Fiction Previews, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: Top Commercial Fiction, Including Cornwell, Cussler, & McCall Smith

Bruen, Ken. Purgatory. Mysterious Pr: Grove/Atlantic. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780802126078. $24. CD: Highbridge Audio. MYSTERY
Nine previous titles, a Shamus Award, multiple award nominations, two feature films, and now this: even as he struggles to maintain his hard-won stability, former cop Jack Taylor must face a vigilante killer wiping out the bad guys of Galway and leaving little missives to Jack signed C 33. Some social media stirring already, and Bruen’s doctorate in metaphysics adds depth.

Cornwell, Patricia. Dust. Putnam. Nov. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780399157578. $28.95. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Home in Cambridge, MA, trying to forget her work on a horrendous mass killing, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta must deal with the murder of a female grad student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose body is found wrapped in linen and carefully posed on the rugby field. Strange how this case resembles one that Scarpetta’s FBI husband is handling in Washington, DC. Cornwell’s works have been translated into 36 languages in more than 50 countries, and fans keep coming back, rain or shine.

Cussler, Clive with Jack Du Brul. Mirage. Putnam. Nov. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780399158087. $27.95. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rumor says that a weapon out there somewhere can obliterate American aircraft carriers—just as U.S. Navy experiments with electromagnetic radiation reputedly obliterated a U.S. destroyer in 1943. Could the new weapon be linked to the work of Nikola Tesla, and what is Juan Cabrillo going to do about it? Cussler launched his career 40 years ago with publication of The Mediterranean Caper, which appears in hardcover this summer for the first time.

Evanovich, Janet. Untitled Plum #20. Bantam. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780345542885. $28. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
No word yet on plot, but aside from almost criminally popular bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, all the Plum stalwarts are back: wild Grandma Mazur, hooker–turned–bounty hunter Lula, hunky cop Joe Morelli, and private security specialist Ranger. Look for a huge marketing campaign with some new tricks; Bantam has rights for the next three books starring Plum and will work to make her even bigger, if that’s possible.

Goldman, William (text) & Michael Manomivibul (illus.). The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780544173767. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544177222. POP FICTION
First a 1973 novel by Goldman, then a 1987 film directed and coproduced by Rob Reiner with a screenplay by Goldman, The Princess Bride is a true cult phenomenon; the Facebook fan site boasts 2.3 million fans. Now, to celebrate the book’s 40th anniversary, fantasy artist Manomivibul enhances the text with his own mood-inducing visuals—30 full-page plates and 20 spot pieces. With a 35,000-copy first printing and really buzzing on the blogs. 

Joyce, G.B. The Black Ace Putnam. Pintail: Penguin Group (USA). Nov. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780143188711. pap. $16. MYSTERY
In a sports mystery featuring ice hockey, second in the Brad Shade series, Joyce shows off his skills as an ESPN Magazine writer, three-time National Magazine Award winner, and former scout for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Shade gets in deep while investigating the reputed suicide of a former teammate. Distinctive: just how many ice hockey mystery series are there?

Littell, Robert. A Nasty Piece of Work: A Novel. Thomas Dunne Books: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781250021458. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022806. MYSTERY
Working as a private investigator in New Mexico, Former CIA agent Lemuel Gunn agrees to look for Emilio Gava, who jumped bail after being arrested for buying cocaine. But he has no picture of Gava and begins wondering whether the man even exists. Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Littell, whose The Company was a New York Times best seller, here sidesteps from espionage to mystery.

Locke, Kate. Long Live the Queen. Orbit: Hachette. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780316196147. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780316196147. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316402200. STEAMPUNK/FANTASY
Locke really started something with God Save the Queen, a steampunk saga with Queen Victoria still alive today and ruling as part of a vampire aristocracy. In this wrap-up to the trilogy, heroine Xandra Vardan finds that being crowned goblin queen has not made her life any easier. Much anticipated and a 35,000-copy first printing.

McCall Smith, Alexander. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Pantheon. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780307378415. $24.95. MYSTERY
Mma Ramotswe is back, investigating a series of curious incidents that seem designed to put the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon out of business. Meanwhile, the shifting cultural landscape complicates life for Mma Makutsi, who’s about to have a baby. No. 14 for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; with a reading group guide and a ten-city tour.

McCullough, Colleen. Sins of the Flesh. S. & S. Nov. 2013. 320 p. ISBN 9781476735337. $26. MYSTERY
Summertime is not so easy in 1969 Holloman, CT, as Capt. Carmine Delmonico returns from vacation to find he must hunt for a killer whose victims turn up emaciated and emasculated. Then murder of a different sort occurs, and Delmonico has two chaotic cases to handle. McCullough’s pleasing series continues.

Martin, George R.R. (text) with Daniel Abraham (adapt.) & Tommy Patterson (illus.) A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Vol. 3. Bantam. Nov. 2013. 160p. ISBN 9780440423232. $25. FANTASY/GRAPHIC NOVEL
No need to explain the allure of Martin’s A Game of Thrones and no need to tell you that it has been adapted as a graphic novel; this is the third volume. Here, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell faces enemies known and unknown.

Meacham, Leila. Somerset. Grand Central. Nov. 2013. 624p. ISBN 9781455547388. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455547371. lib. ibk. ISBN  9781455551477. CD: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL/POPULAR
This prequel to Meacham’s best-selling debut, Roses (we’ve since had Tumbleweeds), offers 150 years’ worth of Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts. Bereft of his inheritance, Simon Toliver leaves South Carolina’s Plantation Alley and strikes out with friend Jeremy Warwick for a new territory: Texas. Billed as Gone with the Wind with a bit of The Help (something for everyone?), and there’s a 100,000-copy first printing.

Palliser, Charles. Rustication. Norton. Nov. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780393088724. $25.95. HISTORICAL/LITERARY
Fans hooked on Palliser’s writing since his engrossing puzzle-box debut, The Quincunx, will be delighted to learn that he has returned to mid-1800s England, where Richard Shenstone has been sent down from Cambridge in uncertain disgrace. Living with his newly impoverished mother and ever weirder sister, Effie, he learns that creepy letters making the village rounds speak of wicked crimes, even murder. Fun for all.

Rendell, Ruth. No Man’s Nightingale: An Inspector Wexford Novel. Scribner. Nov. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781476744483. $26. MYSTERY
Retired Chief Inspector Wexford decides to help out when female vicar Sarah Hussein is found strangled in the nastiest way. At the scene of the crime, Wexford unthinkingly picks up a letter showing that, aside from her status as a mixed-race woman and single mom working for reform in a white male–dominated field, the victim may have had a secret in her past. Juicy reading; book club promotion.

Wan, Helen. The Partner Track. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250019578. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019585. POP FICTION/LEGAL
Poster girl for Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP’s open-minded hiring—she’s Chinese American and a woman, after all—Ingrid Yung still finds herself on the outside looking in. Then after an embarrassing incident at the firm’s annual summer outing she finds herself in charge of the company’s new diversity initiative. At what cost? Associate General Counsel at the Time Inc. division of Time Warner, debut novelist Wan knows the territory.

Wilson, Robert Charles. Burning Paradise. Tor. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780765332615. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466800762. SF
You would think 19-year-old Cassie Klyne would be happy; it’s 2015, and she’s living in a world that has not seen war since 1918. But Cassie knows that this benign state of affairs has been engineered by extraterrestrials using humans for their own purposes and that her parents were killed for knowing this secret. Hugo Award winner Wilson scares us again.

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.