Fiction Previews, Dec. 2013, Pt. 2: Robards, Wagner, First Novelist Baxter, & More

Andersen, Laura. The Boleyn Deceit. Ballantine. Dec. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780345534118. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780345534125. HISTORICAL
Andersen recently launched a Tudor trilogy with The Boleyn King, which imagines that Anne Boleyn gave birth to a lusty baby boy who would become king of England. Here, Henry IX, called William by intimates, has passed through his regency period and now faces war with other European powers. Good thing that he counts older sister Elizabeth among the few people he trusts. Lots of excitement among fans of historicals.

Baxter, Greg. The Apartment. Twelve: Hachette. Dec. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781455574780. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781455547715; lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455548477. LITERARY
One of Twelve’s two galley giveaways at BookExpo America, this debut novel has already garnered strong UK reviews and some great author blurbs. Baxter, an American living in Berlin, drops a fellow American into an unnamed European city with an Old World feel and pairs him with a man helping him hunt for an apartment. The result is a novel that investigates friendship, violence, and the clash of cultures in clean, straightforward language. Watch this one.

Hall, James W. Going Dark. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250005007. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250038333. THRILLER
Florida private investigator Daniel Thorn is worried when he learns that his recently discovered son, Flynn Moss, has innocently become involved with Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmental group responsible for arson and considered a top terrorist threat by the FBI. When Flynn learns that insider ELF members are planning to turn the organization’s peaceful takeover of a nuclear plant into a Fukushima-style radioactive catastrophe (really?), his father pitches in to save the situation—and his son. Hall’s Edgar and Shamus statues guarantee readership.

Lawson, M.A. Rosarito Beach. Blue Rider Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Dec. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780399165733. $26.95. THRILLER
Lawson—actually, Mike Lawson, creator of the Joe DeMarco series, using a lightly disguised pen name—launches a new series starring tough ’n’ sexy DEA agent, Kay Hamilton. Kay has just landed in San Diego and is about to bust the younger brother of drug kingpin Caesar Olivera—which she believes will lead to busting Olivera himself—when a stranger arrives on her doorstep and makes the case way more personal and complicated. Let’s see where this series is going.

Murphy, Monica. Three Broken Promises. Bantam. Dec. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780804176804. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9780804176811. ROMANCE
Fans are clamoring for this third installment in the New Adult series from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Murphy, which portrays a young man’s intense anguish over his best friend’s death in Iraq, for which he feels responsible. Colin assuages his feelings by acting as guardian angel to his friend’s younger sister, who has something else in mind.

Robards, Karen. Hunted. Gallery. S. & S. Dec. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781451678710. $26. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
A top hostage negotiator for the New Orleans Police Department, Caroline Wallace finds herself facing former colleague Reed Ware, who’s got the mayor and the chief of police at the end of his gun. When the SWAT team launches a premature attack, Reed manages to take Caroline hostage—and explains that he’s in danger after having discovered high-level police and government corruption. (But of course. This is the Big Easy.) From a New York Times best-selling author.

Thompson, Sam. Communion Town. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Dec. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781620401651. $25. POP FICTION
Longlisted for the Man Book Prize, Thompson’s debut novel has an intriguing premise. He envisions an imaginary city, then portrays characters on its edges, from a lovesick folksinger and a slaughterhouse worker to a fretful tourist and a ghost. Each tale is told in a different style (e.g., steampunk, gothic horror). A real brain twister that evidently uses genre means for larger ends and should attract a broad range of readers.

Wagner, Bruce. The Empty Chair: Two Novellas. Blue Rider Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Dec. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780399165887. $26.95. NOVELLAS
Cult favorite Wagner, who delivers a powerful sense of Los Angeles generally and film culture specifically in works like Wall Street Journal Best Book Dead Stars, expands his reach with these two novellas. Related by a fictional Wagner, “First Guru” tells the story of a gay Buddhist living in the Big Sur who achieve enlightenment after a child’s tragic suicide, while “Second Guru” features a fading wild child who treks back to India so that she can complete her spiritual journey.

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.