Fiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 2: Top Commercial Fiction from Sherrilyn Kenyon to Oliver Pötzsch

Chamberlain, Diane. Necessary Lies. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250010698. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250010704. CD: Macmillan Audio. WOMEN’S FICTION
Chamberlain has published nearly two dozen novels, many best sellers and one a RITA Award winner. But this work, which has the house jumping, is being billed as her breakout. A half-century ago in rural North Carolina, 15-year-old Ivy Hart finds herself responsible for her grandmother, mentally ill sister, and nephew after her parents’ deaths. Newly minted social worker Jane Forrester wants to help but creates waves with her special devotion to the family. The story of a friendship in a time of rising racial tension and state-mandated sterilizations; with a reading group guide and big promotion that will include an original e-story.

Child, Lee. Never Go Back. Delacorte. Sept. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780385344340. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780440339373. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
There are big changes ahead for Jack Reacher. He’s finally made it to Virginia and is eager to see the woman he spoke to on the phone in 2010’s 61 Hours. Instead, he’s drafted back into the army, where he wrestles with a case rooted deeply in his past. This year, in an effort to grab the new readers presumably scared up by the release of the film Jack Reacher, the publisher will be repackaging and relaunching of the entire Reacher backlist.

Gibbins, David. Total War Rome: Destroy Carthage. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781250038647. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250038654. HISTORICAL ADVENTURE
It’s not every novel that’s based on a hugely popular video game, but, hey, talk about a built-in audience. Gibbins, a university lecturer in art and archaeology before discovering that writing best-selling historical adventure novels was more to his liking, tells the story of Fabius Petronius Secundus, a Roman legionary and centurion who rises to power after battling the Macedonians and soon finds himself with bitter enemies—and a rival for his beloved Julia, who happens to be a Caesar. Promotion will be coordinated with the fall 2013 release of the Total War II Game, which is expected to sell over two million units. Wait, is this the future of publishing?

Graves, Tracey Garvis. Covet. Dutton. Sept. 2013. 320p. 9780525954071. $25.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. WOMEN’S FICTION
Initially a self-published ebook best seller, Graves’s On the Island was turned into a paperback best seller by Penguin; now, more than 500,000 copies of the book have been sold. In Graves’s hardcover debut, Claire Canton meets a handsome cop named Daniel Rush when he pulls her over for a broken taillight. She’s unhappily married, he’s all alone, and they bond when Claire ends up doing some graphic design work for the police department. But how far will Claire let herself go? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Kenyon, Sherrilyn. Styxx. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 736p. ISBN 9781250029881. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250029904. CD: Macmillan Audio. PARANORMAL
In her latest addition to the Dark-Hunter series, Kenyon tells the story of Styxx, twin brother to Acheron, already celebrated with his own title in the series. Among the world’s most powerful beings, Styxx and Acheron have been fiercely at odds for centuries; now, with an ancient evil Acheron once imprisoned on the loose again, they must join forces. With a one-day laydown on September 3, plus a national tour; essential for fantasy fans, who have pushed Kenyon into the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best sellers list 16 times in the last three years.

Kirkman, Robert & Jay Bonansinga. The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780312548179. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250020642. CD: Macmillan Audio. HORROR
In this third in a New York Times best-selling series, based on Kirkman and others’ “Walking Dead” comics for Image Comics (also the inspiration for the fabled AMC TV series), Rick Grimes squares off against the evil, twisted Governor. Go ahead if you’re fearless; promotion will be everywhere.

Kristoff, Jay. Kinslayer. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781250001412. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022943. FANTASY
Kristoff launched his “Lotus War” series last year with Stormdancer, set in a Japanese dystopian steampunk world and featuring tough young heroine Yukiko. Here, the evil Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated, civil war looms, and Yukiko is losing control of her power to hear the thoughts of animals. She’s also dependent on the rebel Guildsman Kin and her griffin, Buruu, both of whom have their own secrets. There’s big interest in this sequel.

McCrumb, Sharyn. King’s Mountain: A Ballad Novel. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781250011404. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022707. HISTORICAL
McCrumb lives in the Virginia Blue Ridge, near where her family settled in 1790, and her Ballad novels capture the history and spirit of the region. This first Ballad novel set during the American Revolution features John Sevier, who’s not concerned about the fighting until nasty British officer Patrick Ferguson threatens to burn down his settlement. Then Sevier, a real-life figure who became the first governor of Tennessee, leads the Overmountain Men in a significant victory against Loyalists that became known as the Battle of King’s Mountain. Last year’s The Ballad of Tom Dooley pushed McCrumb back onto the New York Times best sellers list; look for demand here.

Norton, Carla. The Edge of Normal. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250031044. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250031051. CD: Macmillan Audio. THRILLER
Coauthor of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Perfect Victim, about Colleen Stan’s seven-year imprisonment by a sexual sadist who kept her locked in a wooden box, Norton here offers a debut novel that won a Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery. After escaping from an abductor, Reeve LeClaire is leading something like a normal life when her therapist asks her to help a young woman who has been similarly victimized. Soon, though, Reeve realizes that the woman is still being stalked. Interesting parallels to James Sallis’s Others of My Kind, previewed below.

Patton, Lisa. Southern as a Second Language. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781250020659. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022738. WOMEN’S FICTION
In Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, which opened Patton’s beloved Dixie series, Southern belle Leelee Satterfield found herself plunked down in Vermont. Here, in the series closer, she’s back in Memphis and opening a restaurant with boyfriend Pete. Of course there are complications, owing to her free-wheeling friends, her dastardly ex-husband, and a male dog named Roberta.

Pötzsch, Oliver. The Ludwig Conspiracy. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2013. tr. from German by Anthea Bell. 448p. ISBN 9780547740102. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780547740133. THRILLER
Pötzsch here departs from his popular “Hangman’s Daughter” series, inspired by his ancestors’ longstanding trade as executioners in Bavaria, to write a contemporary tale. When folks appear willing to kill for an encoded diary, written by a confidant of Bavarian king Ludwig II and now in the possession of rare book dealer Steven Lukas, Lukas must join forces with Det. Sara Lengfeld. And they’re off to Ludwig’s three crazy castles to ferret out clues regarding Ludwig’s mysterious death. Great expectations; there’s a 100,000-copy first printing, a national tour that will include New York, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, and a reading group guide.

Sallis, James. Others of My Kind. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Sept. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781620402092. $24. THRILLER
Author of the Lew Griffin series and described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the ‘purest’ writer of crime fiction today” (refreshing in this cross-genre world), Sallis does something unusual for him in featuring a female protagonist. Abducted as a child and held captive in a box under a bed, Jenny Rowan eventually escaped; now she works as a production editor for a local TV station. Then a detective who somehow knows her story arrives on her doorstep, desperate for her help with a young woman who has survived a similar abduction.

Wilson, Susan. One Lucky Dog. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250014368. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250014375. POP FICTION
Actually, it’s the people who are lucky. When he heads off to World War II, promising baseball player Rick Stanton agrees with wife Francesca to volunteer their beloved dog, Pax, for the army’s K-9 Corps. Rick comes home badly injured, and Pax is reluctantly surrendered by Keller Nicholson, the soldier with whom he has worked so closely. Keller had wanted to adopt Pax but instead is hired by Francesca to care for Rick. And so a loving family emerges, with loyal Pax at the center. Tears for dog lovers and contemporary parallels as the ASPCA and other organizations work to get military dogs adopted after their service is completed.


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.