Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, September 7, 2012

Week ending September 7, 2012

Lewis, Kristyn Kusek. How Lucky You Are. 5 Spot: Grand Central. Sept. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781455502035. pap. $13.99. F
Waverly is so caught up in her own problems that she doesn’t have anything but envy for her two friends Amy and Kate, who seem to be enjoying perfect lives. Amy is married to a doctor and raising their daughter, Emma. Kate is the wife of a politician and is helping him to campaign for governor of Virginia. But when the marriages of Amy and Kate start to implode, it is Waverly who is their rock and who reunites the three old friends to weather the storm. But can Waverly come clean about her own troubles in time to salvage her relationship with her boyfriend?
Fans of women’s fiction about enduring female friendships will relate to debut author Lewis’s vivid and genuinely written protagonists. A good choice for readers who enjoy the novels of Kristin Hannah and Patricia Gaffney.—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.

McDermid, Val. The Vanishing Point. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9780802120526. $25. F
Scottish crime series writer and novelist McDermid’s (The Retribution; Trick of the Dark) new stand-alone begins with a horrific abduction. Flying to America from London for a holiday, Stephanie Harker watches helplessly as her young charge Jimmy is kidnapped from an airport security checkpoint. The backstory begins when ghostwriter Stephanie takes a job penning an autobiography for Scarlett Higgins, a seemingly self-absorbed reality television star. Stephanie feels their relationship grow from that of a professional writer interviewing a client to one of friendship. But circumstances end in tragedy for the duplicitous Scarlett, leaving Stephanie to unravel the mystery that ensues. Using British colloquialisms and local perspectives, McDermid draws readers into a country where afternoon tea and biscuits may differ from our fare, but her riveting read reaches across cultures. A delightful reference at the end of the book compares American and British phrases.
Nikki French fans will relate to the English setting and psychological aspects. [This title was previewed in editors’ picks from BookExpo America, “From Magick to BBQ & Backlist,” LJ 7/12.—Ed.]—Susan Carr, Edwardsville P.L., IL

O’Reilly, P.A. The Fine Color of Rust. Washington Square: S. & S. Sept. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781451678161. pap. $15. F
Still smarting from her husband’s abandonment several years earlier, Loretta Boskovic, the single mom of two, lives in the tiny Australian town of Gunapan. Her best friend and biggest supporter is the elderly junk man Norm, who brings her goats when Loretta asks him to find her a lawnmower. Hearing of the news that the town’s primary school is slated to be closed, Loretta throws herself into saving it. As she works on her campaign, she discovers corruption in the town council. The investigation moves forward, and Loretta learns to lean on her friends and listen to her children. Moments of joy and sadness follow along with some belly laughs.
Reilly, who also writes as Paddy O’Reilly (The Factory), presents a picturesque slice of Australian life. The novel does tend to ramble at times, but that is part of its charm. This feels like a good friend telling you a story. Fans of Australian contemporary fiction will enjoy this tragicomic tale.—Kristen Stewart, Brazoria Cty. Lib. Syst., Pearland, TX

Robuck, Erika. Hemingway’s Girl. NAL: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780451237880. pap. $16. F
Mariella Bennet is a survivor who knows how to cope with the extreme poverty that is a fact of life in Depression-era Key West, FL. Born of a Cuban mother and an Anglo father, the teenage Mariella works odd jobs in order to support her mother and two younger sisters after her father’s sudden death. Her feistiness attracts celebrated author Ernest Hemingway, and she is soon working as his maid, privy to the inner workings of his home life. But she is also attracted to Gavin Murray, a World War I veteran who puts the needs of others before his own, unlike the egotistical and selfish Hemingway. As a hurricane threatens the Florida Keys, Mariella realizes that she stands to lose even more than she already has.
Robuck (Receive Me Falling) skillfully incorporates obscure historical facts to craft a fictional tale of grief, loss, and survival that seemingly continues the story of Hemingway’s life where Helen Simpson’s best-selling The Paris Wife ends. Although the novel is slow at the beginning, readers will identify with Mariella’s fascination with the magnetic Hemingway and root her on as she struggles to survive against all odds.—Natasha Grant, New York

Thilliez, Franck. Syndrome E. Viking. 2012. c.370p. tr. from French by Mark Polizzotti. ISBN 9780670025787. $26.95. F
There are some films better left unseen. A collector goes blind after viewing an unmarked film from the early 1950s containing violent and erotic subliminal messages. He begs his ex-girlfriend Det. Lucie Hennebelle to investigate the film’s origins and hidden subtext. Lucie begins digging unofficially, until everyone she discusses the film with is brutally slain. Now officially on the case, Lucie is partnered with a criminal investigator known as “Shark” who is investigating five other murders with a slight connection to the film. The case spreads from France to Canada and Egypt, where Lucie and Shark follow a trail of bodies and a history of secrets more horrific than they could ever guess.
Those who enjoy international crime fiction and suspense will eagerly accept French author Thilliez’s U.S. debut. His thriller is an example of the international crime novel at its best in the tradition of Stieg Larsson. Thilliez creates compelling and solid characters, especially in the case of his broken inspector Franck Sharko.—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ., Lebanon, IL

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"