Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, May 18, 2012

Week ending May 18, 2012

Atkins, Ace. The Lost Ones. Putnam. Jun. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780399158766. $25.95. F
Introduced in The Ranger, former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson is now the newly elected sheriff of his home county, Tibbehah, MS. As Quinn adjusts to the job, with the help of Deputy Lillie Virgil, two major cases come to his attention: one concerns a woman suspected of trafficking in children; the centers on a Mexican cartel seeking to buy guns from a local supplier. While Quinn pursues leads in the black-market baby case, the Feds move on the gunrunner and demand assistance from the local sheriff’s office, causing conflict and near bungling of both investigations. As a fledgling lawman, Quinn is a little rough around the edges, but his character is tempered by his deputy’s professionalism and experience. Flashbacks to Quinn’s childhood and glimpses into his personal life reveal both strengths and flaws, making him even more sympathetic to the reader.
Atkins seems to have hit his stride with this splendid sequel to the Edgar Award‚ nominated The Ranger. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11; Atkins was tapped by Robert B. Parker’s estate to write the Spenser novels, and his first, Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, publishes this month (see Xpress Reviews, 5/11/12).‚ Ed.]‚ Thomas L. Kilpatrick, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

Billingham, Mark. The Demands. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jun. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9780316126632. $24.99. F
In Billingham’s new entry in his series of police procedurals featuring Tom Thorne, Det. Helen Weeks (who appeared in In the Dark) is taken hostage by newsagent Javed Akhtar, who wants Thorne to investigate his son’s death. Thorne originally arrested Akhtar’s son after a fatal knife fight. Although he had been defending a friend, Akhtar’s son was given an unexpectedly long sentence and subsequently committed suicide in prison. However, Akhtar thinks it was murder and has taken drastic means to prove it. In a race against time, with a fellow officer at the mercy of an unhinged father with a gun, Thorne must find out what really happened.
Verdict Billingham’s latest addition to the Thorne series is a tightly plotted and suspenseful thriller sure to please fans of the genre. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]‚ Lisa O’Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnipeg

starred review starHall, Emylia. The Book of Summers. Mira: Harlequin. Jun. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780778314110. pap. $15.95. F
How do we know who we really are, especially when our family narrative breaks down? At 29, Beth Lowe lives within a carefully crafted self-definition that has no room for the 11-year-old Erzsebet she once was. As Erzsi, she traveled between two worlds‚ her father’s quiet English life and her mother’s Hungarian artistic flamboyance. She thrived as a child of those two worlds, embracing both until the summer she turned 16 and her worlds divided. Now her father is coming to visit, bearing an odd and fearful package. It contains a scrapbook of all her Hungarian summers and offers her a chance to return to her stories, to relive glorious seasons in Hungary, and to rediscover a heritage of love.
A beautifully written debut novel capturing the light and shadow of memory and shared lives. A good choice for book clubs.‚ Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC

Katsu, Alma. The Reckoning. Gallery: S. & S. (Taker Trilogy, Bk. 2). Jun. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781451651805. $25. F
This sequel to The Taker continues the time-traveling tale of two immortals whose destinies are bound together by love, longing, misery, and fate. Adair, having escaped his 200-year imprisonment at Lanore’s hands, plans his revenge against her, but life in the 21st-century reawakens his forgotten and unrequited passion for Lanore. Now that her true love, Jonathan, is gone, she’ll even turn for help to past foes‚ plus one mortal. A reckoning is coming; what it means for these two imperfect beings remains to be seen.
Verdict Katsu’s beautiful, mesmerizing narrative will not lesson the effect of her very adult and often brutal dark fairy tale. Her characters are more villainous than heroic, yet, as with every fairy tale, the novel is full of moral questions and dilemmas that beg the characters to do the right thing and leaves readers anxiously awaiting Katsu’s final volume. The author gives new readers enough backstory for them to forgo the first book, but as in all trilogies it’s best to read the series in order.‚ Debbie Haupt, St. Charles City‚ Cty. P.L., MO

Todd, Charles. An Umarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery. Morrow. Jun. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780062015723. $24.99. M
What is one more dead body in a shed full of bodies? In Todd’s fourth Crawford mystery (after A Bitter Truth), the Spanish influenza is killing indiscriminately on the World War I battlefields. Bess is summoned by Private Wilson to the shed where the deceased are kept until burial. There is an extra body, its neck broken, slipped in among the corpses. Before she can alert the authorities, Bess succumbs to the flu. Slowly, she returns to health only to find that Wilson is dead from an apparent suicide. Suspicious, Bess discovers the killer is methodically eliminating anyone who can identify him. She must find the murderer before he finds her.
This engaging historical provides an intriguing look at the chaos the 1918 epidemic caused. Bess is the lynchpin of the story, with her sense of justice that won’t allow a murderer to go unpunished, even when her life is endangered. Highly recommended for fans of wartime mysteries, plucky women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs, and the Downton Abbey television series. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/12.]‚ Susan O. Moritz, Montgomery Cty. P.L., MD

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"