Fiction Reviews | November 15, 2012

”LibraryBlock, Lawrence. Hit Me. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2013. c.336p. ISBN 9780316127356. $26.99. F

Retirement was never in the cards for hit man Keller, who is living as married father Nicholas Edwards in New Orleans, where he rehabs real estate. But his legitimate business has tanked post-Katrina, and the account he uses for serious stamp collecting could use an injection of funds. So Keller is ready to take a contract when Dot, a voice from his past, calls with an offer. Even a mistake on his first time out—contract cancelled too late, not his fault—doesn’t dissuade him, especially when he can combine his passion for philately with his sideline of killing for profit. VERDICT In the fifth entry in the Keller series (after Hit and Run), the appealing antihero with his own moral code continues to dig into the motives of his distant employers and make his own decisions about who deserves to die. But stamp collecting is more than just a secondary theme here, and Block’s discourses about the history behind stamps are vivid enough to pique the interest even of those not at all inclined toward the hobby. Master mystery writer Block is at the top of his form here. [See Prepub Alert, 8/3/12.]—Michele Leber, Arlington, VA

”LibraryLeganski, Rita. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2013. c.400p. ISBN 9780062113764. pap. $14.99. F

When Bonaventure Arrow was born, he came into the world with nary a whimper or cry. Five years later he’s still speechless, but this child communicates better without a voice than most speaking people ever do. Instead of talking, Bonaventure listens and hears things others will never experience: the joy of possibility in the white of a cloud, the music of earthbound time in a glorious sunset, the whisper of growth in a blade of grass. And the most comforting sound of all, the voice of the father he never knew, murdered while Bonaventure was still in the womb. One day, Bonaventure’s symphonious world is invaded by a new phantom, a discordant voice whispering secrets that could destroy his family. VERDICT Suffused with the mystical charm of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou, Leganski’s lyrical debut novel conjures dreams of voodoo, the power of healing, and the distinction between hearing and listening. This extraordinary, evocative novel will cast a spell over fans of magical realism in the vein of Alice Hoffman, Kaye Gibbons, and Sarah Addison Allen. Simply enchanting. [See Prepub Alert, 9/27/12 .] —Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY

Hand, Elizabeth. Errantry: Strange Stories. Small Beer. Nov. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9781618730305. pap. $16. F

When novelist and short story author Hand (Available Dark; Generation Loss) subtitled this collection “Strange Stories,” she gave readers a hint about what to expect. Lord Byron said “what a strange thing man is…” and it is true, everyone is a little strange, life is a little strange. This original, varied, collection of stories is not strictly fantasy, and certainly not horror, for Hand is more subtle than that. The stories are so different from each other it is hard to find a common theme or thread, but whether reading about ordinary people sharing peculiar experiences, people undergoing fantastic transformations, a young woman with supernatural powers, or a pair of witches, each story leaves the reader curious, thinking about what they read, but disquieted, with a lingering, though not necessarily unpleasant, sense of unease. VERDICT An enjoyable trip to the dark side, certainly worth a try for those who enjoy short stories but not necessarily elements of fantasy, and a must for fans of Hand’s previous work.—Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA

The following titles are reviewed in the November 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Askew, Rilla. Kind of Kin. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2013. c.432p. ISBN 9780062198792. $25.99. F

Diener, Michelle. The Emperor’s Conspiracy. Gallery: S. & S. Nov. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781451684438. pap. $15. F

Gillespie, William. Keyhole Factory. Soft Skull. ISBN 9781593764463. Nov. 2013. 368p. pap. $16.95. F

Lelic, Simon. The Facility. Penguin. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780143120681. pap. $15. F

Leyshon, Nell. The Colour of Milk. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2013. c.176p. ISBN 9780062245823. $21.99. F

Oates, Joyce Carol. The Accursed. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2013. c.688p. ISBN 9780062231703. $27.95. F

Pidgeon, Sean. Finding Camlann. Norton. Jan. 2013. c.352p. ISBN 9780393073294. $26.95. F

Reyl, Hilary. Lessons in French. S. & S. Mar. 2013. c.336p. ISBN 9781451655032. $24. F

Rock, Peter. The Shelter Cycle. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2013. c.224p. ISBN 9780547859088. $23. F

Rosenheim, Andrew. Fear Itself. Overlook. Nov. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9781468300727. $25.95. F

Smith, Haywood . Out of Warranty. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250003522. $25.99. F

Sneed, Christine. Little Known Facts. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Feb. 2013. c.304p. ISBN 9781608199587. $25. F

Villalobos, Juan Pablo. Down the Rabbit Hole. Farrar. 2012. tr. from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey. 96p. ISBN 9780374143350. pap. $12. F

Williams, Waimea. Aloha, Mozart. Luminis. Nov. 2012. c.280p. ISBN 9781935462668 pap. ISBN 9781935462637. $18.95. F

Short Stories

Oates, Joyce Carol. Black Dahlia & White Rose. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780062195692. $24.99. F