Fiction Reviews | September 15, 2013

redstar Baker, Nicholson. Traveling Sprinkler. Blue Rider. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780399160967. $26.95. F

If this is a book about Paul Chowder, who came to fame in Baker’s The Anthologist, and if Paul now wants to cast aside poetry and embrace songwriting (particularly protest song writing), why does the narrative start with Paul’s detailed discussion of the bassoon? Because this is a Baker novel, and a Baker novel finds its ground, then spirals upward in delicious flights of detailed fancy that unwind from point to point but remain connected, just as a traveling sprinkler does. So Paul moves from the “brain-melting bassoon lullaby” in Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird to the way he misses former love Roz, his failed date with folksinger Polly (“I was a rogue mastodon”), the Quaker meetings he attends to meet nice women, his reading Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov on orchestration in high school, his upset over drone warfare (“Why is a kill list a bad thing?…—oh gosh, where to begin”), and his song about an oversize highway load (“It was big/ It was bad/ It was round/ it could explode”)—which immediately leads to a discussion of Serbian poet Vasko Popa. VERDICT Baker, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, is always daring, and what results here is a witty and enticingly coherent blend of the everyday and the profound. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/13.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

redstar King, Stephen. Doctor Sleep. Scribner. Sept. 2013. 544p. ISBN 9781476727653. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781476727660. F

Since The Shining was published in 1977, it has become an American classic, thanks not only to the book itself but also to the Stanley Kubrick film that it spawned, and King has become one of the most successful horror writers of all time. His latest novel, a highly anticipated sequel to The Shining, marks a return to form for the old master, who reunites loyal readers with Danny (now Dan) Torrance. Decades after the events at the Overlook Hotel, Dan is wrestling with his own demons and putting his psychic abilities to work at a series of nursing homes where he provides comfort to dying patients. When he finally finds a home—and sobriety—in a cozy New Hampshire town, Dan meets a young girl with a shining even stronger than his own. Together, he and young Abra Stone must take on a tribe of people called the True Knot, whose innocent, RV-driving appearance belies their true nature. VERDICT This is vintage King, a classic good-vs.-evil tale that will keep readers turning the pages late into the night. His many fans won’t be disappointed. [Previewed in “A World of New Titles,” LJ 7/13; see Prepub Alert, 3/4/13.]—Amy ­Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins

redstar Phillips, Jayne Anne. Quiet Dell. Scribner. Oct. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9781439172537. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781439172551. F

This new title from Phillips, author of the National Book Award finalist Lark and Termite, reimagines the real-life murders of widow Asta Eicher and her three young children in 1931 Illinois. But this is not your standard crime fiction. The first third of the book introduces readers to the Eichers in the months leading up to their deaths, which helps to explain why Mrs. Eicher is desperate enough to exchange letters with complete stranger Harry Powers and then makes plans to marry him. The story then switches to the perspective of Emily Thornhill, a bright young reporter from the Chicago Tribune. The murders are not described in great detail; the narrative focuses on Emily’s investigative reporting and the eventual trial of Harry Powers, who is accused of the killings. VERDICT For readers intrigued by the story line and not already familiar with the Quiet Dell murders, this work is an excellent introduction. It serves more broadly as a compelling and touching novel, particularly for anyone interested in true crime fiction, investigative reporting, and Depression-era settings. [See Prepub Alert, 4/29/13.]—Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Baxter, Greg. The Apartment. Twelve. Dec. 2013. 193p. ISBN 9781455547715. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781455547715. F

Bulgakov, Mikhail. Morphine. New Directions. Sept. 2013. 64p. ISBN 9780811221689. pap. $10.95. F

Caple, Natalee. In Calamity’s Wake. Bloomsbury USA. Oct. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781620401859. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781620401866. F

Child, Lee. Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel. Delacorte. Sept. 2013. 397p. ISBN 9780385344340. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780440339373. F

redstar Cullen, Lynn. Mrs. Poe. Gallery: S. & S. Oct. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476702919. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476702933. F

duBois, Jennifer. Cartwheel. Random. Oct. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780812995862. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812995879. F

Erickson, Carolly. The Spanish Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250000125. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250038388. F

redstar Filer, Nathan. Where the Moon Isn’t. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250026989. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250026996. F

Girard, Geoffrey. Cain’s Blood. Touchstone: S. & S. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781476704043. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476704067. F

Grjasnowa, Olga. All Russians Love Birch Trees. Other. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781590515846. pap. $17.95. F

Hite, Ann. The Storycatcher. Gallery: S. & S. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781451692273. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781451692310. F

Inman, Robert. The Governor’s Lady. John F. Blair. Sept. 2013. 340p. ISBN 9780895876089. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780895876096. F

Jackson, Joshilyn. Someone Else’s Love Story. Morrow. Dec. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062105653. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062105677. F

King, Cassandra. Moonrise. Maiden Lane. Sept. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781940210001. $26.95. F

Krikorian, Michael. Southside. Oceanview. Nov. 2013. 242p. ISBN 9781608090556. $26.95. F

redstar Lamb, Wally. We Are Water. Harper. Nov. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780061941023. $26.99. F

Leavitt, David. The Two Hotel Francforts. Bloomsbury USA. Oct. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781596910423. $25. f

redstar McFarlane, Fiona. The Night Guest. Faber & Faber. Oct. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780865477735. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374710644. F

Morgan, Robert. The Road from Gap Creek. Shannon Ravenel: Algonquin. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781616201616. $24.95. F

Naslund, Sena Jeter. The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman. Morrow. Sept. 2013. c.448p. ISBN 9780061579325. $26.99. F

Palliser, Charles. Rustication. Norton. Nov. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780393088724. $25.95. F

Rice, Christopher. The Heavens Rise. Gallery: S. & S. Oct. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476716084. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476716107. F

Rubinstein, Mark. Love Gone Mad. Thunder Lake. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780985626860. pap. $12.99. F

Sears, Michael. Mortal Bonds. Putnam. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780399158674. $25.95. F

Sheehan, James. The Alligator Man. Center Street: Hachette. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781455508648. $23; ebk. ISBN 9781455508655. F

Thomson, James Whitfield. Lies You Wanted To Hear. Sourcebooks. Nov. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781402284281. pap. $14.99. F

Urquhart, Jane. Sanctuary Line. McLehose: Quercus. Sept. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781623650162. $24.95. F

Young, Kerry. Gloria. Bloomsbury USA. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781620400753. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781620400760. $15. F

Short Stories

redstar Barry, Kevin. Dark Lies the Island: Stories. Graywolf. Sept. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781555976514. $24. F

redstar Gurganus, Allan. Local Souls. Liveright: Norton. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780871403797. $25.95. F