Peter Ackroyd, Louis Bayard, Granta Best Nadifa Mohamed, & More | Fiction Previews, Mar. 2014, Pt. 1

Ackroyd, Peter. Three Brothers. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780385538619. $25.95. LITERARY
A Guardian and Whitbread winner for his fiction and renowned for his crusading biography and history as well, Ackroyd here revisits 1960s London with the help of brothers Harry, Daniel, and Sam Hanway, youngsters in a Camden Town council estate whose lives run from Fleet Street to dodgy Limehouse to ritzy Chelsea. Exemplary Brit Grit; fabulous, swinging London; and autobiographical to boot.

Bayard, Louis. Roosevelt’s Beast. Holt. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805090703. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781429946865. HISTORICAL THRILLER
Kidnapped by a mysterious tribe while on a fast-fading expedition up the Amazon in 1914, Theodore Roosevelt and son Kermit are promised their freedom if they will find and kill a beast that leaves no tracks and hasn’t even been seen by their captors. Another edgy historical thriller from the author of The Black Tower.

Butler, Nickolas. Shotgun Lovesongs. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250039811. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466840799. CD: Macmillan Audio. POP FICTION
The publisher’s biggest winter title, this debut  features four friends raised in Little Wing, WI, three of whom had left to become a rock star, a commodities star, and a rodeo star. Now they come together again as new husbands and fathers to try to figure things out. “This book does for Wisconsin what Larry McMurtry did for Texas in The Last Picture Show,” proclaims the publicist, so listen up.

Denfeld, Rene. The Enchanted. Harper. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062285508. $NA. LITERARY/PSYCHOLOGICAL
His imagination unfettered by prison bars, a death row inmate envisions a magical world that includes radiant golden horses galloping beneath the prison. Enter the Lady, an investigator who digs into prisoners’ pasts to save them (much like Mitigation Specialist Denfeld), who discovers something that changes the prison world’s concept of guilt and innocence. A debut novel with lots of push.

Hadley, Tessa. Clever Girl. Harper. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062270399. $25.99. LITERARY/CONTEMPORARY WOMEN
Hadley, who’s captured the imagination of the well-read everywhere with books like Married Love, returns with a book that vivifies a life typically lived, as we follow Stella from childhood with a single mum in a 1960s Bristol bedsit to the ups and downs of middle age. Not a huge first printing, but watch this one, especially for book clubs.

Holsinger, Bruce. A Burnable Book. Morrow. Mar. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9780062240323. $25.99. HISTORICAL
An award-winning scholar of the medieval era, Holsinger puts his knowledge to good use in a book drawing comparison to Iain Pears’s An Instance of the Fingerpost, Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, and, of course, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. In 1385 London, government official Geoffrey Chaucer asks poet John Gower to track down a “burnable book,” a treasonous work inspiring the dancy little tunes hinting at Richard II’s assassination that resound through the streets. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

McHugh, Laura. The Weight of Blood: Spiegel & Grau. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780812995206. $26. SUSPENSE
In this darkly suspenseful debut, 16-year-old Lucy is regarded as an outsider by her Ozarks neighbors because her beautiful, haunting mother was a stranger who eventually disappeared. Now Lucy’s lovely but slow-witted friend, Cheri, has been murdered, and Lucy wants answers. With targeted promotion, including movie theater giveaways, suggesting that something interesting is going on here.

Mohamed, Nadifa. The Orchard of Lost Souls: Farrar. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780374209148. $26. LITERARY
A nine-year-old refugee in search of her first pair of shoes, a widow badly beaten by the police, a female soldier preparing to suppress uprising—these characters are used here to portray Somalia’s crash into civil war in the late 1980s. From one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, a Betty Trask Prize winner and multiple award nominee for her debut, Black Mamba Boy, who recently returned from London to her birthplace, Hargeisa, Somalia.

Siegal, Nina. The Anatomy Lesson. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780385538367. $25.95. CD: Random Audio. HISTORICAL
Sponsored by leading Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, Fulbright and McDowell fellow Siegal, a graduate Iowa Writers’ Workshop, spent six years in Amsterdam researching and writing a debut novel that reimagines the creation of Rembrandt’s immortal The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. All of which recommends that you eye this book carefully.

Zimmerman, Jean. Savage Girl. Viking. Mar. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780670014859. $27.95. HISTORICAL
Said to have been raised by wolves, 18-year-old Bronwyn is taken from 1875 Nevada to Gilded Age New York by a ridiculously rich couple to be polished up and introduced to high society. Alas, her lovers have a way of ending up dead. A follow-up to Zimmerman’s engrossing debut, The Orphanmaster.

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.