Fiction Previews, Dec. 2012. Pt. 1: Eight Thrillers from Evanovich, Hoag, Preston/Child, Vine, and More

Cleave, Paul. The Cleaner. Atria: S.& S. Dec. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781451677799. pap. $15. THRILLER
An internationally best-selling author and one of New Zealand’s top sellers ever, Cleave reportedly shows us the dark underside of luminous-sounding Christchurch the way Ian Rankin shows us gritty Edinburgh. In this latest, the city is sweating over the Christchurch Carver’s seven gruesome murders. But Joe, who works for the police department, knows that one is a copycat murder, and he determines to find that killer and frame him for the other six. Some vigilante. By all accounts, a riveting author that deserves to be better known here.

Evanovich, Janet. Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel. Bantam. Dec. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780345527745; eISBN 9780345527752. $28. THRILLER
No plot details‚ there never are on an Evanovich novel‚ but clearly Stephanie Plum is back after the million-copy-plus best seller Explosive Eighteen, and a big, bold marketing campaign is promised.

Hoag, Tami. The 9th Girl. Dutton. Dec. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780525952978. $26.95. THRILLER
Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska starred in Hoag’s two biggest hits, Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust, but haven’t been around for the past half-dozen years. Now they’re back, worrying about Jane Doe 9, the ninth unidentified body found in Minneapolis in 2012. It takes some doing‚ the body lacks all identifying characteristics except those that show her to be an adolescent girl‚ but our duo finally uncovers her fractured family life and the young love that could have been her undoing.

Iles, Greg. The Bone Tree. Scribner. Dec. 2012. 504p. ISBN 9781439140291. $28. THRILLER
Prosecutor-turned-writer Penn Cage, introduced in Iles’s 1999 The Quiet Game and back for several outings since, is shocked when his father, Dr. Tom Cage, stands accused of murdering his former nurse, Viola. Even more shocking: the secrets that tumble forth suggest that Tom and Viola were somehow associated with the Double Eagle Club, a particularly violent group that scorned the FBI-infiltrated Ku Klux Klan. Harking back to Civil Rights era Mississippi, this first of a two-parter promises more than passing chills.

Mann, Don with Ralph Pezzullo. Hunt the Scorpion: A SEAL Team Six Novel. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Dec. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780316209601. CD: Hachette Audio. $25.99. THRILLER
Bad news: terrorists have gotten hold of a nuclear device, and it’s up to Thomas Crocker and his antiterrorist force, navy SEAL Team Six, to save the day. Second in the series from former navy SEAL Mann, who’s getting help from award-winning novelist/playwright/journalist Pezzullo.

Pötzsch, Oliver. The Beggar King: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale. Houghton. Dec. 2012. 544p. ISBN 9780547992198. pap. $18. THRILLER
In this third in Pötzsch’s well-grounded series, inspired by his ancestors, a family of famed Bavarian executioners called the Kuisls, Jakob Kuisl leaves the tiny Alpine village of Schongau in 1662 and travels to imperial Regensburg after receiving a summons from his sister. Alas, when he arrives, he finds her with her throat cut, and soon his daughter Magdalena and a young medicus named Simon arrive in Regensburg to clear him of the accusation of murder. Pötzsch’s series has a strong following, as the 75,000-copy first printing suggests.

Preston, Douglas & Lincoln Child. Two Graves. Grand Central. Dec. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9780446554992. $26.99. CD: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Taking its name from the Confucian saying Before you embark on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves, this novel concludes Special Agent Pendergast’s mission to discover what happened to his wife, Helen. Here, he’s lost the trail of her kidnappers and has holed up in Manhattan when he’s asked to investigate several mysterious hotel fires that turn out to be a message from the very men he’s been tracking. Pendergast ends up deep in the jungles of South America, ready to settle scores but instead confronted by an ancient evil. Fever Dream, the trilogy opener, hit No. 3 on the New York Times best sellers list, while Cold Vengeance debuted at No. 1, so there will be big demand.

Vine, Barbara. The Child’s Child. Scribner. Dec. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781451694895. $26. THRILLER
Grace and Andrew Easton have split up rooms in the house they’ve inherited from their grandmother and live there peaceably until Andrew brings home a new boyfriend, James, whose caustic comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis turn an atmosphere of shared sibling affection into something pretty tense. Even as James starts coming apart after he and Andrew witness a friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, Grace begins reading a lost 1951 novel called The Child’s Child whose setting and protagonists uncannily echo her own situation. Diamond Dagger winner Vine (aka Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh) punctures us again.

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.