Fiction Previews, Jul. 2013, Pt. 4: Susan Choi, Matt Haig, Karin Slaughter, & More

Adler, Elizabeth. Please Don’t Tell. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781250019899. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019905. WOMEN’S FICTION
One stormy night on the California coast, elegant 58-year-old Fenny Dexter opens her door to a blood-soaked man claiming to have been in an accident. He departs after a cozy night (they feel a spark), and Fenny later learns from her granddaughter, an ER doctor, that a man has come asking for her to stitch him up—even as a woman lies with her throat slashed, her mouth taped shut with a note saying “Please Don’t Tell.” Is there a connection shaping up here, and what did mom say about strangers? Big promotion.

Brockmole, Jessica. Letters from Skye. Ballantine. Jul. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780345542601. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780345542618. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY HISTORICAL
In 1912, 24-year-old poet Elspeth Dunn, who lives on the Isle of Skye, receives a fan letter from an American named David. The letter exchange that follows leads to love, but then comes World War I. In 1940, Elspeth vanishes after a bomb rocks her home, and her daughter must follow clues to her whereabouts found in a missive that turns up amid the rubble. A highly touted debut.

Carlson, Ron. Return to Oakpine. Viking. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780670025077. $25.95. LITERARY FICTION
An award-winning short story writer of decades’ standing, Carlson here turns to long-form fiction, as he has been doing recently with works like Five Skies and The Signal. In 1999, four friends who once played in a high school band reunite in their hometown, Oakpine, WY—Craig and Frank never left, Mason is back from Denver to sell his parents’ home, and Jimmy, who had gone to New York and become a famous novelist, has returned because he is dying. Will the band play on? For readers who like thoughtful. 

Choi, Susan. My Education. Viking. Jul. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780670024902. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION
Choi’s first novel was an Asian-American Literary Award winner, her second a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her third a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and she recently received the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. So pay attention to her latest, a study of catastrophic desire. Having heard that Professor Nicholas Brodeur has a way with women, graduate student Regina Gottlieb approaches him gingerly but ends up overwhelmed by his physical appeal—and curious about his charismatic wife.

Cole, Kresley. MacRieve. Gallery: S. & S. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781451649918. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476713359. PARANORMAL FICTION
Prone to wolven desires, like all his clan, centuries-old Lykae warrior Uilleam MacRieve has been caged by humans and subject to horrific experiments. Now that he’s free after a bloody jailbreak, the beast within him wants revenge. Then he encounters an utterly unexpected mate. RITA award winner Cole continues her No. 1 New York Times “Immortals After Dark” series.

Crandall, Susan. Whistling Past the Graveyard. Gallery: S. & S. Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476707723. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476707730. POP FICTION
The child of teenage parents, nine-year-old Starla is being raised by fierce grandmother Mamie, who’s worried that Starla will turn out like her no-good mother, off in Nashville trying to become a star. When Starla runs away, worried that she will be punished for an infraction, she’s offered a ride by a black woman also on the run and gets a whole new look at segregation in the Deep South, circa 1963. From a RITA award winner.

Deveraux, Jude. True Love (Nantucket Brides Trilogy). Ballantine. Jul. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780345541796. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345541802. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. ROMANCE
Deveraux returns to the Montgomerys and the Taggerts who have peopled her beloved novels. But here we meet the next generation, as the author launches a new trilogy, set on enchanting Nantucket.

Haig, Matt. The Humans. S. & S. Jul. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781476727912. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476727929. POP FICTION
Professor Andrew Martin, a star Cambridge mathematician, is not what he seems. He’s actually an alien from a utopian society of wise, immortal creatures, and he’s disgusted with humans. Soon, though, he’s enjoying wine and Emily Dickinson, which might make his mission—apparently idealistic but actually rather bloody-minded—more difficult to achieve. From the author of the wise, witty The Radleys.

Hannah, Sophie. Kind of Cruel. Putnam. Jul. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9780670785858. $26.95. THRILLER
With this seventh psychological crime novel starring Det. Simon Waterhouse and Sgt. Charlie Zailer, Hannah breaks out in hardcover—about time for an award-winning, internationally best-selling author. The premise is typically Hannah-creepy. Upset when arson kills her best friend and still puzzled about the unexplained disappearance and sudden reappearance of four of her family members one Christmas, Amber Hewerdine undergoes hypnotherapy, uttering words that lead to her arrest for murder.

Harbison, Beth. Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780312599133. $25.99. ebk. ISBN 9781250031907. CD: Macmillan. WOMEN’S FICTION
Ashley threw over Burke Morrison practically at the altar, persuaded by his brother, Frank, that he loved her more and that Burke had been cheating on her. Then Ashley ends up throwing over dully dependable Frank and works at her family’s bridal shop until, fatefully, both brothers arrive back in town for a wedding. Lots of angst, but Harbison’s heroines always work it out; readers are lining up.

Jones, Darynda. Fifth Grave Past the Light. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250014405. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250014382. CD: Macmillan Audio. PARANORMAL FICTION
After winning a RITA Award for Best First Book for First Grave on the Right, Jones has led this series to New York Times bestsellerdom. Now, in the fifth book, grim reaper Charley Davidson must call on dazzling but big-trouble Reyes Farrow, the son of Satan himself, when victims of a serial killer swamp her apartment and her sister looks like the next victim. Of course there’s payback.  

Kava, Alex. Stranded. Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780385535540. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385535557. THRILLER
FBI special agent Maggie O’Dell is back, traveling those lonesome highways. The reason? There’s a killer abroad, targeting the hungry and bone-weary who stop at rest areas along the blacktop. Maybe he’ll come gunning for her.

Mack, Karen & Jennifer Kaufman. Freud’s Mistress. Amy Einhorn Bks: Putnam. Jul. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780399163074. $25.95. LITERARY HISTORICAL
Coauthors of two best-selling novels, award-winning producer Mack and two-time Penney-Missouri Journalism Award winner Kaufman move beyond the contemporary California setting they’ve favored to envision an affair between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays. In 1895, Minna turns to her sister after losing her job as a lady’s companion, and Freud, regarded as a nutcase by his colleagues, finds comfort in Minna’s intellectual toughness. Was there an affair? A 2006 New York Times article suggested that there was.  

Schine, Cathleen. Fin & Lady. Farrar. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780374154905. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781466837089. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY FICTION
As evidenced by The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Schine deals wisely with family ups and downs, so she should do well this story of orphaned 11-year-old Fin, who suddenly finds himself in the care of older half-sister Lady, whom he hasn’t seen for years. She quickly moves him from rural Connecticut to Greenwich Village, and since it’s the Sixties, we get great social backdrop as Fin learns to open his eyes.

Simses, Mary. The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café. Little, Brown. Jul. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780316225854. $25.99. lrg. prnt. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION
Ellen Branford has an errand that takes her to her grandmother’s hometown, but the trip does not start smoothly; she nearly drowns in the Beacon, ME, bay. But she’s saved by a local carpenter and then slowly starts figuring out the secrets her grandmother was keeping hidden. A bakeshop-sweet debut drawing comparison to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and to Nicholas Sparks’s works.

Slaughter, Karin. Unseen. Delacorte. Jul. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780345539472. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345539489. THRILLER
Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is back, and he’s getting out of town—Atlanta, that is. Even as he works undercover in south Georgia (which he deems hostile territory), we see how city folk can look down on those who live beyond urban sprawl. Look for some old friends to turn up, along with a little bloodshed.

Stroud, Carsten. The Homecoming. Knopf. Jul. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780307700964. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780307962584. THRILLER
Stroud always goes for the edgy-horrific, and this work is no exception. In a broody Southern town, Kate and Nick Kavanaugh have kindly stepped up to take care of Rainey Teague, whose parents have died mysteriously. Alas, Rainey turns out not to be an ordinary little boy but a shape-shifting, time-warping creature locked in battle with “Nothing.” Remind me not to visit this place.

Vickers, Salley. The Cleaner of Chartres. Viking. Jul. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780670785674. $26.95. ROMANCE
Found sleeping on the north porch of famed Chartres Cathedral by Abbé Paul, Agnès Morel has since spent 20 years in the town, cleaning the cathedral and doing odd jobs for townsfolk. But even as she draws the attention of a free-spirited young restorer, Agnès has a tragic past that’s about to emerge, thanks to an accidental meeting and insistent town gossip. Vickers, who had an international hit with Miss Garnet’s Angel, writes with a sense of hopeful healing; with a reading group guide.

Willett, Jincy. Amy Falls Down. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781250028273. $24.99. ebk. ISBN 9781250028280. WOMEN’S FICTION
Since Willett’s fey, popular novels include Winner of the National Book Award, it is perhaps no surprise that the protagonist of her latest book is a writer. Withdrawn, cranky Amy Gallup hasn’t written much lately, but when she clonks her head on a birdbath after tripping in her own backyard, then follows through with a scheduled interview that ends up portraying her ramblings as sheer genius, Amy is suddenly a media hit. And she starts to write. With a reading group guide and lots of publicity.


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.