Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, January 18, 2013

Week ending January 18, 2013

Collins, Jackie. The Power Trip. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2013. 544p. ISBN 9780312567477. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250011015. F
A famous actor, athlete, journalist, politician, pop star, and their not-so-famous guests receive über-exclusive invitations to join a supermodel and her Russian billionaire boyfriend on his yacht’s maiden voyage for lots of luxurious R&R. Alas, the guests and crew end up in peril owing to a vengeful mobster’s unfinished business with the Russian.
Verdict Starting with a bang, best-selling author Collins’s latest potboiler gives readers a break from winter with a steamy soap opera set on the Sea of Cortez. Like an episode of the cheesy but popular 1970s TV series The Love Boat, there is lots of romantic drama on the tropical waters, but readers familiar with Collins know to expect plenty of X-rated scenes. They also know to expect brief chapters that keep the story moving at a brisk pace, characters that strongly resemble real celebrities, and lots of surprises. Collins more than delivers on all fronts. “Bonkbuster” fans will love it. [See Prepub Alert, 8/16/12.]—Samantha Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY

Henry, Sara J. A Cold and Lonely Place. Crown. Feb. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307718419. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780307718433. F
Ice harvesters are preparing for the Winter Carnival at Saranac Lake, NY, when they find a body frozen under the surface. Freelance journalist Troy Chance, who is on the scene taking photos, recognizes the dead man as her roommate’s boyfriend, Tobin Winslow. When the death is quickly assumed to be accidental, Troy disagrees. Convinced Tobin was murdered, Troy sets about meeting with Tobin’s family and friends, hoping to find some insight into this man who turns out to be from a wealthy family. When her editor asks her to write the story of Tobin’s life, it seems like the perfect way to gain information, along with providing the break Troy needs to establish her writing career.
Verdict This disappointing sequel to Henry’s Agatha Award–winning Learning To Swim weakens as the story line progresses, with too little conflict and too many “good guys” among the characters. Lacking the suspense found in her previous novel, this may be too innocuous for most mystery fans although the book’s strong sense of place may attract some readers. [See Prepub Alert, 8/20/12.]—Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs

starred review starRankin, Ian. Standing in Another Man’s Grave. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Jan. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780316224581. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316224598. MYS
Some people retire gracefully. John Rebus is not some people. It turns out that after leaving the Lothian and Borders Police (in 2007’s Exit Music), bad penny Rebus has returned to the fold as a civilian employee of a cold case unit. Presumably never having seen New Tricks on the telly and so being unaware of how to act properly in those circumstances, Rebus can only resort to his bag of old tricks: getting up the nose of his superiors, meeting regularly with crime kingpin “Big Ger” Cafferty, drinking more than he should, mentoring Siobhan Clarke, much to her professional detriment—and solving crimes. Armed with only a laminated guest pass and an industrial-strength dose of tartan chutzpah, Rebus, when he gets wind of a possible serial killer operating along the A9, the roadway snaking through the desolate landscape between Perth and Inverness, takes his long-running show on the road.
Verdict Fans of this landmark series, now in its 25th year, will cry “Hosannah!” at Rebus’s triumphal return. That the mandatory retirement age for the police force has been raised and Rebus is thinking of re-upping (if he can pass the physical) bode well for the future. As Arthur Conan Doyle might attest, it’s bloody hard to keep a good detective down. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/12.]—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO

starred review starZinovieff, Sofka. The House on Paradise Street. Atria: S. & S. Jan. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781476718774. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476718798. F
When Maud’s husband unexpectedly dies, she begins to research Nikitas’s turbulent past. She uncovers secrets and betrayals stemming from the Greek civil war that still haunt her husband’s family, but she also discovers undying love and a steadfast loyalty to beliefs. Meanwhile, Antigone, Maud’s mother-in-law, returns to Athens after fleeing the country as a political prisoner decades ago. She struggles to face memories filled with death, hunger, and war. As the two women grapple with the present, their voices interchange throughout the novel to unravel a past that divided not only a family but an entire country.
Verdict Zinovieff’s (Eurydice Street; Red Princess) well-researched fiction debut explores Greece’s troubled history from World War II to the ensuing civil war and fight for democracy. Her fiercely passionate characters and rich descriptions evoke the political turmoil of an ancient nation caught up in the chaos of the 20th century. Like recipients of a well-wrapped gift, readers will eagerly peel back more of the story with each turning of the page until they reach the astonishing conclusion.—Andrea Brooks, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

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"