Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, August 16, 2013

Week ending August 16, 2013

starred review starDaly, Paula. Just What Kind of Mother Are You? Grove. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780802121622. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802193056. F
Lisa Kallisto is overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed by life. So when she gets the call from her daughter’s best friend’s mother asking, “The girls okay?,” she automatically responds, “What? Yes, fine.” After all, her daughters are okay. What she doesn’t know (yet) is that her daughter’s best friend Lucinda was supposed to have spent the night at her house. With a rapist on the loose and one girl already abducted, Lisa can’t shake the feeling that it’s her fault another girl is missing. Determined to make things right, she sets out to find Lucinda but soon discovers that things may not be quite as they once seemed. First-time author Daly has crafted a taut, gripping thriller about ordinary suburban life turned upside down. What happens when the ugly truths are revealed from behind carefully constructed facades? What happens to friendships when a tragedy strikes? What happens to the families?
Verdict Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour this book. Daly has perfected the essence of British suburban life and how easily it can fall apart. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13; library marketing.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC

King, Laurie R. The Bones of Paris: Novel of Suspense. Bantam. Sept. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780345531766. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780345531773. MYS
King’s latest book is both a chilling mystery and a haunting love letter to the Paris of Hemingway’s Lost Generation, including Hemingway himself. In September 1929, Harris Stuyvesant, the American private investigator first introduced in Touchstone, explores the city’s streets and alleys, cafés and bars, searching for a missing young woman from Boston who may be dead. He socializes with everyone who was anyone in Paris in that last glorious autumn before the stock market crash. Harris’s only hope of catching a serial killer is the dutiful police detective who stole his ex-lover’s heart—if the cop doesn’t arrest him first.
Verdict It takes the reader a significant investment of time to reach the conclusion that there has been an actual murder and even longer to figure out who the suspects are. Murder is beside the point here, with the novel offering instead a paean to Jazz Age Paris, which King clearly evokes. The reader walks those streets with Harris, rubbing elbows with Man Ray and Hemingway. Recommended for readers interested in historical fiction set in the era and literary mysteries. [Library marketing.]—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

London, Julia. The Bridesmaid. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Oct. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781402283871. pap. $4.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402283888. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Kate needs to fly from New York to Seattle. As the maid of honor in her high-strung and overdramatic cousin’s wedding, her presence is not only mandatory but vital. When a massive and unexpected blizzard diverts the flight to Dallas, of all places, Kate will try anything to keep heading in the right direction. This includes relying on Joe, her armrest-hogging, antisocial seatmate who is headed to Seattle for an impressive new job. With the odds shrinking with every passing hour, sparks fly as this duo take on all manner of transportation in their cross-country quest.
Verdict London’s (The Last Debutante) latest is a quick whirl of a trip as two polar opposites are forced to work together to reach their destination. The light banter between Kate and Joe and a few running gags add humor to this already lighthearted book. This reviewer’s suggestion: grab this book for any type of travel. It will serve as an enjoyable way to pass the time, and, by comparison, Kate and Joe’s trials will make any annoying situation seem like a dream.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati, Blue Ash

starred review starMacColl, Mary-Rose. In Falling Snow. Penguin. Sept. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780143123927. pap. $16. F
In the midst of World War I, as Iris Crane sets off to France to find and bring home her underage brother, who has enlisted with the British Army, she never counts on diverging to Royaumont Abbey, an all-female-staffed field hospital established by Scottish doctors, or on feeling that she could serve a greater purpose there. At Royaumont, Iris becomes a nurse and fierce administrator and the right hand to the head of the hospital. In her daily life, she experiences the realities of war as she offers comfort to dying soldiers and is protector to her brother. She soon senses that she might be better suited to life as a doctor than as a wife. In 1970s Australia, Iris’s granddaughter Grace is a mother of three and a doctor who boldly stands up to her male counterparts, an embodiment of her grandmother’s unrealized life. Grace views Iris as a frail old woman whom she must constantly fret over, but when Iris is invited to a reunion at Royaumont, Grace realizes how little she knows about her heritage.
Verdict In this intricately woven tapestry, Australian author MacColl, making her U.S. debut, seamlessly fuses the distant past in Iris’s story with the more recent past in Grace’s tale. Both women exhibit bone-deep strength, and while their stories are richly detailed and can stand alone, readers will enjoy the way they play off each other.—Natasha Grant, New York

Niederhoffer, Galt. Love and Happiness. St. Martin’s. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780312643737. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250035219. F
Unbeknownst to her husband, Jean Banks, wife, independent film producer, and mother of two, is unhappy in her marriage. She has fond memories of their relationship’s beginnings but is loath to take the steps necessary to figure out what went wrong or how to fix it. Instead, Jean engages in activities sure to hasten its demise—she fantasizes about reconnecting with a past love, and when she meets a mysterious stranger on a business trip, she is easily drawn into the possibility of a new relationship. All this occurs amidst her efforts to get her low-budget film produced, no matter the obstacle. Her husband does find clues that she may be straying but chooses the path of least resistance to remedy the situation without confrontation. In the end, it is a battle between the old and the new, the mundanity of the known and the lure of the unknown.
Verdict This portrait of a marriage in decline is filled with pithy realizations on the nature of relationships and subtle observations into human behavior. For fans of women’s fiction that explores a mature understanding of romantic relationships and those who enjoyed the author’s other novels (The Romantics; A Taxonomy of Barnacles).—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.

starred review starRymer, Russ. Paris Twilight. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780618113736. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544003071. F
It’s 1990, and demonstrations against the First Gulf War are rocking Paris. Cardiac anesthesiologist Matilde Anselm has been recruited by an enigmatic and elegant Arab diplomat to join an elite surgical team in the French capital for the purpose of performing a private heart transplant for an anonymous patient. While there, Matilde is also inexplicably contacted by an attorney who informs her that she has been named the executor of an elderly gentleman’s estate, consisting solely of his small Parisian apartment. No sooner does she set herself up in this space than mysterious love letters addressed to the deceased man begin to arrive regularly. Compelled to find these letters’ source, Matilde launches a quest that leads her to her unknown parentage and the cruelties of the Spanish civil war.
Verdict Sure to appeal to lovers of mysteries and European modern history, this thrillingly intelligent debut novel by the author of the NBCC finalist Genie: A Scientific Tragedy and American Beach, set among the wonders of Paris and against a backdrop of war, provides a haunting, sensitive account of a middle-aged woman’s unearthing of her past and the ambiguities of her own heart. [See Prepub Alert, 1/14/13.]—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

Shoham, Liad. Lineup. Harper. Sept. 2013. 320p. tr. from Hebrew by Sara Kitai. ISBN 9780062237446. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062237460. F
Through a combination of poor judgment and bad luck, Ziv Nevo has lost his job and his family. Now he’s running errands for a Tel Aviv mobster. That is why when a brutal rape occurs late one night, he can’t explain to the police why he was in the neighborhood. Now he’s a rape suspect, and his bosses are wondering if they can trust him to keep his mouth shut. Det. Eli Nahum is sure Ziv is guilty of something, and the press and the higher-ups in the police department want results. As he investigates the crime and Ziv, Eli slowly begins to realize that the situation is more complex than it first appeared. Shoham does a deft job keeping the story moving along the various threads of the initial crime and its consequences. The vagaries and details of big-city life are well drawn, and events and characters appear and vividly form as the story gains momentum.
Verdict Making his U.S. debut, best-selling Israeli author Shoham (the “Israeli John Grisham”) has written an enjoyable and compelling thriller that should appeal to fans of urban crime thrillers (such as those by Michael Connelly and Robert Crais).—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green

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"