Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, November 1, 2013

Week ending November 1, 2013

Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Purity of Vengeance: A Department Q Novel. Dutton. Jan. 2014. 400p. tr. from Danish by Martin Aitken. ISBN 9780525954019. $26.95. F
In 1987, Nete Hermansen’s perfect life falls to bits after she runs into an old nemesis, Dr. Curt Wad, who was responsible for her incarceration and sterilization in the 1950s. After their encounter, she plots murderous revenge on him and on others who abused her when she was young and helpless. Decades later, Danish cold-case investigator Det. Carl Mørck and his two oddball assistants Assad and Rose investigate the case of a madam who went missing in the 1980s. They unearth other missing-persons cases around the same time, and all seem tied to Wad.
Verdict While the other adventures starring Mørck balanced the light and dark well, this fourth installment (after A Conspiracy of Faith) of Adler-Olsen’s “Department Q” series is an uneasy mix of comedy (far too much of it bathroom humor) and suspense. Furthermore, the horrors heaped upon Nete and the all-powerful evilness of Wad are over the top. That said, it’s hard to put this one down, even when one can predict certain plot twists. Told in alternating chapters that toggle between past and present, protagonist and antagonist, this title still has a lot to offer to fans of Scandinavian procedurals, grumpy heroes, and hilariously dysfunctional workmates. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13.]—Liz French, Library Journal

starred review starJordan, Sophie. Foreplay. Morrow. (Ivy Chronicles, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062279873. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062279880. NEW ADULT ROMANCE
Dartmouth college student Pepper has been pining for the same man since she was 12. She finally has her chance now that Hunter is newly single. Unfortunately, Pepper doesn’t have much experience under the sheets, so her roommates have the perfect guy in mind to show her the ropes. Enter hot, bad-boy bartender Reece, who has seduced his share of customers and is more than happy to tutor Pepper. Under his guidance, she learns not only about pleasures in the bedroom but also that there is much more to this man than Pepper originally thought. She discovers herself opening up to him on an emotional level she has never had with anyone, not even with her friends. Hunter is the man who will rescue her from her past, but the rare chemistry she finds only with Reece gives her doubts about the one thing she always knew to be true.
Verdict Best known for her sensual historical romances, Jordan (How To Lose a Bride in One Night; Hidden: A Firelight Novel) makes a big splash with this first foray into the emerging new adult territory. Readers are along for a pleasurable ride with Pepper in her sexual education, which comes from a hot guy whose attraction goes much deeper than sex. A gratifying story that is also hard to put down, Jordan’s series starter sets a high bar for new adult.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield PL, IL

Schwegel, Theresa. The Good Boy. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250001795. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022431. F
Focusing on the alternating perspectives of a father and a son during a very rough couple of days, Edgar Award winner Schwegel’s (Officer Down) latest novel is an ambitious work that depends upon the successful realization and creation of a child’s voice. When the work focuses on Pete, a worn-down Chicago police officer trying to regroup in the K9 unit after a messy public scandal had derailed his career, the book breezes along like the best stories of George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, or Michael Connelly. Whether bantering with an uncooperative witness, arguing with his wife and daughter, or parsing out the backstory of his scandal, Pete is a fully realized and engaging character. When the chapters switch back to Pete’s 11-year-son, Joel, who is on the run with his dad’s police dog Butchie after encountering an armed guest at a neighbor’s party, the story begins to bog down. Something is off with Joel’s characterization and narrative, and these chapters read like a contrived plot device rather than a smooth extension of the story. The work is not for readers squeamish about violence toward animals, as an early plot point hinges on an extremely graphic act.
Verdict For fans of gritty police procedurals who are not opposed to scenes of animal abuse.—Julie Elliott, Indiana Univ. Lib., South Bend

Weldon, Fay. The New Countess. St. Martin’s. Dec. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250028020. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250028037. F
In the final volume of her Dilberne trilogy (Habits of the House; Long Live the King), Weldon keeps the action churning. It’s 1903, and Lord Robert’s invitation to King Edward VII to hunt at Dilberne Court sends Lady Isobel into a frenzy of redecoration and worry about where to house the king and his married mistress. Meanwhile, daughter Rosina returns from Australia as a wealthy widow and lodges in Fleet Street with old friends she hopes can help publish her book on the sexual habits of aboriginals. Son and heir Arthur devotes his time and attention to cars, neglecting his wife, Minnie, who frets about the strict upbringing of their sons by aged, rigid Nanny. Lies and misunderstandings lead to Arthur’s threat to divorce Minnie, and she plots to take her sons home to Chicago. The servants speculate endlessly about the possible liaisons of their employers, including Isobel’s involvement with the inspector arranging security for the royal visit. Although Weldon wraps up many loose ends with a 1906 funeral and wedding that set both Arthur and Rosina on new paths, there are enough plotlines left for possible sequels featuring the next generation.
Verdict Because antagonisms and relationships developed among characters in the first two volumes propel the plot, this book will appeal mainly to readers interested in finishing the trilogy. Libraries can gauge past interest among their users and purchase accordingly. [See Prepub Alert, 6/3/13.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

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"