Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, February 15, 2013

Week ending February 15, 2013

starred review starGardner, Lisa. Touch & Go. Dutton. Feb. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780525953074. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101611012. F
What does a perfect life look like? On the surface, Justin and Libby Denbe seem to have found it: a gorgeous townhouse in a tony district of Boston, a thriving construction business, and a beautiful teenage daughter. But appearances can be deceiving. The Denbes’ lives are turned upside down when they are brutally abducted from their home and held at an abandoned facility. The family is forced to face their demons as they are trapped together in a single cell. The dark secrets they each harbor threaten everything they hold dear.
Verdict Best-selling author Gardner (The Perfect Husband) does not disappoint with this latest thriller as she introduces readers to PI Tessa Leoni and Sgt.Wyatt Foster who, along with the FBI, are in a race to find the Denbes before it’s too late. Readers will be gripped by the page-turning suspense that leads to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Expect great demand. [See Prepub Alert, 8/3/12.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC

Krol, Torsten. The Secret Book of Sacred Things. Corvus: Atlantic Bks., dist. by IPG. Feb. 2013. 293p. ISBN 9781843545798. pap. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9780857896605. SF
Many years ago, a comet hit the moon and then Earth, causing widespread devastation. The fragments that remain of the moon produce intermittent “moonquakes” that affect the tides and the remaining life on the planet. As the Scribe for her small rural community, 12-year-old Rory has the important job of endlessly copying Selene Selene Selene to ensure the moon remains stable in the heavens. Rory believes that one day she will lead their matriarchal society, but changes are coming that will prove beyond her control.
Verdict The first-person narrative through Rory’s eyes is very limiting, since Rory is extremely immature and self-absorbed, with mediocre writing skills. Other characters are one-dimensional. Krol’s (The Dolphin People; Callisto) postapocalyptic novel has an interesting premise but suffers from poor execution. Young adult readers might enjoy, but adults may prefer Anna North’s America Pacifica.—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.

Krueger, William Kent. Ordinary Grace. Atria: S. & S. Mar. 2013. 306p. ISBN 9781451645828. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451645866. F
Krueger, primarily known for his Cork O’Connor mystery series (Trickster’s Point), ventures into new territory with this coming-of-age stand-alone that has a hint of mystery. In 1961 New Bremen, MN, Frank Drum is a typical 13-year-old who likes baseball and getting into trouble. He has an 11-year-old brother, a Methodist minister father, a sister bound for Juilliard, and an artistically inclined mother. Narrating the story 40 years after the events unfold, Frank recalls the five deaths that occurred that summer that scarred many, especially his family. He and his brother grow up that summer as they see, hear, and experience tragedy and love that is part and parcel of the adult world.
Verdict For fans of Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home or Krueger’s other works, this is a touching read, with just enough intrigue to keep the story moving along.—Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

Littlejohn, William. The Law of Iroquois Hart. Potomac River. Feb. 2013. 236p. ISBN 9780981536118. $26.95. F
Students of the late author/teacher Gary Provost (Make Every Word Count) were advised to affix a sign above their writing desk that asked, “What does my character want?” As one proceeds through the pages of this novel, it becomes obvious that if its author (Calvin) has such a sign to remind him of the driving force in popular fiction, he chooses to ignore it. The result is an episodic tale that meanders through law student Iroquois Hart’s encounters with drug kingpins, seedy politicians, and murderers while he awaits job offers and the outcome of his estranged wife’s divorce petition. Lengthy sections of explication poorly disguised as dialog and detailed descriptions that do not further the plot continually burden the narrative, while confusing pronoun references add to the reader’s frustration in attempting to discover a story line.
Verdict This book, the product of a Washington, DC, self-proclaimed “boutique press,” is not recommended.—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT

starred review starThomas, Donald. Death on a Pale Horse: Sherlock Holmes on Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Pegasus. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781605983943. $25.95. MYS
A brilliant outing for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson! Beginning with the 1879 British defeat by Zulu tribesmen at Isandhlwana in South Africa, major events in British military and diplomatic history serve as loci in a connect-the-disasters puzzle box that becomes the most dangerous game the sleuthing partners have played since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem. Watson’s own military past is detailed as it reveals a personal connection to the case. Holmes is as lovingly portrayed as ever, and though he receives less page time than usual, the reasons are eventually revealed. In the meantime, he sends Watson, and readers, a cipher that this reviewer was thrilled to put pen to paper to crack!
Verdict Thomas’s (The Execution of Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock Holmes and the King’s Evil; Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly) latest Holmes adventure is a thinking man’s thriller, which should come as no surprise to fans of the series, and will bring much delight to Sherlockians, fans of cerebral thrillers and historical fiction, military history enthusiasts, and amateur cryptographers.—Liv Hanson, Chicago

Tursten, Helene. The Golden Calf: An Inspector Irene Huss Investigation. Soho Crime. Feb. 2013. 352p. tr. from Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg. ISBN 9781616950088. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616950095. MYS
A wealthy restaurateur is found dead in his opulent loft in the woods. The following day, two venture capitalists are found dead in a Göteborg suburb. Three years ago another venture capitalist disappeared, after suddenly withdrawing all his funds, unmooring his boat, and setting off to sea. What do all these dead men have in common? All were shot by a small-caliber vanity handgun, and all were related via business or marriage to a beautiful blonde named Sanna Kaegler-Ceder. But is Sanna the murderer or one more potential victim? It is up to Swedish Insp. Irene Huss and her partner Tommy Persson to sift through the false leads, bank records, Sanna’s half-truths, and mounting body count to discover who exactly is behind the murderous mess.
Verdict The fourth book in Tursten’s series (after Night Rounds) is a well-crafted, if overwrought, keep-you-guessing mystery, stuffed full of intriguing characters, subplots, and extraneous details. Both readers new to the series and avid fans will enjoy investigating this puzzling case with Inspector Huss.—Jennifer Rogers, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond

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"