Fiction Previews, October 2012, Pt. 3: DeMille, Donoghue, Dunmore, & More

DeMille, Nelson. The Panther. Grand Central. Oct. 2012. 600p. ISBN 9780446580847. $27.99; lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
The author’s most recent novel, The Lion, which featured his popular hero John Corey, debuted in a tie for the top spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list in 2010. So readers will rejoice that Corey is back, working in antiterrorist capacity with his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, in Sana’a, Yemen. Their assignment? To track down the al-Qaeda operative responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole. Alas, things are not quite as they appear. Roar.

Donoghue, Emma. Astray. Little, Brown. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780316206297. $24.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. SHORT STORIES
Emigrants, runaways, and lovers; counterfeiters and slaves. The characters in Donoghue’s new story collection have all wandered far from home, and they’ve pushed psychological boundaries as well. The author of the uniquely voiced Man Booker finalist Room, which has sold over a million copies, does something interesting here. Aside from writing eye-popping stories, she provides endnotes for each story detailing its historical background‚ especially intriguing when her writing ranges from the Puritans’ Massachusetts to antebellum Louisiana to 1960s Toronto. Can’t wait to read.

Dunmore, Helen. The Greatcoat. Atlantic Monthly. Oct. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780802120601. $24. HISTORICAL
Having moved to Yorkshire in winter 1952 with her doctor husband, who’s often absent, Isabel Carey is feeling isolated. One night she wakes up freezing and, finding an RAF greatcoat abandoned in a cupboard, huddles under it for warmth. Then she hears a knock on the window and discovers a young man wearing a greatcoat just like hers. What follows is an intense affair, but who is this mysterious stranger? Orange Prize winner Dunmore makes the past shimmer, but here she’s making it spooky, too.

Harrison, Kim. Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond. Morrow. Oct. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780061974328. $24.99; eISBN 9780062207906. SHORT STORIES
With this short fiction collection, Harrison offers a new view of the Hollows‚ haunt of bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan, the star of Harrison’s best-selling series‚ while spinning out a few new fantasy worlds. Included are three new novellas, e.g., Million Dollar Baby, featuring elven tycoon Trent Kalamack’s efforts to rescue his daughter with the help of a pixy named Jenks, plus all her previously published short fiction. Bonbons for fans of a series that just keeps ramping up.

Kiesbye, Stefan.Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. Penguin: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780143121466. $15. HORROR
I’ve been promised that this is a really spooky novel‚ chilling right down to the title, taken from the dark nursery rhyme; its billing as Shirley Jackson meets the X-Files just cements the feeling. The setting is Hemmersmoor, a place seemingly out of time where fear creeps around every corner; there’s a manor whose inhabitants despise the townsfolk, an old mill no one dares mention, and dark talk of revenants in the pub. Four village children are about to find out what’s going on. A novel for the brave; from the author of There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby‚ clearly, Kiesbye has a macabre turn of mind.

Locke, Attica. The Cutting Season. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780061802058. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097743. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Locke follows up her multiple-prize-nominated debut, Black Water Rising, with a story set in contemporary Louisiana but freighted with implications from the past. A young woman is found with her throat cut on the antebellum plantation Belle Vie, regarded nostalgically by some and reviled by others as a living reminder of slavery. Locals are angry about migrant labor and the corporate takeover of the area’s small family farms, but estate manager Caren Gray turns elsewhere for a solution. Fingers crossed for this sophomore effort.

Patterson, James. Free Alex Cross. Little, Brown. Oct. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780316097512. $28.99; lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Alex Cross arrested hotshot plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with underage girls, but Creem is now out of prison and has used his skills to change his face. Meanwhile, a young woman is found hanging, having just given birth, but the baby is missing. More young bodies pile up, and Alex hardly realizes that he is being watched. I think that we can guess where this is going. With 75 million copies of his books in print, Patterson is the king of crime.

Sharratt, Mary. Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780547567846. $25. HISTORICAL
A noted writer of historical fiction, Sharratt is also editor of the contrarian anthology Bitch Lit. So she should effectively capture the contrarian spirit of Hildegard von Bingen, who was tithed to the church at age eight and eventually broke out of servitude to a punishingly pious nun and system to become a powerful abbess, scholar, and composer who preached her own brighter vision of God. Not the biggest book on the list but with strong appeal for those interested in religious debate, strong female characters, and the High Middle Ages.

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.