkled with hints of secrets to be revealed to produce a page-turning read that blurs the edges of the country house mystery. In her third novel (after the Costa First Novel Award‚ winning The Outcast and Small Wars), Jones demonstrates a talented writer’s versatile imagination and originality. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]‚ Pamela O’Sullivan, SUNY at Brockport Lib.

The following titles are reviewed in the April 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

Baker, Jo. The Undertow. Knopf. May 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780307957092. $25.95. F

Cook, Claire. Wallflower in Bloom. Touchstone: S. & S. Jun. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9781451672763. $24.99. F

Dietrich, William. The Emerald Storm: An Ethan Gage Adventure. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780061989209. $25.99. F

Ferraris, Zoe. Kingdom of Strangers.Little, Brown. Jun. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780316074247. $25.99. F

Freudenberger, Nell. The Newlyweds. Knopf. May 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780307268846. $25.95. F

Galland, Nicole. I, Iago. Morrow. May 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780062126873 . pap. $14.99. F

Goldstein, Paul. Havana Requiem. Farrar. May 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780809053933. $26. F

Gortner, C.W. The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile. Ballantine. Jun. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780345523969. $26. F

Grecian, Alex. The Yard. Putnam. Jun. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780399149542. $26.95. F

Klise, Kate. In the Bag. Morrow. May 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780062108050. pap. $14.99. F

Lynch, Jim. Truth Like the Sun. Knopf. Apr. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780307958686 . $25.95. F

O’Neal, Barbara. The Garden of Happy Endings. Bantam. May 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9780553386783. pap. $15. F

Racine, David. Welcome to Zero City Baby. Dufour. May 2012. c.464p. ISBN 9780802313515. pap. $15.95. F

Ratner, Vaddey. In the Shadow of the Banyan. S. & S. Aug. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9781451657708. $25. F

starred review starRice, Luanne. Little Night. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jun. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780670023561. $26.95. F

starred review starRogan, Charlotte. The Lifeboat. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Apr. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780316185905. $24.99. F

Sultan, Rosie. Helen Keller in Love. Viking. May 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9780670023493. $25.95. F

Theroux, Paul. The Lower River. Houghton Harcourt. May 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780547746500. $25. F